Rory McAllister’s 16th goal of the season was enough to see us through a tough and tense cinch League One tussle with the Gable Endies at Balmoral Stadium.
Rory struck in the 10th minute of a match that lived up to what you would expect from the sides who began the afternoon occupying the top two positions in the division.
Montrose fought back strongly in the second period, but were repelled by some outstanding defending, despite the fact we had to cope with losing skipper Mitch Megginson, full-back Shay Logan and midfielder Iain Vigurs to injuries by the interval.
The team defiance was such that keeper Stuart McKenzie had only one real save to make as we held on for what could end up being a crucial victory.
We began the match the strongest and Montrose keeper Aaron Lennox had to be quick off the mark to punch a Logan cross away from the head of Megginson inside the six-yard box, after just two minutes.
Megginson appeared to take a knock colliding with the keeper and required lengthy treatment when he was forced to sit down in the pitch a minute later, just inside the Montrose half.
The striker was able to continue, although unfortunately it wouldn’t be for too much longer.
Montrose had their first chance in the fifth minute, when full-back Cammy Ballantyne broke forward to fire an 18-yard shot wide.
The goal that eventually decided the match was a cracker.
Vigurs sliced open the Montrose defence with a brilliant pass for Harry Milne to run on to as he overlapped down the left wing.
Full-back Milne then hit the byline before firing a low cross over to the back post for McALLISTER to prod home from inside the six-yard box.
Lennox then did well to parry a pile-driver from Fraser Fyvie in the 14th minute, seconds before Megginson again went down injured.
He was unable to recover on this occasion, so was replaced by Leighton McIntosh.
The Fyvie/Milne combination out on our left was causing problems for Montrose and Lennox did well to cut out another dangerous cross from the latter in the 20th minute.
McAllister was desperately unlucky not to put us 2-0 up in the 24th minute.
Blair Yule, who was voted man-of-the-match by sponsors Forum Energy Technology, played the ball down the right to McIntosh and when he crossed it back over McAllister’s shot deflected off a defender before bouncing on the top of the Montrose crossbar and going behind for a corner.
Montrose responded with Cammy Ballantyne sending a free-kick over from the left for Sean Dillon to head wide from 10-yards.
Fyvie had another go from distance, in the 29th minute, and Lennox was relieved to see the effort go wide of his left post.
We lost a second experienced player in the 40th minute, when Logan was forced to limp off and was replaced by Jevan Anderson.
Almost immediately, Milne was being applauded by his team-mates for making an excellent defensive header at the edge of his six-yard box to clear a dangerous cross from Ballantyne.
Montrose also received a blow in the last minute of the half, when keeper Lennox was unable to continue after injuring himself clearing the ball away from McAllister.
We ended the half with McAllister sending a header inches wide after meeting yet another excellent cross from Milne.
Connor Scully was on for Vigurs for the restart, and we almost added to our lead in the 47th minute.
McAllister latched on to a weak pass-back by a Montrose defender then cheekily back-heeled the ball to McIntosh, but replacement keeper Allan Fleming managed to grab a hold of the striker’s shot from the edge of the area.
Montrose forced McKenzie to make his only proper save of the match in the 51st minute, when he dived to push a Michael Gardyne shot wide of his left post.
The visitors missed a glorious chance to equalise from the resulting corner.
Liam Callaghan took the kick and his cross found Aidan Quinn totally unmarked at the back post, but the defender sent a weak header wide of the target.
Montrose really pushed hard for a goal after that, but found themselves up against a side who were happy to put their bodies on the line to prevent them actually getting any shots at McKenzie.
Milne, Yule, Anderson and Morgyn Neill all made crucial interceptions inside the area to help to maintain our lead.
We were also a constant threat on the break.
In the 64th minute, Yule fired the ball low through to McIntosh and his shot was deflected just wide.
Fyvie started our next attack with a splendid pass wide to Scully and his equally impressive low cross sped across the face of the Montrose goal with no takers.
McKenzie was called into action again in the 73rd minute, although he had no problems gathering a close-range header from Montrose substitute Elijah Simpson.
Having weathered the Montrose storm, we went on to create the best of the chances in the latter stages.
Scully sent a free-kick in from the right and McIntosh was unfortunate to see his 16-yard header go wide.
McAllister also sent an overhead kick off target before we entered the six minutes of injury-time added on by referee Matthew Macdermid, but we held on to get the win our sheer guts and determination deserved.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Neill, Milne, Ross, Strachan, Yule, Megginson (McIntosh 14), McAllister, Vigurs (Scully 46), Fyvie, Logan (Anderson 46).
Subs: Masson, Adeyemo, Leitch, Gourlay.
MONTROSE: Lennox (Fleming 44), Cammy Ballantyne, Steeves, Allan (Masson 46), Dillon, Quinn, Webster (Simpson 67), Cammy F Ballantyne, Gardyne, Callaghan (Watson 74), Lyons.
Subs: Whatley, Brown, Keatings.
Referee: Mathew Macdermid.Matchday 22 Gallery | Montrose (H) »