Match Report - By Steven Mew
Scott Reekie’s second half equaliser earned City a deserved draw in the last Betfred Cup group match against Montrose yesterday afternoon – with the Gable Endies winning 4-2 on penalties to collect the bonus point.
City could have easily been celebrating their first competitive win of the season, with Chris McLaughlin’s thunderous volley in the first half appearing to cross the line after being fumbled by the Montrose goalkeeper. However the goal was not given.
There were three changes to the side that lost at St Johnstone on Wednesday, with new signing Ross Sinclair starting in goal at the expense of Lewis McMinn. Meanwhile, Lee Duncanson and Olly Hamilton came in for Kieran Inglis and the injured Ryan McCord.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors on 12 minutes when Lewis Milne’s effort from range was palmed away by Sinclair into the path of Terry Masson who was unable to sort out his feet to take advantage of the rebound. Milne would try his luck again minutes later when the ball was teed up for him on the edge of the box but his powerful volley was straight at Sinclair.
Montrose would continue to threaten and on 26 minutes it took a latch ditch block by Scott Reekie on the goal-line to deny Ross Campbell from putting the Gable Endies in front.
Shortly after the half hour mark City should have been ahead when McLaughlin’s audacious volley from 35 yards caught Lennox by surprise - the keeper fumbled and the ball appeared to cross the line quite comfortably however despite City appeals the referee waved play on.
City would come close again minutes later when Knox cut the ball back for McLaughlin whose goalbound shot was well blocked before the Montrose rearguard cleared to safety. Shortly before half time, Jamie Reid’s corner was met by McManus at the back post but the City skipper couldn’t keep his header down.
Six minutes into the second half, Lewis Milne’s deflected free kick brought out a superb save by Sinclair – however Montrose would get their noses in front with 57 minutes on the clock. ROSS CAMPBELL, who netted twice in the last meeting between the sides, was back on the scoresheet again with a well placed shot from the edge of the box nestling into the bottom corner.
On loan St Johnstone keeper Sinclair was enjoying a thoroughly impressive debut and he had to be at full stretch to push away a powerful shot from Blair Lyons, before denying Terry Masson with his feet minutes later after some clever link up play inside the box.
Despite the visitors creating the majority of the chances, City were back on level terms after 73 minutes. A corner from Matthew Knox on the right evaded several players in the box before falling invitingly for defender SCOTT REEKIE who finished with aplomb.
City had their tails up following the equaliser and came close to grabbing the winner eight minutes from time when McManus played Olly Hamilton clean through on goal but he was denied by the feet of Lennox. Several minutes later, Ross Crawford got on the end of a low cross from Duncanson but was unable to get enough on the ball which was gathered by the Montrose keeper.
The match ended all square which meant a penalty shootout for the bonus point. Ross Sinclair made a terrific save to deny Martin Rennie from the first spot kick however City were unable to capitalise as Dougie Hill blazed over.
Lewis Milne put the visitors ahead before Ross Crawford’s penalty was saved by Lennox. Matthew Knox and Sean McIntosh both converted for City with Steeves and Webster doing likewise for the visitors before McLean tucked away the winning penalty for the bonus point.
Following the game, Manager Barry Smith said, “After such a difficult game against St Johnstone in midweek, they’ve shown that their fitness levels are improving and that was shown today against a Montrose team that has mostly been together for 2 or 3 years.
“We’re still getting to know each other as a team but I was definitely happy with the performance today. We thought McLaughlin’s shot was over the line but the linesman hasn’t given it so we’ve just got to get on with it.
“It would have been easily for the heads to go down after we conceded the goal but the boys showed a lot of character to get back into the game and we probably had one of the better chances to win when Olly was denied following a great move and through experience he will put that in the back of the net the next time.
“Scott (Reekie) had some great interceptions and he’s got the goal for us. He’s been a real plus throughout pre-season and into the Betfred games.
“We’re happy with the progress but everybody is still looking to improve – individually and as a team and I’m sure we will do that.”
Following an impressive debut by Ross Sinclair in goal, Barry said, “We wanted competition in the goalkeeper area and to keep everyone on their toes. Ross has shown he is up for the fight.”