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Peterhead 0 Montrose 1

Sat 05 Jan 2013

After a promising festive period, Peterhead were brought back to earth with a thump after playoff rivals Montrose sealed a narrow win at Balmoor.

And Jim McInally’s side had Graeme Smith to thank for keeping the score down, as the visitors dominated the first half, and could have been out of sight by half time.

Following their impressive win over Elgin City in midweek, Jim McInally made just one change to his side, bringing in Graeme Sharp for Jamie Redman, Sharp having impressed after replacing the latter early on against Elgin. With six stitches in a head wound, Redman was left on the bench.

Any hopes that the Borough Briggs victory could act as a springboard for the Blue Toon were quickly forgotten, as Montrose took the lead early on. A succession of corners ended with Scott Johnston firing into the net after Lloyd Young’s delivery was only partially cleared.

The visitors could have been further ahead within ten minutes, with Smith making a fine double-save to deny Terry Masson and Gary Wood, the ball eventually going out for a corner.

When Young delivered again, defender Alan Campbell met the ball well, only for Sharp to pop up on the line and head clear.

It was almost midway into the first half when Peterhead threatened for the first time, Martin Bavidge finding David Cox at the back post, and Sandy Wood turning his header over the crossbar.

Normal service was, though, swiftly resumed. Campbell’s ball over the top sent the on-loan Dundee forward Leighton McIntosh clear, only for Smith to once again come to Peterhead’s rescue.

A minute later, midfielder Terry Masson saw a header come off the inside of the post, and Ryan Strachan make a timely appearance on the line to clear the danger as it seemed a second goal was inevitable.

And keeper Smith was called into action once more, after slack play in the midfield from Cox allowed McIntosh through on goal. Smith again did well to deny the striker, but Young’s failure to find the target was inexplicable.

One can only imagine the message McInally put across at the interval, but his side certainly came out after the interval with a renewed sense of vigour. They were not quite as threatening as Montrose had been during the first 45, but had a lot of second-half possession.

Sharp served notice of their intentions when he sent a 25-yard strike skipping towards the goal, but Wood was equal to it, and turned the effort away for a corner kick.

And Rory McAllister looked all set to level after 62 minutes when Strachan’s wickedly curling cross seemed destined for his head, only to fizz over the former Brechin City man, and narrowly wide of the far post.

Robbie Winters and Stephen Maguire both entered the fray as Peterhead looked for a way through the well-drilled visiting defence, with even Craig Tully thrown up front when he was came on late in the game.

But try as they might, Peterhead struggled to put Wood’s goal under any real threat, and they were left to rue the chance to build on consecutive wins in their last two games.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Dean Cowie (Craig Tully, 85), Steven Noble, Ryan McCann, Ross Smith, Ryan Strachan, David Cox, Graeme Sharp (Stephen Maguire, 76), Rory McAllister (Robbie Winters, 63), Martin Bavidge, Scott McLaughlin. Subs not used: Jamie Redman, Paul Jarvie (gk)

Attendance: 594