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Montrose v Arbroath

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Montrose 2 Greenock Morton 1

Although it was mid-May the only butterflies at Links Park today were in the tummies of those present and all the fans of both sides watching from afar. The wet and very windy conditions meant that any idea of playing smooth flowing football were quickly dispelled.

Both sides made two changes to their starting line-up and for Montrose Steeves and Waddell returned in place of Johnston and Quinn. Grant Irvine had the pleasure of refereeing this Championship semi-final first leg game. It was Montrose who kicked off into a howling gale and from the off it was always going to be hard to make progress towards the beach end.

Morton made use of the wind in their favour in their first attack but the ball ended up in Fleming’s hands. Not so the second attack however as Orsi did well down the left, slotted it to the onrushing GARY OLIVER who hit it inside the near post to give Morton a 1-0 lead after just 5 minutes. It was a well worked and well taken goal.

Morton continued to use the wind advantage well but Montrose to their credit tried to play more along the deck rather than in the air. In a swift such move down the right Webster was felled in flight and Lewis Strapp was yellow carded but the free kick was held up in the wind and easily cleared. The Mo had a few minutes when they moved the ball forward well but without any success and up to the half hour mark play became very scrappy with scarcely any threat at either end. Milne broke well down the right with McLean in a good position for his cross which was well hit until the wind blew it a tad behind McLean fortunately for Morton and the chance was gone.

Steeves was the saviour at the other end as Morton broke swiftly with men up but the big defender was in control and dealt with the danger to concede a corner which was wasted by Morton. Then the best chance of the first half for Montrose as the ball was first worked in from the right, ended up on the left and two shots were blocked with Milne’s hard-hit effort deserving of a better outcome. It remained 1-0 to Morton at the break.

No changes by either side for the start of the second half as we all waited to see how Morton would deal with the wind in their faces and conversely how Montrose would deal with it the other way. Montrose exerted some early pressure but intricate play to hold the ball up front especially by McLean was not coming off at that point. Steeves on a charge created a chance for McLean but the big striker was crowded out before he got in a shot and the ball was scrambled away. Not for long however as this was more like what Montrose needed but with the ball breaking well for, rather than against them. Then it did. A through ball from midfield was messed up by a Morton defender who lost his footing to put RUSSELL McLEAN in a bit of space and he curled a beauty into the top right corner to easily beat keeper McAdams from 15 yards and level up the score at 1-1 on 57 minutes.

As Game on now with Montrose having the better of it but at the same time Morton as the Championship side looked slicker in possession and Montrose still had it all to do if they were to take and advantage to Cappielow for the second leg. Morton were not yet finished and Cammy B was the saviour in blocking a dangerous move but Morton wasted the resultant corner.

Montrose had a chance to score again but when in good position in the centre of the box the ball just would not come down for Rennie and was scrambled away by a defender.

A period of scrappy play next until on 75 minutes the first substitution came when Rennie was replaced by Antoniazzi for Montrose. He was involved in the very next attack and a goal looked on the cards until keeper McAdams dived full length to concede a corner. The Mo were on top now and converted that pressure into a second goal. A Steeves long ball from the left was helped on its way to the right where GRAHAM WEBSTER controlled it well, took a stride forward and hit a cracker across the keeper to put Montrose 2-1 up on 77 minutes.

Cue a double change by Morton with Strapp and Orsi replaced by Muirhead and Blues on 79 minutes. Morton needed an equaliser but at the same time had to avoid conceding again as Montrose were on top with 10 minutes to go. Webster again charged down the right and with support in the box his cross was deflected for a corner which came to nothing. Morton came again and a corner from the right had the Montrose defence in difficulty as Fleming was clearly obstructed and unable to get to the ball in the air. It was now in the 88th minute and Montrose simply just had to clear their lines and the last Morton shot was straight at Fleming before the final whistle sounded with a 2-1 win for Montrose.

Man of the Match goes to Graham Webster who again showed just what a great striker he can be. Nobody in a Montrose shirt had a poor game so a single goal lead is taken to Cappielow Park next Tuesday 11th May for the second leg of this play-off semi-final. Morton showed a bit of Championship class on the day but this Montrose side are well capable of extending this season a step further.

Report by Steve Doyle


Team Lineups & Stats

SPFL Championship Play-off
Playoff Semi-final

Saturday 8th May 2021



1  Allan Fleming
20  Aidan McAdams
2  Cammy Ballantyne
2  Michael Ledger
3  Andrew Steeves
3  Markus Fjortoft
5  Kerr Waddell
4  Brian McLean (c)
14  Seán Dillon
6  Kyle Jacobs
7  Graham Webster
8  Stephen McGinn
11  Lewis Milne
10  Aidan Nesbitt (s79)
10  Russell McLean
11  Gary Oliver
6  Terry Masson (c)
12  Kalvin Orsi (s78)
22  Cammy F Ballantyne 
15  Craig McGuffie
23  Martin Rennie (s75)
16  Lewis Strapp
12  Chris Antoniazzi (s75)
9  Robbie Muirhead (s78)
15  Ross Campbell
17  Reece Lyon
16  Craig Johnston
18  Cameron Blues (s79)
17  Aidan Quinn
19  Luca Colville
19  Liam Callaghan
22  Alexander Easdale
20  Chris Mochrie
27  Darren Hynes
21  Aaron Lennox (GK)
28  Lewis McGrattan

Grant Irvine

Assistant Referees:
Stuart Hodge, Craig Napier

Greenock Morton - Gary Oliver (5)
Montrose - Russell McLean (57), Graham Webster (77)

Yellow Cards:
Greenock Morton - Lewis Strapp (13)

Red Cards:



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