Stirling Albion 1 Montrose 0
Montrose Football Club’s search for an away victory continued on Saturday as they missed out on a chance to take over at the top of League Two for the first time this season after losing to Stirling Albion at Forthbank.
The match which Montrose controlled for the entire first half without scoring turned on a 48th minute penalty miss from Ross McCord, that gave the ten man home team the desire to go on and take all three points after Paul Hegarty’s side just couldn’t find a way past the home defence.
Stirling Albion were nothing special which makes Montrose’s fifth away defeat of the season all the more disappointing.
Montrose must now look to get back on track this Saturday when they meet East Stirlingshire then East Fife the following Saturday in another home double header as they look to continue their impressive home form.
Montrose were unchanged from the side that had defeated Elgin City the previous Saturday.
The only changes came on the bench were the unavailable Adam McWilliam was replaced by Kyle McLeod and with Sandy Wood unavailable ex Arbroath goalkeeper Scott Morrison took his place as back up goalkeeper.
There was a healthy Montrose backing inside Forthbank as the sides took to the field for their first meeting in two season.
Montrose created a good opening in the third minute when McCord sent Fraser clear down the right, the striker raced into the box before curing the ball back to Campbell who got the ball tangled up in his feet and a good chance went a begging.
Fraser then found Webster who beat full back Forsyth for pace and sent over a low cross which keeper Chris Smith cut out at the near post.
Steeves then sent over a free kick which saw Campbell and Fraser work a one two before the ball went out of play.
The Gable Endies had a good chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute. McCord won the ball in the middle of the park and played a first time ball through to Gary Fraser. He rounded a defender only to see his chip shot clear the goalkeeper but also the crossbar.
The home side had been quiet and created their first opening in the 21st minute when they forced a corner kick. Craig Comrie swung the ball over only for Graham Webster to head well clear.
McCord then sent Graham Webster racing down the right wing in acres of space but he just couldn’t get his cross over and another chance had gone.
With half an hour gone Montrose won a free kick in the centre circle when Ross Smith pushed Fraser. Matty Allan took the free kick, Ross Campbell headed the ball down to Fraser who set up Webster some twenty yards out but he could only side foot the ball over the crossbar.
Six minutes later Montrose had another great chance to open the scoring in what was a one sided first half. Again it was Ross McCord with a reverse pass who sent Gary Fraser racing clear of a static home back four he lined up a shot which looked net bound only for Chris Smith to pull off a great save at the near post.
With five minutes of the half remaining Johnston was tripped by Comrie on the touchline. McCord played the free kick wide to Fraser who turned and won a corner. McCord’s corner was cleared by the home defence only as far as Gavin Malin but he blasted well over from the edge of the penalty box.
Stirling Albion had a rare attack the following minute. Pascazio got into difficulty clearing the ball and Steven Doris got in between him and the Montrose goal only for Ross Salmon to pull off a great stop at his near post. Comrie took the corner kick only for the ball to go out of play at the other side.
Montrose had their best opportunity to open the scoring on the stroke of half time. Again it was the McCord and Fraser combination that opened up the Stirling Albion defence down the right hand side of the park. Montrose’s top scorer found himself through on goal with only keeper Smith to beat but he chose to find an unmarked Campbell inside the box only for his strike partner to mess up the opportunity and another opportunity went a begging.
The home side made a change at the start of the second half bringing on Kevin McKinlay for Ross Smith.
Montrose created the first chance of the second half when Steeves played the ball into Fraser; he flicked the ball on to Ross Campbell who volleyed the ball over the crossbar.
Three minutes into the second half Montrose were given a great opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded their fourth penalty kick of the season. A ball over the top put Gary Fraser through on goal with only keeper Smith to beat and he was taken out of the game by full back Ross McGeachie as he was on the point of shooting. Referee Gavin Ross immediately pointed to the spot and sent off McGeachie. Ross McCord stepped up to take the kick and although it was a good strike Smith was equal to the task and got down well to save. It was the second penalty Montrose have missed this season and it turned out to be crucial to the match.
Stirling Albion started to come more into the game after this and Gavin Malin put in a great saving tackle inside the area to stop ex Gable Endie Steven Doris from getting clear.
Stirling Albion’s Sandy Cunningham became the first booking of the match just shy of the hour mark when he tripped Gary Fraser, stopping Montrose gaining advantage with a quick break.
Montrose then tried with a move down the right McCord showed some great feet before playing the ball back to Webster whose first time cross was well defended under the crossbar from a home defender.
Home midfielder Craig Comrie then tested Ross Salmon who had been a virtual spectator with a low effort but it went straight into the arms of the Montrose goalkeeper.
Stirling Albion were coming more into the match despite playing with only ten men and Steven Doris was next to go close with a lob from just outside the box which went just over the crossbar.
Three minutes later Montrose came close again. Ferguson broke forward and found Ross Campbell on the over lap and his first time cross found Webster who bulleted a header just wide of the post.
Despite having all the play Montrose were hit by a Stirling Albion sucker punch with 70 minutes on the clock when they opened the scoring. Ross Forsyth send a free kick deep into the Montrose penalty area and ROSS McMILLAN made contact at the far post to send the ball looping over Salmon and into the back of the net.
Two minutes later Montrose made their first change bringing on Declan Milne for Campbell. Milne went to a wide position with Johnston moving into attack.
Steeves then sent Fraser clear down the right but he was taken completely out of the game by Forsyth who was rightly booked.
With fifteen minutes left Stirling Albion took off Cunningham and replaced him with Kyle Lander.
In the 80th minute Montrose gave a debut to summer signing from St James Amateurs Ryan Kenneth who came on in place of Gavin Malin.
Three minutes later Stirling Albion substitute Lander was booked for kicking the ball into the net after the whistle had gone.
The bookings continued as Stirling Albion frantically tried to hold onto their lead and Sean Dickson was yellow carded after showing dissent after Montrose were awarded a free kick after Steeves was brought down. Again McCord took the kick and the ball was deflected out for a corner.
As Stirling continued to time waste by forgetting to go for the ball followed by being unable to find a ball to re start the match they made a final switch with two minutes to go when Aurelien Mazel replaced Doris.
Montrose had run out of ideas and the final piece of action came in stoppage time when Ross McCord picked up the only Montrose booking of the afternoon.