Elgin City 4 Montrose 0Montrose Football Club’s troubled season continued at Borough Briggs on a Saturday, which despite a new management team, resulted in a heavy 4 - 0 defeat to Elgin City, which in conjunction with an away win for East Stirlingshire saw the Links Park side drop for the first time into the dreaded relegation play off place in League two.
New boss Paul Hegarty and assistant John Holt were left in no doubt as to the challenge that lies ahead in the remaining 10 games as they watched their team faulted at the hands of the Highland outfit.
The outcome of the game hinged on two first half incidents with first Wood failing to equalise from the penalty spot for the visitors before seeing teammate Moyes sent off only three minutes later for a second bookable offence.
Following Moyes departure the home side capitalised on some slack marking to reach half time with a commanding 3-0 lead and although the 10 men rallied in the second half, Elgin added a fourth with 15 minutes to play.
After the 3 – 0 home defeat to East Fife which resulted in the departure of the management team of George Shields and Lee Wilkie. The new management team of Hegarty and Holt made three changes to the line up as well as making some changes to the formation. Out went Marvin Andrews and the injured duo of Crawford and McCord. Into the line up came Greg Cameron, Paul Watson his first start since suffering a broken wrist at Arbroath and Paul Harkins against his former club.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal with Banjo and Allan in full back positions for the first team with Moyes and Graham in central defence.
Scott Johnston was wide on the right of midfield with Ross Campbell down the left. Cameron and Watson were in the middle of the park. Paul Harkins played just off Garry Wood who was the loan striker.
The five man Montrose bench consisted of Andrews, Harwood, O’Neil, Craig Johnston and goalkeeper John McCafferty.
The match began with the rain blowing in the favour of the home side and early exchanges were even with Montrose trying to play a short passing game through midfield on a poor uneven surface.
Garry Wood was first to threaten in the fifth minute when, from a long range Graham free kick, he cheated the ball just inside the box, swivelled and shot high over the bar.
The home side had their first effort a minute later when a knock down from a long range free kick landed at the feet of Gunn but his right foot effort from a tight angle flew high and wide.
Banjo, standing in at right full back for the injured Crawford, was looking to get forward at every opportunity and from his cross the ball broke to ex-Elgin man Harkins but his shot from just outside the area was straight at the keeper and was comfortably saved.
Montrose had the woodwork to thank after a quarter of an hour when a Cooper cross from the right was headed back across goal by Sutherland and with McKenzie routed to the spot he could only watch along with the 611 spectators as the ball clipped the top of the post on its way past.
The opening goal came after 22 mins from a corner that was created by the pacey right winger Thomson who would go on to cause problems for the visitors all afternoon. The corner from the right was delivered into the middle of the goal area and with a crowd of players challenging for the ball ALLY GILCHRIST got the vital touch with either his head or shoulder knocking the ball passed McKenzie to give Elgin the lead.
Gunn then blasted a 25 yard free kick over the bar but more significantly as it turned out Ewan Moyes, who committed the foul in the first place was booked for the offence.
Montrose's passing game was still evident and just before the half hour Harkins and Wood linked up nicely to create an opening for Scott Johnston but his shot was well blocked.
This move was closely followed by an even better opportunity when Campbell slipped a good ball through the defence putting Wood clear in on goal. The young stand in Elgin keeper Black was quick to react and racing from his goal fell at Wood feet right on the edge of his area to block the effort. The ball rebounded off the keeper to Watson who from 40 yards and being sharp minded attempted to lob the stranded keeper but his effort drifted tamely wide.
In the 32nd minutes Montrose won a free kick which Watson delivered into the box and after a bit of a scramble the ball broke to Johnston who touched it passed his man only to be brought down leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot.
Captain Garry Wood took responsibility but could only watch in despair as his powerfully struck, centrally placed penalty caught the toe of the diving keepers left foot, looping up and over the bar to safety. A rare miss for the Montrose number nine from the penalty spot.
Only minutes later this miss was to be compounded when a short Banjo pass forced Moyes to commit to a challenge that he couldn't win leading to an innocuous body check. In truth it happened so quickly Moyes could not get out of the way and it looked like a situation where common sense would prevail with only a stern word for the already booked defender, but the referee chose instead to play by the book and a second yellow seen Moyes make the long walk to the showers.
New boss Hegarty was forced to reshuffle and Wood was moved from up top to centre half.
In the short time that remained of the first half Elgin ceased their opportunity to score twice before the break putting the game out of reach of their wounded opponents.
The second goal came after 40mins when a long through ball split the Montrose defence and Graham was left chasing SHANE SUTHERLAND, who first outmuscled the defender before slotting neatly, passed McKenzie into the bottom left corner.
A break away right on half time saw Elgin striker Sutherland almost grab his second but McKenzie made a good save and from the rebound Thomson saw his effort blocked for a corner.
Just as Montrose thought they had done enough to see the half out they switched off at the vital moment as the corner was taken short and played to the edge of the box where MARK NICOLSON had time and space to take a touch and fire a shot through the crowded area and passed the unsighted McKenzie for a commanding 3-0 half time lead.
Montrose needed to steady the ship but five minutes into the second half a mis-control from Graham 40 yards from goal allowed Gunn to race clear and although his effort hit the net, thankfully for the sake of the visitors it was the side netting.
The game then took on a predictable appearance with the home side happy to watch the visitors playing in front of them and prepared to play on the counter attack.
Both Allan and Banjo continued to venture down the flanks but on the odd occasion when they did get to the byeline their crosses were high and wide.
Just after the hour mark Allan fairs better with a solo run that saw him beat three men before firing a good effort across the keeper but just wide of the post.
Watson then had a great opportunity to threaten the Elgin goal with a free kick 25 yards out and in a good central position. Unfortunately as with many of the visitors set pieces his effort hit the first defender and was easily cleared.
Montrose's first effort at goal in the second half came in the 70th minute when a neat flick from Campbell allowed Harkins to shoot from 20 yards towards the top left corner but once again the young keeper was equal to it with a flying save.
Cameron then replaced Nicholson for Elgin and minutes later the home side completed the scoring. From yet another short corner, the visitors allowed a dangerous ball to be derived into the box from the right and from 8 yards captain JAMIE DUFF glanced a header passed the helpless McKenzie into the left hand corner.
Seven minutes from the end Craig Johnston replaced Harkins for Montrose and minutes later Maclean and ex-Montrose man Jamie Reid replaced Gunn and Sutherland for Elgin.
With five minutes to play Montrose survived the last spell of pressure when Thomson curled a 25 yard free kick over the wall only to see McKenzie tip his effort over the bar. From the resulting corner Elgin won both the first header at the back post and the second header at the near post but McKenzie saved comfortably.
Another disappointing afternoon for Montrose and far from the result that new management duo Hegarty and Holt where hoping for.