Annan Athletic FC v Montrose FC
Annan Athletic secured their place in the play offs in style with a convincing victory over fellow play off rivals Montrose at Galabank on Saturday. It was a whirlwind start for Annan who secured victory in a blistering 18 minute period where they scored four goals, a spell which completely knocked the sails out of Montrose who appeared to be shell shocked as Annan ramped up the agony.
There were several changes into the Annan team which were defeated in the previous match against Edinburgh City with Jean Guy Lucas being restored in the full back position and Callum Home coming in at Right Back with Swinglehurst being reinstated at the centre of defence along with Raffi Krissian.
Montrose started brightly enough with Templeman’s effort going narrowly over the bar in the 4th minute but it was Annan who struck the first blow in the 6th minute following a Nathan Flannigan corner kick which the Montrose defence failed to deal with and Rabin Omar pounced to send in a downward shot which glanced off the surface and into the roof of the net. It was the perfect start for Annan who continued to press forward and 5 minutes later they doubled their lead after Barry Cuddihy finished clinically with a low shot from 10 yards.
Montrose appeared to be shell shocked but their afternoon was about to become even more arduous two minutes later after Steven Swinglehurst headed Annan into a three goal lead from a corner kick 2 minutes later.
The Montrose nightmare was not over as Annan’s purple patch continued and in the 18th minute Annan were awarded a free kick wide on the left and from the resulting free kick Swinglehurst headed the ball back across the face of the goal to Raffi Krissian who headed the ball into the roof of the net to give Annan a four goal lead.
Annan were in dream land and Montrose appeared to be in an almost hopeless situation of trying to salvage some pride out of a match which appeared out of their reach and it was about to get even more uncomfortable after Ross Campbell was sent off in the 31st minute for a second yellow card with a senseless challenge from behind on Nathan Flanagan.
Annan continued to look the most likely to score and it took an excellent one handed save by keeper Fleming to deny Flanagan who had been set up by Weatherson on the 37th minute.
It was a case of damage limitation in the second half for the visitors who’s afternoon was about to get even more uncomfortable when Annan romped into a five goal lead after Annan broke swiftly from their own half to cut open the Montrose defence with Flanagan setting up Weatherson who homed on keeper Allan Fleming to finish with a low shot from 10 yards in the 50th minute to give the hosts a five goal advantage.
Montrose despite their struggle started to enjoy their best spell in the game playing some neat controlled football but they were unable to get past Blair Currie in the Annan goal. With time running out it took a brilliant solo goal from Kerr Hay who cut on from the right to gluided past a couple of challenges before sending in a deliberate cross into the corner of the net from 12 yards.
It was an emphatic victory from Annan which ensured their position in the play offs for the third time in their nine year history since joining the Scottish League, despite this defeat Montrose still have an excellent opportunity to make the play offs provided they can defeat Clyde in their last league game of the season next week and depending on their fortunes the two teams could still meet in the play off final.
Arbroath moved to the top of the league following their excellent 3-2 victory over Elgin who now sit out of the play off zone, Forfar who have headed the table since September slipped to second place following their 1-1 draw against bottom of the table Cowdenbeath. Clyde and Berwick had to be content with a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at Broadwood but both teams face anxious matches to avoid the bottom place in their final matches next week. There is still a lot to play for as the season faces the final matches of the season with Annan’s opponents in the play offs being either Arbroath or Forfar.
ANNAN ATHLETIC : Blair Currie, Callum Home, Jean Guy Lucas, Steven Swinglehurst , Raffi Krissian , Gavin Skelton, Rabin Omar, Barry Cuddihy ( Steven Bronsky 85 min), Peter Weatherson ( Smart Osadolor 73 min), Aiden Smith ,Nathan Flanagan (David McKenna 67 min) .Substitute’s not used Alex Mitchell, Max Wright and Peter Watson
MONTROSE :Allan Fleming, Callum Ballantyne, Iain Campbell, Paul Watson (Greig Pascazio 59 min), Matty Allen, Andy Steeves, Kerr Hay, Terry Masson (Kieran McWalter 18 min ) , Gary Fraser ( Liam Callaghan 55 min), Chris Templeman, Matty Smith. SUBS NOT USED: Graham Webster, Ryan Ferguson, Ross Campbell, Jordan Miller GK.
Referee Steven Reid Assistants Ross Haswell and Connor Ashwood.