Saturday, October 11, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 2: Montrose 1 Arbroath 3 (The William Hill Scottish Cup Second Round Replay)

Since the last time I saw Montrose 'play football', I've been to Tokyo, Houston and London, occasionally working and occasionally seeing some of the finer things in life.

Which means that this season I have seen 210 minutes of Montrose in action, seen them ship six goals, score one, have two men sent off and fail to win a game of football.

I've not seen them play well. I've barely seen them string two passes together. I've seen them rely on Paul Watson in midfield and Stuart McKenzie in goals far more than any team should rely on just two players.

There were high hopes today (but not the bumper home crowd that might have been expected), Montrose having held their backwards fish-smoking cousins from down the coast to a draw a week earlier.

But Arbroath came roaring out of the traps, Paul McManus sweeping a low finish under McKenzie in the fourth minute.

Montrose tried to stage a comeback, but it took them until first half stoppage time to equalise, Paul Harkins playing a one-two with Scott Johnston, scrambling his way through the Arbroath defence and poking the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.

Both sides had chances in the second half, but neither could break the deadlock, McKenzie performing heroics in the Montrose goal.

It took just two minutes of extra time for Arbroath to go back in front, McManus again applying a low finish.

And he completed his hat-trick eight minutes from time, again finding space in the box to slip the ball into the net.

By then Montrose had all but given up, George Shields having withdrawn Watson to keep him relatively fresh for the long league trip to Berwick on Wednesday night.

Complaints? Much the same as the last time I saw Montrose, two and a half months ago - no strikers who actually score goals, a lack of pace on the wings, a determination to hammer the ball up the park rather than pass it, launching throw-ins up the line to an opposition player instead of passing back and passing out.

Last time out I was overly harsh on Paul Watson - without him, the Montrose midfield would have been overrun today.

There are flashes of quality of throughout the team on occasion - McCord sometimes offers an interesting pass, Deasley is capable of igniting every so often and Johnston works his arse off every time he steps onto the Montrose Brillo pad, although not always terribly effectively.

Paul Harkins worked hard today and ultimately deserved his goal, but Graham Webster on the opposite wing had a miserable afternoon, never looking comfortable during the two-hour match.

While the Montrose defence may lack pace, the Crawford-Wood-Campbell-Graham axis generally worked better than the scoreline would suggest. They need to be more switched on from the get-go, and choose how to distribute the ball better, but there's a solidity that seems to be growing under the watchful eyes of George Shields and Lee Wilkie - working with a former Scotland centre back is presumably paying dividends.

Anyway, as I have now seen the side lose twice in two outings, I'll maybe stay away for a while and see if things improve...

Man of the Match: He conceded three and could have done better with the first, but Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose's hopes alive until extra time with a series of outstanding saves.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 1: Montrose 0 Peterhead 3 (The Petrofac Cup Round 1)

The last time I saw Montrose beat Peterhead was in November 2012. Since then, they've lost Martin Boyle and Jamie Winter, and have lost 6-0 to Peterhead at Links Park.

Using the well-honed skill and judgement that comes with the territory of being an amateur pundit, I today predicted that Montrose would not win their first competitive match of the season.

The reasons for this prediction included:

1) Montrose's lack of a real goalscorer - Garry Wood is a striker who rarely strikes, and Bryan Deasley seems to have forgotten he ever was one. Scott Johnston runs a lot but seems to forget what he was trying to do when he gets where he was going.

2) Montrose continue to play Alan Campbell and his arthritic knees at centre back, while Paul Watson has polished his game down to a solid core of wandering around, shouting at his team-mates and trying audacious long-distance shots.

3) Peterhead are, though it pains me to say it, a very good side (when speaking comparatively alongside the rest of the scrapings in the bottom two levels of the SPFL barrel).

4) Montrose are pish.

Even the previously unbreakable lucky charm of Little Jocklette was unable to counteract the Rory McAllister effect, daughter dear seeing Montrose lose for the first time, in her fourth visit to the North Sea Nou Camp.

Peterhead took the lead in the fifth minute, Andy Rodgers' header dropping inside the far post from a James Stevenson corner, despite Ross Graham's best efforts to Riverdance it to safety.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 17th minute when McAllister broke into a light jog which saw him race clear of the Montrose defence, before he slipped a low shot into McKenzie's net.

They completed the scoring before the half hour mark, Rodgers cutting the ball back for Stevenson to sidefoot home.

Having all but lost the match already, Montrose were further hindered when referee Colin Steven showed Graham Webster a red card for allowing Peterhead's Jamie Redman to smash into him with a sliding challenge.

He was joined in the Montrose dressing room by Garry Wood early in the second half, the Montrose skipper adjudged to have committed a professional foul on McAllister, although there looked to be little or no contact between the two.

If Webster and Wood thought they were having a bad afternoon, it probably got a whole lot worse when they were joined by Big Mad Lee Wilkie, the raging assistant manager banished to the dressing room lest he forcibly remove assistant referee Joseph Lawson's head from his shoulders. One would imagine that was an uncomfortable 45 minutes for the red-carded players.

After the second red, there was little action on which to report - Peterhead pissed about with the ball in their own half, occasionally gave Rory McAllister a chance to make Campbell look like a fud, and fired a few long distance shots at Stuart McKenzie just to check he wasn't sleeping.

And that was that. Three goals conceded, none scored, two men sent off and suspended.

Welcome to the new season...

Man of the Match: Slim pickings from Montrose. Without Stuart McKenzie in goals, it could have been a lot worse, so we'll go for him.

Monday, June 09, 2014


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Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award 2013/2014

As my Montrose viewing is over for the season, it's now time to award the award that no awardee is waiting for, The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award.

Determined by who I most often awarded the man of the match, this season we have a clear winner.

Stuart McKenzie, in his debut season at the Montrose Maracana, has been a solid and confident performer in the Montrose goal.

On the 14 occasions I've seen Montrose this season, McKenzie has been the home side's best performer in five of them.

The full list is as follows:

Stuart McKenzie 5
Scott Johnston 3
Bryan Deasley 2
Garry Wood 2
Alan Campbell 1
Paul Watson 1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 14: Montrose 2 Annan Athletic 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Having last seen Montrose win around six weeks ago, and having seen them ship five goals without reply in my previous two visits to the Montrose Maracana, it was with no optimism that I ventured out today.

Given that they were facing an Annan side sitting second in the league and with a playoff place guaranteed, it seemed obvious that Montrose would continue their sorry capitulation of the preceding two home matches.

The previous week they'd rolled over and let Clyde tickle their bellies, but this week there was a growl and a determination to their play.

Jonathan Crawford epitomised it, with a snarling, ill-tempered showing that included a booking in the third minute. Having long since cast aside his Screech Powers curls, Crawford today was a torn-faced menace to any Annan player who ventured into his fallout zone. He almost scored with a fantastic bullet header during the second half, only to be denied by a great stop from visiting keeper Kenny Arthur.

Montrose had taken the lead on the half hour mark when Scott Johnston's cross to the back post was headed down by Paul Watson, allowing Bryan Deasley to sneak in front of his marker and poke the ball into the net.

The same player had several chances during the match, but found Arthur in good form, as well as passing up others through poor finishing.

It took until the 74th minute for Annan to find an equaliser, David Hopkirk sent clear of the Montrose defence and slotting a shot past McKenzie and in off the post.

But it took Montrose only two minutes to move back in front, McCord's corner falling to Wood in the box. The Montrose skipper's first shot was blocked, but his second zipped across goal and into the net.

And so Montrose's final home match of the season ended with an unlikely win. The season will end next week in deepest, darkest Stenhousemuir, and from there we can begin to think about next season under a new manager.

I'd keep most of the squad on, assuming they wanted to stay. McKenzie has been a revelation in goals, and Montrose will be doing well to hold on to him.

Campbell and Wilson have settled as a central defensive partnership, and Crawford's versatility continues to make him a useful asset. Left back remains a problem, although Bell did fairly well today before being replaced by McIntosh.

Watson, Masson and Gray are all definite keeps, but I've been concerned over the form of McCord this season, as he doesn't appear to be the player he was during his first spell at Links Park.

Deasley, Wood and Johnston are all great players on their day, and I'd definitely keep all three.

So, if a new manager can add some additional bodies in defence and midfield, and hold onto the best players already at the club, it might be possible to move me from pessimism to optimism.


Man of the Match: Bryan Deasley's movement and workrate were great today, but his finishing could have been better. Garry Wood took his goal well and looked generally untroubled all afternoon, as did the unusually fiery Jonathan Crawford.

But yet again, Stuart McKenzie was exceptional, keeping Montrose ahead with some magnificent goalkeeping. The best player at the club by a sizeable margin this season.