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Peterhead 3 Montrose 0

Sat 30 Nov 2013

The Blue Toon climbed to the top of League Two as they beat Montrose to take full advantage of the reduced league programme caused by other sides being on Scottish Cup duty.

Rory McAllister had a hand in all three goals, netting the first from a free-kick he had won for himself, before turning provider as Fraser McLaren steered home the second.

Substitute McLaren reversed roles with McAllister as he crossed for the striker to cushion a volley past Montrose’s former Cove Rangers goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie to put the icing on the cake.

Following the 5-0 win over Queen’s Park last Saturday, it was an unchanged Peterhead side that lined up, meaning Craig Tully retained his place alongside Scott Ross and on-loan Reece Donaldson in defence.

There was room on the bench for Ryan Strachan, the midfielder having missed much of the season so far with a knee injury, and he would ultimately make his return from the bench when he replaced Tully after an hour.

Montrose started with six players who once plied their trade at Balmoor. Defenders Stephen McNally and Jon Crawford, midfielders Paul Watson and Graham Webster, in-form striker Bryan Deasley and utility man Gary Wood were those in question.

In common with all games across the country, kick-off was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the tragic helicopter crash in Glasgow last night.

Scott Ross challenges Montrose's Scott Johnston

Once we got underway, it was a relatively tame opening period, with the two sides cancelling each other out before McKenzie became the first goalkeeper to be tested, dealing confidently with Jamie Redman’s volley after 15 minutes.

For the most part, the visitors would be reduced to efforts from distance, and that was the case when Watson’s 25-yard free-kick saw Graeme Smith scramble across his goal to push the strike round the post. And he had to, as the 28-year old’s shot was destined for the top corner.

Scott Ross challenges Montrose's Scott Johnston

Ten minutes later, Graeme Sharp’s right wing cross fell to McAllister at the back post, but the striker saw his effort flash across the face of goal without troubling McKenzie.

The pair combined again, Sharp this time popping up on the left to deliver a tantalising cross towards the head of the striker. McAllister got his angles wrong though, and the ball ended wide of the target after coming off his shoulder.

The striker had one more chance before the interval, sending a free-kick fizzing over the bar from 20 yards.

And the Blue Toon continued to push forward after the interval. Just three minutes after the break, captain Steven Noble crossed from the left for Andy Rodgers, but having scored four goals in his last three games, Rodgers couldn’t direct his back-post head-flick on target.

Just after the hour, Montrose midfielder Terry Masson saw a deflected shot beaten away by Smith, but Peterhead were soon in front.

McAllister used all his experience to tempt former team-mate Wood into a foul 20 yards from goal, which saw the Montrose man booked. The Blue Toon’s top scorer lined up the set-piece, and drilled a low shot, arrow-straight into the bottom corner.

McLaren replaced Rodgers straight away, and almost immediately added the second goal. McAllister turned provider, timing his run nicely to beat the offside trap and cut the ball back for his new strike-partner at the back post. McLaren opened his foot up, and steered home.

Fraser McLaren takes the plaudits for his goal

McKenzie again saved comfortably from McAllister, before Masson saw Smith push another effort from outside the area over the before McAllister rounded off the scoring ten minutes from time.

McLaren was the creator this time, swinging in a cross from the right wing. It was judged perfectly for McAllister, and the ex-Brechin man side-footed home a neat volley, his tenth goal of the campaign.

So, three points and a second successive clean sheet move the Balmoor side to the top of the table on goal difference from Clyde and with the recent return to fitness of both Ross and Strachan, things are starting to fall into place for Jim McInally’s men ahead as the season nears the half-way point.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 66), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 74), Craig Tully (Ryan Strachan, 60). Subs not used: Dean Richardson, Ryan McCann, Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Tully, Cowie.

MONTROSE: Stuart McKenzie, Stephen McNally, Ricky McIntosh, Jon Crawford, Gary Wood, Ross McCord, Terry Masson, Paul Watson, Scott Johnston, Bryan Deasley, Graham Webster (Keiron Sturrock, 75). Subs not used: David Gray, Colin Wilson, Alan Campbell, Craig Bell, Sandy Wood (gk).

Booked: Crawford, G.Wood.

Attendance: 473