East Fife 1 Montrose 1
Montrose Football Club followed up their point against league leaders Annan Athletic on Tuesday night when they gathered another hard fought point against bogey side East Fife at New Bayview on Saturday.
Gary Naysmith’s side had inflicted a heavy defeat on the Gable Endies in September at Links Park but this time with both side’s on a poor run of form were equally matched during the ninety minutes.
East Fife will maybe feel annoyed after not managing to make an abundance of corner kicks count with a goal but Montrose too had their chances with Graham Webster hitting the post late on.
Montrose now travel to Elgin City on Boxing Day looking for a good result before they face Arbroath in the New Year Derby
After the draw with Annan Athletic Paul Hegarty made one change to his line up with Scott Johnston returning in place of Ryan Kenneth in a left wing back role.
Conditions were windswept and wild as Montrose got the match underway at New Bayview.
It was Montrose who created the first opportunity when trialist home keeper ex Arbroath custodian Darren Hill sliced a clearance straight to Graham Webster but the Montrose midfielder couldn’t get enough on his effort and a home player got back to clear.
Montrose had a chance in the 12th minute when Malin slipped a pass to Johnston; his cross from the left was knocked down by Fraser into the path of Webster who shot straight at the keeper.
Five minutes later a shot from former Montrose player Declan O’Kane was blocked and then cleared by Montrose.
Chances were few and far between as the sides struggled to cope with the overhead conditions.
With 25 minutes gone Adrian Mallagaray touched the ball onto Ross Campbell on the edge of the area but he could only toe poke the ball straight into the arms of the trialist keeper.
Two minutes later on loan St Johnstone right back Aaron Comrie picked up the first booking of the afternoon for what was a soft foul on East Fife winger Kyle Wilkie.
The home side’s dangerman Nathan Austin then skipped past Comrie on the byeline and got inside the area but his near post shot was blocked by a visiting defender.
In the 32nd minute East Fife central defender Page let fly from 30 yards out using the wind to his favour by Jordan Millar was on hand to save his effort.
With ten minutes of the half remaining Johnston fouled Austin giving East Fife another free kick. Wilkie sent over the free kick but Jonathan Page headed well wide of the post.
Despite all the great defending by Montrose. The home side opened the scoring in the 36th minute. A slip by Harwood allowed on loan Hibernian striker JAMIE INSALL a clear run at goal and the player lashed the ball home past Millar.
Montrose didn’t let this set back get to them and they equalised in the 41st minute. Mallagaray was pushed giving the Gable Endies a free kick. Gavin Malin floated a free kick into the box and Campbell headed the ball down into the path of top scorer GARY FRASER who blasted the ball home from the edge of the area for his eleventh goal of the season.
In first half stoppage time Montrose Captain Ross Campbell was booked for another foul on Kyle Wilkie.
Play was slow at the start of the second half and it wasn’t until the 55th minute that either side created an opening. Nathan Austin made space for a shot at the edge of the area but Harwood blocked his effort.
Gary Fraser should have given Montrose the lead the following minute when he only had keeper Hill to beat with centre half Page standing in his way. But the normally deadly Montrose hit man chose to shoot from distant when he should have continued his run and his tame effort went straight into the arms of the home keeper.
Four minutes later Montrose came even closer. Webster turned brilliantly and raced up the right wing. He found Gavin Malin who steadied himself before blasting and effort from thirty yards just inches past the post.
In the 65th minute Kyle Wilkie, the home side’s dangerman took the ball off Mallagaray before firing over the Montrose crossbar.
Two minutes later Jordan Millar pulled off a quiet wonderful point blank save from six yards out after Austin looked set to score for East Fife from a Wilkie over head kick which dropped in his path. The Montrose man managed to tip the ball around the post at the expense of a corner kick.
East Fife then produced a spate of corner kicks as the Montrose defence held firm. First to try his luck was Page who headed over a corner from Mullen then Austin hit the crossbar from another Mullen effort.
Both sides made a change in the 74th minute. Ryan Kenneth came on for Montrose replacing Ross Campbell, with Kenneth moving into a left back position with Johnston pushed into central midfield. East Fife replaced Pat Slattery with Allan Walker.
Declan O’Kane then raced forward for East Fife but his shot was blocked for a corner by Matty Allan.
In the following minute the impressive Kyle Wilkie was booked for a dive after he was challenged by Greg Pascazio.
In the 78th minute Montrose came so close to taking the lead in another quick breakaway. Gary Fraser laid the ball off to the inrushing Graham Webster at the edge of the box and his effort beat the trialist goalkeeper only to rebound off the post.
East Fife were continuing to look the more likely to score and again forced a succession of corner kicks the nearest they came to scoring was when centre half Jonathan Page headed wide but the Montrose defence held firm.
With five minutes left East Fife made a change when Craig Murray came on to replace Ross Brown.
Graham Webster became the third Montrose player to be booked with three minutes remaining when he held back a home player.
In the final minute it was hearts in the mouth moment for the visiting support when it looked like East Fife had grabbed the winner. A slip by Adam Harwood again allowed in Nathan Austin his lob beat Jordan Millar and as the keeper looked on helplessly the ball just dropped inches wide of the far post and Montrose breathed again.
The bookings continued when Fraser Mullen went in hard on Gavin Malin he was quite rightly booked by referee Gavin Duncan with Malin being warned for his re-action.
In stoppage time Scott Johnston became the sixth booking of the afternoon for a foul on Austin. From the free kick taken by Mullen the home side carved out one final chance but Page headed into the arms of Millar and the points were shared.