Sunday, December 14, 2014

Season 2014/2015: Match 5: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

I've now seen Montrose five times this season. Here's their record in matches I've been to:

Played: 5
Won: 0
Drew: 0
Lost: 5
Scored: 3
Conceded: 16

Not pretty, is it?

Montrose actually looked half decent yesterday, taking the game to the team sitting second in Serie Z4, and coming close through Garry Wood on a couple of occasions.

But Queen's Park opened the scoring against the run of play in the 24th minute when John Carter was sent clear of the defence and slipped a low shot past Stuart McKenzie.

They doubled their lead in the 36th minute thanks to schoolboy defending of the worst kind, Paul Woods heading home Darren Miller's corner at the back post, having been left completely unmarked.

Montrose were given a lifeline in the 64th minute when Leighton McIntosh was tripped in the box, Wood making no mistakes with the penalty.

But it was too little from Montrose, who remain 7th in the league, three points off the playoffs and six off the bottom of the table.

Man of the Match: A year ago I'd have been happy to see Montrose cut Leighton McIntosh loose. He looked completely lacking in confidence, a yard off the pace and unable to pass the ball or score.

A year on, he's like a different player. Playing on the right today, he was by far Montrose's best player, his pace giving Queen's Park problems throughout. With better finishing from Wood, he might have had a couple of assists, but he did win the penalty that led to Montrose's goal. Fast, determined and electric, if he can maintain that momentum the season may not be a write-off.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 4: Montrose 0 Clyde 3 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

A glutton for punishment, I was today accompanied by not one but two Jocklings at today's Montrose match, as I aimed for the perfect storm: two kids under the age of four, one in nappies and one currently obsessed with sampling as many toilets as possible; pishing rain; and the abject football served up by Montrose.

In some respsects, it was good to have the Jocklings with me, as it meant I barely saw any of the football.

I was on my way down the stairs en route to the toilets when Clyde scored their first after 35 seconds; I was wrestling open a packet of chocolate buttons when they scored their second; and when they scored their third in the second half, I'd forgotten we'd had the half time break, so applauded what I thought was a Montrose goal.

What little I did see looked grim. Montrose struggled to keep the ball, Clyde dominating possession and powering forwards at every opportunity. For some reason Paul Watson was on the bench, while Alan Campbell is injured.

Montrose played their third goalkeeper in as many matches, Stuart McKenzie still suspended and Lucas Birnstingl having run off to Canada before Lee Wilkie eats his spleen. Did I mention the new fella's first touch was to pick the ball out of the net after 35 SECONDS?

On top of all that misery, I had Little Jocklette asking where Monty the Mole was and why there were no rainbow drops in the pie hut.

Oh, and Barry Ferguson's hair makes him look like a sad, middle aged Tin-Tin tribute act.

Man of the Match: Not a fucking clue.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 3: Montrose 1 Arbroath 5 (The Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Deja fucking vu.

A fortnight between encounters, half an hour less of play, two more goals, one fewer goalkeeper by the end of the match.

Despite the scoreline, Montrose were better today than they were a fortnight ago, although they could have played all day and struggled to score from open play.

Arbroath passed up a fair few chances as well, but they did manage to score five. One was a penalty after Lucas Birnstingl was sent off for a late foul on Paul McManus. Having used their three substitutions already, Montrose put their biggest lump between the sticks, Garry Wood's first touch while wearing the keeper's gloves the unfortunate task of picking the penalty out of the net.

He shipped a second (and Arbroath's fifth) in stoppage time as McManus added his second.

Strangest goal of the afternoon came courtesy of former Montrose goalkeeper David Crawford. Div thumped a free kick from 10 yards outside his own box up the park, watching the ball bounce once and fly through Birnstingl's hands and into the net. The fact that the ball was moving in the wind when he took the kick was deemed irrelevant by both Crawford and referee Craig Charleston, but not by the Montrose bench, driven incandescent with rage.

Montrose's only goal came from the penalty spot, courtesy of a soft award when Scott Johnston decided to lie down in the box near Arbroath's Kevin Nicoll. Wood made no mistakes from the spot.

I can barely be bothered to analyse today's performance. Deasley looked livelier than I've seen him so far this season, and with better composure would have had a goal.

Leighton McIntosh came on as a sub and looked better than he has in at least two years, while Wood was typically tireless up front.

Defensively Montrose were a mess, leaving gaping holes at the back that Arbroath should have exploited much better than they did - Montrose could easily have been four goals down by half time.

There were few highlights today. The most entertainment I had was trying to decipher what the new Links Park stadium announcer was havering about - I'm sure at one point he boldly stated that Montrose fans should "come and see Willy, he has great tattoos and a bottle of wine, tickets just £12".

Which sounds like a better deal than watching Montrose get humped by Arbroath every second Saturday.

Man of the Match: Slim pickings from Montrose. I thought Bryan Deasley looked good, finishing excepted, but I appear to have been in the minority there. Ross McCord looked better than he has for a wee while, with a bit of bite and purpose to his play. Choosing between the two, I'd go for McCord.

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.