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Peterhead all square with Montrose after play-off 1st leg

Wed 10 May 2017



By Glenn Moir


Peterhead will be content with their night's work after a hard-fought draw in the first leg of their League 1 play-off semi final against Montrose at Links Park.

In front of a very healthy attendance of 1251, Ryan Strachan gave the Blue Toon an early lead with a spectacular goal from distance, although it was quickly cancelled out by Chris Templeman.

The outcome was fair though and it leaves the tie very finely poised for the return match at Balmoor on Saturday.

Following their dramatic comeback win over Alloa, which saved them from automatic relegation, Peterhead made just one change from last weekend's starting line-up with Grant Anderson taking the place of Leighton McIntosh.

Jim McInally's men carved out a half chance in the fourth minute when Craig Reid clipped a ball forward for Anderson. The former Raith winger acrobatically sent an effort towards goal and in doing so, collided with home goalkeeper Allan Fleming, as the Gable Endies defence cleared the danger.

But Strachan made the breakthrough with a superb long range strike in the 10th minute. There appeared to be absolutely no danger when Montrose defender Cammy Ballantyne cleared the ball upfield. It landed at Strachan's feet about 10 yards inside the home half and he thundered a shot in off the upright for a simply stunning goal.

Montrose nearly hit back immediately when Liam Callaghan stood up a free-kick to the far post for Matty Allan, whose downward header was clawed by Graeme Smith.

However, the hosts were level in the 15th minute and it was a well-taken effort by Templeman. The giant striker showed neat skill to jink past Strachan in the box and slot a low shot into the net.

By no means was this a cagey affair as Peterhead broke forward again, this time Anderson dragging a left foot drive just past the post.

The Blue Toon did have the ball in the net in the 33rd minute when Jordon Brown forced in the rebound after McAllister's free-kick was spilled by Allan Fleming but the far side assistant referee flagged for offside.

Graeme Smith pulled off a fine save just before half time to stop Montrose going in front. Templeman's knockdown fell invitingly for Graham Webster, whose powerfully struck shot was turned behind for a corner by the outstretched Smith.

The big keeper was called upon moments after the interval to keep out Gary Fraser's near post effort.

Just before the hour mark, Smith made a crucial stop to thwart Fraser again. The effective Templeman slotted the ball through for Matty Smith and as the winger homed in on goal, Fraser nipped in ahead of him to take the shot but Smith stood firm to made a great block.

Montrose were determined to try and take a lead into the Aberdeenshire fixture and they nearly went in front in the 65th minute when Callaghan swung in a corner, which was glanced by Paul Watson but there were enough visiting bodies on the line to make the clearance.

Peterhead were not sitting back either and after they replaced Anderson and Jordon Brown with Nicky Riley and McIntosh, McAllister tested Fleming with a low angled shot from inside the penalty area, which the keeper had to watch closely.

With nine minutes remaining, McIntosh nodded wide at the far post and then there was a glorious chance for McAllister in stoppage time as he bore in on goal but Fleming made a key save.

For a finisher of McAllister's calibre, it was a big opportunity squandered, although the draw still gives the Blue Toon a very realistic chance of progressing to face either Forfar or Annan.

It's all to play for going into Saturday.




  Reid Strachan Ross Noble

         S.Brown Redman

Stevenson J.Brown Anderson