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A settled looking Montrose squad started this key game at Balmoral Park. For both sides it was a key game in the race for the play-off places and referee Ross Hardie got it going on a dry but windy cold day. For Cove Rangers it was their 150th SPFL game (Montrose’s 2966th) but today was about 3 valuable points and not about history.

Cove started brightly but keeper Gill was kept warm and at the other end keeper Demus was also kept warm as a move started by Gardyne was kept out after the shot from Webster on just 4 minutes. That was the way it went, end to end with Cove looking sharp but Montrose looking dangerous where it counted most. Lyons hit a shot over the top then came the opening goal on 9 minutes.

Kane Hester did remarkably well when he received a through ball and slithered his way into the box to shoot decisively past Demus from 15 yards to make it 1-0 to the Mo. He almost made it two a couple of minutes later but his effort was ruled offside.

Cove responded with intricate midfield possession mainly around Fraser Fyvie with Rumarn Burrell linking well. A free kick 25 yards out hit the wall as the Mo defended well. A free kick at the other end for Montrose was contested as Gardyne was clear in possession but the referee gave a free kick to Montrose instead several yards back and that came to nothing.

Corners to each side came to nothing as play oscillated from end to end but a third corner to Montrose led to the second goal. Gardyne took the corner and Dillon was manhandled at the near post which referee deemed to be a penalty and Graham Webster did what he usually does and scored to make it 2-0 on 29 minutes.

Back came Cove and a free kick from 30 yards was blocked but Montrose made the most of it as the ball was swept away upfield to Gardyne who threaded a through ball to Kane Hester who beat the keeper with ease to make it 3-0 on 32 minutes.

The Mo were showing good possession where it mattered whereas Cove’s equal possession faltered going forward. A Webster shot was saved and a near post shot from Burrell missed by inches at the other end. Cove made a change on 40 minutes as Niang who appeared to be injured was replaced by Stewart as play continued at pace up to half-time with efforts by each side still coming thick and fast.

No changes for the second half and Montrose started brightly with Lyons particularly showing what we know he is very capable of and Hester having a great game with both Watson and Gardyne providing the chances in attacking midfield roles. Cove were trying hard to pull back the scoreline but keeper Gill and the Mo defence were solid but Burrell missed a sitter on 55 minutes.

Coming up to the hour mark and the first yellow card was issued to Megginson for a foul on Lyons who was in full flight. The Mo made a triple change on 68 minutes as Shrive, Brown and Hermiston replaced Hester, Watson and Machado and Cove replaced Kerr with Connell at the same time.

Then came the 4th Montrose goal and a beauty it was. Craig Brown was in possession, looked up and hit a long ball to the opposite wing where Blair Lyons collected it at full throttle, sped into the area and whistled his shot past the oncoming keeper into the centre at the net to make it 4-0 on 70 minutes.

Still Cove kept coming back and on 72 minutes they pulled it back to 4-1 as Burrell fed a pass to Connor Sully who struck a well hit shot past Gill. Still 20 minutes to go and the Mo back line of Quinn, Dillon, Graham and Steeves continued to control what came their way but had to be careful not to concede more as another Cove goal would have made it a nervy end to the game.

On 75 minutes Batchelor came on for Lyons then young Hermiston was denied a goal. He looked offside as he received the ball but when it was delivered two Cove defenders clashed and left Hermiston in the clear but the linesman saw Hermiston in the clear and raised his flag as the youngster’s shot hit the back of the net.

Webster was replaced by Rio Bradford on 85 minutes for the youngsters debut, Gardyne was yellow carded for dissent as a few decisions went against Montrose but the Mo held our relatively comfortably to a 4-1 win as the final whistle sounded. 

Report by Steve Doyle

Pic by Phoenix Photography 

Post match reaction