I arrived at Gayfield nice an early, just in time to witness yet another magnificent evening…have we actually had any bad weather on match day in Arbroath recently? There were queues to get in again and there was a substantial home attendance. The segregated seaside enclosure was nice and full, plenty of fans behind the goal, some more round on the other side of the terracing, and even our half of the stand looked nice and full. BBC gave the attendance at an impressive 1,250, with most of us in the segregated half of the pitch.
There were of course downsides to arriving with ten minutes to wait, the main one being the Montrose training. Deadly they were with shooting practice, deadly! Ball after ball was fired indiscriminately into the crowd, by the time they left the field the crowd was flinching every time a player kicked a ball. Assuming this wasn't a tactic to intimidate the home fans, it does show why Montrose have been finding goals so hard to come by!
So the match kicked off to a fantastic home support, and a few away fans. I noticed that
Both teams were definitely up for it, but the ball pinged aimlessly around midfield for a while, evidently to give them time to get used to the conditions (it was a lovely evening, perfect for football).
After ten minutes of nothing, we stepped up a notch and started passing the ball around nicely. Montrose started punting the ball aimlessly to us. And there was the main difference between the two teams! When we had a goal kick, we took it short, passed it through the team, and then gave it to Stein or Flyer to create an opportunity. When Montrose had a kick, their keeper punted it a long, long, long way – and generally straight back to us.
We were pretty rampant, holding on to the ball, showing fluent passing, and creating chances. As we took control of the game, Montrose lost their spirit. Although they were initially up for it, it didn't take much for their aggression and confidence to be knocked out of them.
We then scored an easy goal, Andy Reilly heading it into the goal, straight through the arms of the keeper. He should have saved it, but didn't, and this was made even more obvious when he started kicking the turf in frustration. He didn't get any consolation from his team mates, nor did he get a mouthful of abuse. Instead, he got looks. In particular, three Montrose players standing in a line gave him such a look of disgust that I'm still chuckling away thinking about it.
We ended the first half more or less controlling the game, we had a few chances, but in the main we simply held on to possession and passed them off the pitch. It had been a very clean game, no real nasty tackles. Evidently we were on our best behaviour after the
The second half started out as the first ended, with us holding on to the ball and creating the occasional chance. We had a few chances to go two up, with one effort off the post, a couple more flashing just wide, and a couple saved, we were unlucky not to go two up.
Montrose were not really threatening us at all, every time they regained possession, they simply hoofed it straight back to us again! The game was starting to peter out; we were playing nice possession football in our own half, keeping hold of the ball but not really going anywhere. This meant that not only were there no fans in the away end, there were no players either. We brought on Scott and
Really, nothing happened! Nobody put any tough tackles in, neither side pushed for a goal, and despite having the lion's share of possession, the home fans were getting frustrated. We wanted action, and more importantly, we wanted blood! This was possibly the tamest derby I have ever seen! Near the end, Stein (who had had a good first half, but tired in the second) was replaced by McCulloch. I was unconvinced about the merits of this as it left us playing with two natural left backs with neither Gardner nor McCulloch seeming to want to play in midfield.
Right at the death, Montrose turned up. They remembered that it was in fact a game of football, and started passing it about. This put us under a bit of pressure…but not enough to really threaten us. The home fans started to stream out with ten minutes to go, evidently bored to tears with us passing the ball about aimlessly!
At the end, Dobbo came over and applauded the fans, which indicates to me that he is definitely away to pastures new! It was a nice gesture, and we'll be sad to see him go! All in all though, a pretty comfortable home win for us, making it six on the trot and with John McGlashan undefeated in derby matches. Montrose are going nowhere fast, and they have some good players there. They need to make changes or there will be fans lost forever to them and the club will never be revived. We need a competitive derby!