Annan FC vs Montrose
Annan Athletic followed up their satisfactory draw at Peterhead the previous week with a narrow victory over Montrose at Galabank last Saturday. It was certainly not a convincing victory with Annan opening up a 2 goal advantage before Montrose pulled one back late on to make it a nerve racking end to the game for Annan as Montrose went all out to for the equaliser.
It was a miserable wet and windy day which contributed to Annan’s lowest ever crowd of 286 since they entered the Scottish League. It was by no means a classic match made all the more difficult by the testing conditions but Annan boss Jim Chapman was satisfied with the result and the start his side has made to the league campaign.
Annan goalkeeper Alex Mitchell failed a late fitness test and was replaced in goal by the experienced Kenny Arthur and Steven Swinglehurst took his place on the bench after missing the opening match to Peterhead. Annan elected to play with the wind in their favour but in a disappointing first half they never really got to grips with the conditions and if anything it was the visitors Montrose who looked who looked the more assured team in the opening half.
Chances were few and far between and neither keeper was seriously tested until the 28th minute when Terry Mason showed good skill and composure to work his way to the edge of the box finishing with from superb shot from the edge of the box and with goalkeeper Kenny Arthur beaten to the world the Montrose playmaker could only look on with anguish as the effort crashed off the top of the cross bar. Ally Love had a great chance to break the deadlock minutes later when David Hopkirk split the Montrose defence with an inviting ball into the path of Love but at the crucial moment Love over run the ball beyond the keeper and a golden opportunity was squandered. Arthur had to be alert to deal with a Graeme Webster effort in the 37th minute after a promising build up by Montrose and as the game edged towards half time Annan had the sparse home crowd on their toes when Kenny MacKay’s right foot effort from 22 yards missed the target by the narrowest of margins, this was followed by a superb strike from Ally Love who unleashed a spectacular effort from the edge of box only to be denied by the woodwork as his shot cannoned off the face of the cross bar.
Annan without doubt started the second half with more purpose and intent and within minutes Hopkirk tested Stuart McKenzie with a low shot which was followed by a low Steven Sloan cross to the heart of the Montrose defence. Annan looked dangerous and when Hopkirk was unceremoniously upended by Lewis Bonar in the 52nd minute Annan were very much on the ascendancy. Peter Weatherson’s resulting free kick although well struck failed to hit the target. Annan’s patience finally paid off on the 60th minute when Peter Bradley ‘s penetrating ball turned the Montrose defence and Kenny Mackay did remarkably well to shrug aside the attention of Alan Campbell to finish with a low shot under the advancing Stuart McKenzie and into the empty net . Kenny MacKay was a constant threat up front and MacKay had a big part to play in Annan’s second goal when he won a corner in the 74th minute and from the resulting corner Steven Black connected to head the ball down and into the corner of the net to give Annan a two goal cushion. After the two goal setback Montrose finished on the ascendancy and Kenny Arthur had to be alert to deal with efforts from Gary Wood and Paul Watson. Substitute David Gray had a good effort saved by Arthur as Montrose went all out to reduce the lea-way and their persistence paid off in the 86th minute when Peter Bradley appeared to conceed a needless penalty by pushing Gary Wood in the back following a deep Paul Watson cross to the back post and the impeded Watson made no mistake from the penalty spot to give the visitors a late lifeline. The last five minutes were nerve racking for Annan as Montrose on the ascendancy had Annan on the rack and it took a good save by Arthur form a diving Lloyd Young header to deny Montrose a share of the points.
Annan boss Jim Chapman was reluctant to condemn or criticise his team for letting Montrose back into the match, “We should have done better in the first half but the conditions did not help either team. In the second half we were more direct and built on the foundations laid in the first half and we made life hard for Montrose and there was a period when we threatened to over run Montrose and although we had to endure an anxious ending to the game I thought we fully deserved the victory over the 90 minutes. The players are getting to know each other and we are at the early stages of our development as a team but I am pleased with the progress we are making”.
Montrose boss Stuart Garner was not happy with the two goals that his team conceded, “we lost 2 soft goals our defending was criminal. We have not made a good start to the season but our performances today and last week are encouraging, if we continue as we did today we will soon get points on the board, there is no need to panic and I am confident that we will soon get our rewards on the park”.