Montrose 2 Annan Athletic 1Montrose Football Club battled against the elements and visitors Annan Athletic to record a badly needed victory at Links Park on Saturday.
It was no more than George Shields new look side needed in some really difficult conditions of high winds and snow blowing around the park.
It was the third occasion this season that the men from the South had failed to record a victory over Montrose.
George Shields had been busy during the week securing the signings of five new players. Greg Cameron came on loan from Brechin City whilst Ross Campbell and Ewan Moyes had been captured from East Fife. Jordan Allan a left sided player had joined from Greenock Morton. The final recruit was 19 year old winner or striker Craig Johnston from Sauchie Juniors.
Cameron, Moyes and Allan all made their debuts with Campbell, son of Forfar boss Dick and Johnston were both suspended.
They replaced the injured Harwood, McCord and Deasley.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal, Crawford and Graham in their usual full back positions with Moyes teaming up with Andrews in central defence. Cameron went into central midfield along side Banjo while O’Neil and Allan where in the wide positions. Wood and Johnston were in attack.
With Masson, Watson, McIntosh and Day all still injured Montrose were only able to name six subs in McCord, Harkins, Campbell, Deasley, Webster and goalkeeper McCafferty.
Montrose got the match underway at a bitterly cold and windy Links Park and it was Annan Athletic who had the wind in their favour for the opening 45 minutes.
In the fifth minute Wood latched onto a McKenzie goal kick but was held back by Watson. Cameron took the free kick to the back post but Wood’s header across goal found no takers.
In the next minute Omar ran at the home defence and found Weatherston whose shot went straight into the arms of McKenzie.
David banjo then carved out an effort for the home side when he ran across the face of the box only to drag his low effort wide of goal.
The visitors then used the elements to force a succession of corner kicks from the final one taken by McColm, McKenzie missed the ball but Moyes was on hand to head the ball clear.
With 15 minutes gone Annan Athletic won a free kick but from 35 yards out Weatherston’s effort caught in the wind and flew well over the crossbar.
Annan Athletic kept up the pressure and in the next minute and McColm free kick was cleared properly by the Montrose defence but Rabin Omar could only blast the ball over the bar.
Montrose were not out of things and Jordan Allan played the ball into the feet of Garry Wood but he could only turn and shout wide of goal.
In the 21st minute Annan midfielder Ryan McStay picked the ball up at the edge of the box but his volley didn’t trouble Stuart McKenzie in the home goal.
Montrose had a let of six minutes later when Allan lost possession and Annan Athletic again broke quickly but this time Josh Todd shot wide.
On the half hour mark Banjo sent up Garry Wood for Montrose but he headed over the crossbar.
Sixty seconds later Annan Athletic were given another opportunity with a free kick after Allan fouled Todd. Again Weatherson took the kick but again he was off target this time firing low past the near post.
Annan Athletic then forced some more corner kicks and from the final one taken by McColm, Watson saw this effort go wide of McKenzie’s goal.
Montrose came close to opening the scoring in the 37th minute. O’Neil sprayed a pass out wide to Wood on the right wing his first time cross was whipped into the six yard box and the flying Scott Johnston almost made contact with his head.
The home side came even closer seconds later. A Wood shot was blocked for a corner kick and when O’Neil’s corner kick came over Jonathan Crawford saw his header smack off the base of the post before the ball was scrambled clear.
Annan Athletic were still causing Montrose problems and Martin McNiff raced up the left wing only to drag his shot wide and out of a bye kick.
In the 51st minute Annan Athletic thought they had taken the lead when Weatherston knocked home a Todd free kick but the flag was already up for offside.
In the next minute McKenzie saved Montrose when he pushed out a cross from McColm the rebound fell to Rabin Omar and his shot was deflected over the crossbar.
From the corner from Matty Flynn, centre half Peter Watson headed well over the crossbar.
Four minutes later Wood got himself into a great shooting position for Montrose and his shot was blocked. The ball fell to Banjo but he could only blast the ball straight at keeper Mitchell.
Despite the conditions play continued to race from end to end and next to have a go was Annan’s Omar but just as he was on the point of shooting Ewan Moyes got back to put in a great saving tackle.
Johnston picked up an O’Neil through ball up the right wing he cut along the byeline and cut the ball back only to find nobody in a blue shirt.
David Banjo then tested Mitchell in the away goal but he was again equal to the task.
A deadly silence fell over Links Park when Annan Athletic opened the scoring in the 64th minute. There appeared to be no danger when McNiff took a long throw in but as the Montrose defence stood still RABIN OMAR didn’t and he was able to hook the ball over his head and into the net.
Montrose didn’t lie back from this set back and equalised within sixty seconds. It was the again impressive David Banjo who did the spade work he went for a surging run from inside this own half. His low effort was blocked by Mitchell but only as far as debutant JORDAN ALLAN who managed to knock the ball home via the goalkeeper who was lying on the ground. It was no more than the youngsters performance deserved.
Two minutes later and George Shields men were ahead in the match. This time it was full back Jonathan Crawford who caused the problems for Annan. He like team-mate Banjo raced from his own half and cut inside to get a shot away in the box. Mitchell saved but the ball broke to Johnston and he crossed back into the danger area for captain GARRY WOOD who blasted home his tenth goal of the season from ten yards out.
Montrose had the tails between their legs and two minutes later Jordan Allan showed some great skill to open up a shooting opportunity from 25 yards out but Alex Mitchell punched the ball over the bar.
Banjo was everywhere and he flicked the ball back into the path of Wood but this time he shot wide from the edge of the box.
Stephen O’Neil then tested Mitchell with a 25 yard lob which caught in the wind but the keeper got back to save.
Montrose were searching for a third goal and David Banjo was looking to add to his two goals from last week but the midfielder turned and shot wide from the edge of the box.
Referee Ryan Milne then caused controversy with 15 minutes left when he allowed Brannan to commit a last man foul on Allan only to allow Montrose the advantage which saw Banjo win a corner kick. If he had allowed the foul to stand the Annan right back would have walked.
O’Neil took the corner kick which Wood headed on only for Marvin Andrews to head over the crossbar.
Montrose were inches away from a third goal with ten minutes left an O’Neil run saw him put over a perfect cross which Peter Watson knocked behind for a corner kick but could have so easily found the bottom corner of the net.
With ten minutes left Annan Athletic made a double switch which took longer than expected after substitutes Junior Ogen and Chris Dickinson finally managed to put on the correct strips to replace McStay and McColm.
With six minutes of the match remaining Annan carved out another dangerous opportunity. Weatherston headed the ball down into the path of the impressive Omar but thankfully for the home side he slipped his effort wide.
Garry Wood looked to seal the home victory with a third goal two minutes later. He collected an Allan pass made space for an opening only to see his shot blocked at the edge of the box.
With three minutes left Montrose brought on Ross McCord for Stephen O’Neil.
Annan then made their final switch with Steven Logan replacing Matty Flynn.
There was still time for one more Annan Athletic chance at the death but Ewan Moyes got in a vital challenge with what looked a certain goal.