Powerful Second Half Display Decisive by Easton Thain
Montrose 2 Buckie Thistle 1
The Jags headed to Angus for their second pre-season friendly hoping to give the Gable Endies of Montrose a game at Links Park and they partly succeeded in that with a fine first half display at the end of which they rightly emerged in the lead. In the second half though the raft of changes that Montrose could make – they had eight outfield subs to the Jags four – paid dividends as they attacked almost constantly and in the end that was too much for Thistle to withstand. Having said that the Jags must have been disappointed with the two goals that they conceded which were of the soft variety. There were some positives though with the first half play of Chris Angus catching the eye whereas the searing pace of Liam Baxter cause the home defence all sorts of problems. Kevin Main again showed his class with some fine saves whilst ‘Zico’ Davidson looked solid enough filling in at the back alongside Lewis McKinnon.
‘Franny’ MacMillan had the first chance of the game in the 2nd minute being set up by Chris Angus but he fired an ambitious shot over. Five minutes later the Jags had a great chance to open the scoring when a ball through found Chris Angus who homed in on goal but his cross drive was stopped by Stuart Mackenzie’s boot and the keeper then gathered the ball. Moments on at the other end Paul Watson set up Garry Wood but he blasted a drive well over the bar. In the 15th minute a drive from Ross McLeod was deflected for a corner which was met by Alan Campbell but he headed wide. Two minutes later Thistle had a good chance when Chris Angus set up Shaun Carrol but he shot wide. In the 26th minute the Jags took the lead with an excellent goal. From deep Lewis McKinnon sent a stupendous ball deep into the box whereupon Chris Angus ghosted in to send a header that looped over Stuart McKenzie and into the net – the goal was not unlike that of Robin Van Persie for Holland against Spain in the World Cup Finals, just not so far out! Six minutes later Thistle had a superb opportunity to double their lead when Liam Baxter was set free, he exchanged passes with ‘Franny’ MacMillan before homing in on goal before flashing a shot past the onrushing Stuart McKenzie but the effort went pas the far post. Montrose put on a spurt late in the half firstly in the 34th minute when Lewis McKinnon appeared to be tripped causing him to slip and the ball fell to Paul Watson who smacked it in but Kevin Main pulled off a fine save Moments later a cross from Ross McLeod found Scott Johnson but his drive was deflected behind. Two minutes later Kevin Main did well to punch away a dangerous corner and in the 39th minute Paul Watson hit a dipping shot onto the roof of the net. A minute before the break a home corner led to another and the ball eventually fell to Stephen Day but he shot wide
Half-time Montrose 0 Buckie Thistle 1
The introduction by Montrose of Stephen O’ Neill at the start of the second half had immediate effect as two minutes in he raced through but fortunately he got his bearings wrong and shot well wide. In the 52nd minute the ball was worked to Paul Watson who fired in a drive but Kevin Main pulled off a fine save. Just 60 seconds later however the Gable Endies drew level when a ball in cause panic and Ben Stewart’s clearance only found the unmarked Paul Watson who slammed a drive past Kevin Main. From then on the Gable Endies dander was up and they piled forward. In the 69th minute Stephen O’ Neil curled in a fine free-kick only to see Kevin Main pull off another fine save. Six minutes on a rare Jags break saw Ben Stewart play a fine ball down the line to Drew Copeland who bore down on goal but he was out-muscled by a home defender and the ball went harmlessly past. 60 seconds on at the other end Paul Watson drove in a free-kick low and hard but Kevin Main held the effort. Then in the 78th minute a home free kick into the box caused a real ‘stramash’ with defenders trying to clear and forwards trying to poke the ball home but eventually Kevin Main flopped onto the ball. The keeper could do little two minutes on though when Stephen O’ Neil floated a free-kick into the Thistle box and the unmarked Paul Watson powered home an unstoppable header. That was basically that as the Jags had no chances to respond and so Montrose eased home for a win they just about deserved.
Full-time Montrose 2 Buckie Thistle 1
The result was not the most important matter on Saturday as it was about the Jags getting up towards match fitness and for the gaffer to see what players he has at his disposal. Gary hake would have been pleased with the first half display but disappointed with the second and the goal conceded. The first half saw a decent display with some good wing and forward play but Thistle struggled in the second 45 perhaps not surprising with nine players unavailable and only four outfield subs to call on with Bob Duncan just back from the injury that kept him out for most of last season. The next test is at home to Banks O’ Dee this coming Saturday and the Junior Super League side will want to take the scalp of a Highland League club and will make it tough for Thistle. Again the result is not the most important matter but am sure the jags would like to get some wins under their belt before the massively difficult opening competitive game at Cove Rangers in the Aberdeenshire Cup on the 30th.
Montrose – McKenzie, S Webster (Wilson), Bell (Hamilton), Candalo (K McLeod), Campbell, R McLeod (O’ Neill), Masson (Thomson), Watson, Wood (G Webster), Johnson (Sturrock) and Day (Scanlon)
Buckie Thistle – Main, B Stewart, D Wood (Duncan), Munro, McKinnon, Davidson, Angus, Carrol (J Cheyne), MacMillan (Copeland), Baxter and S Gauld (Alexander)