Annan Athletic 0 Montrose 1
Montrose chalked up another three points as they won a tight game away at Annan to make it four unbeaten in the league so far and strengthen their hold on second place below the 100% Stirling Albion.
The Mo made two changes to the starting line up with Matty Allan coming in for Martyn Fotheringham and Paul Watson coming in for Graham Webster who was carrying a slight knock but still made the subs bench. It was Fleming in goal with a back three of Allan, Dillon and Iain Campbell but also with Ballantyne and Steeves in the wing back roles as at Stirling recently. You can please yourself if you call it a back three or a back five but the end result is that it worked then and it worked again at Annan. Manager Petrie is certainly shuffling his squad to deal with the opposition each week and again watched the first half from the stands but in contact with his bench through intercom or whatever. Fleming was in goal with Ballantyne, Allan, Dillon, I. Campbell and Steeves creating the obstacle to Annan in the back line. In midfield the influential Paul Watson did well and is a great motivator out on the pitch. He was joined in the middle by Jamie Redman who is coming into form nicely, and Liam Callaghan who is also enjoying his pitch time at present. Up top we had Chris Templeman and Connor McLaren both of whom had a difficult afternoon against the big experienced defenders in the Annan line up, Peter Murphy, Peter Watson and Steven Swinglehurst. Referee for the day was John McKendrick who had a good game and kept his cards in his pocket except when he really had no option.
The first half saw Montrose playing towards the town end in pleasant mild and non windy conditions. Annan were first to test the Montrose rear-guard and quickly gained a corner which was easily dealt with. Nothing of any merit then happened for several minutes as each midfield cancelled out the other but suddenly Annan broke away and Sinnamon should really have scored but Fleming finger tipped his effort for a corner which again came to nothing.
Watson tried his luck from 25 yards but hit his effort over the bar via the goalkeeper’s finger tips. The resultant corner was a waste of time but otherwise it was 50/50 and with strong defences on each side you sensed it would be a close game decided by perhaps a single mistake. That almost came after 20 minutes when Cammy Ballantyne firstly lost possession, regained it and scampered down the right only for Templeman to skew his effort over the bar. Then the alert Watson tried another 20 yard effort which also flew over the bar. Annan tried their luck in a quick-fire break which saw Smith with a great chance in the middle of the six-yard box but Alan Fleming pulled off a point blank save.
Then came the mistake we were waiting for. Montrose won a corner on the left and the ball was flighted to the back post where the unmarked PAUL WATSON picked his spot with a powerful close-range header to make it 1—0 to the Mo just before half time. You leave Watson unmarked at your peril in situations like that. On the very stroke of half time Annan had a strong shout for a penalty but to Mo relief referee McKendrick waved play on then blew the half time whistle.
The second half saw Annan come out firing as expected but Sean Dillon marshalled his troops well with Iain Campbell and Matty Allan both as solid as rocks alongside him. Annan’s best player the tricky Rabin Omar was a constant threat with guile aplenty but met his match and was eventually substituted. Montrose almost grabbed a second goal following a bad back pass but Swinglehurst got a foot to it to deflect for a corner which sailed harmlessly over everyone. Ryan Sinnamon was booked for a bad tackle on Watson who had to receive treatment then Swinglehurst was lucky to escape yellow as he hacked down Connor McLaren. Watson was struggling afterwards and quickly replaced by Graham Webster on the 70 minute mark.
Annan were becoming desperate for the equaliser and were gaining ground rapidly but Fleming was equal to everything thrown at him and made another point blank save. Then Annan’s Peter Watson saw yellow for pulling back Connor McLaren before both sides made more substitutions. For Annan the tricky Omar was replaced by big Blair Henderson as Annan went for the blunt instrument approach. For Montrose Templeman who had done enough by then against a battering from the Annan defenders, was replaced by Ross Campbell to add guile to the top end strike force by holding the ball upfield. It was a master substitution nicely timed. Annan forced another good save from Fleming and McLaren at the other end forced a fingertip save from home keeper Jim Atkinson.
The clock was counting down when McLaren was replaced by Johnston to reinforce midfield as Annan were trying everything – Steeves was booked for a sneaky pull back but the resultant free kick was guided out by Fleming. The final few minutes of stoppage time saw scrambles at both ends but defences held tight and Montrose ran out 1-0 winners.
No weak links in the Montrose line up although some might feel Templeman was not at his best. That however belies the hard work he did in occupying the Annan defence despite some quite determined challenges. Man of the Match for Montrose is a hard one but goes to Alan Fleming for at least three excellent saves but for which the final score line might have looked different. This is a much improved Montrose squad however which earns its own luck and deserves it. Crowd was 412 which included a good Montrose support including 76 year old Roger Bleasdale and his son and grandson from near Blackpool. It was Roger’s first ever Montrose game despite following the Mo since 1956 as his favourite club.
Ladbrokes SPFL League 2
Saturday 26th August 2017
|1||Jim Atkinson||21||Allan Fleming|
|2||Scott Hooper||15||Cammy Ballantyne|
|3||James Creaney||3||Andrew Steeves|
|4||Peter Murphy||4||Matty Allan|
|5||Peter Watson (s69)||14||Seán Dillon|
|6||Steven Swinglehurst||18||Iain Campbell|
|7||Dan Orsi||17||Jamie Redman|
|8||Ryan Sinnamon (s71)||19||Liam Callaghan|
|9||Aidan Smith||8||Paul Watson (s67)|
|10||Rabin Omar (s75)||22||Connor McLaren (s81)|
|11||Brandon Luke||10||Chris Templeman (s75)|
|12||Alex Mitchell||12||Kerr Hay|
|14||Ellis Pearson||11||Ryan Ferguson|
|15||Jack Brannan||7||Graham Webster (s67)|
|16||Aryton Sonkar||16||Craig Johnston (s81)|
|17||Owen Moxen (s71)||20||Ross Campbell (s75)|
|18||Blair Henderson (s75)||1||Jordam Millar (GK)|
John McCrossan, Alastair Grieve
Montrose - Paul Watson (43)
Annan Athletic- Ryan Sinnamon (58), Peter Watson (69)
Montrose - Andrew Steeves (82)