GOALS either side of the interval from skipper Mitch Megginson secured victory in our League One encounter at Links Park on a proud night for the club.
The win guarantees us a place in the Championship promotion play-offs – an astonishing achievement when you consider we were still a Highland League side just two seasons ago.
The management team and players deserve every plaudit going for the parts played in what has been one of the most remarkable success stories in Scottish football in recent years.
We went into this one still with a slim chance of winning the title, unfortunately that was killed off by Partick Thistle’s 5-0 victory over Falkirk at Firhill Stadium.
With just one league game remaining before the play-offs, credit has to go to the players who have earned that right by playing exciting, attacking football for the bulk of the campaign.
That was underlined by the sheer quality of our opening goal against the Gable Endies.
Our play-off place has also been secured in a tightly contested division containing three full-time clubs, in addition to the players having to battle through a tough programme of fixtures since returning from the last lockdown.
It is a testament to their levels of fitness that there was little evidence of fatigue as they went about dominating the match from start to finish.
We showed four changes to the side that drew with Partick at the weekend, with Kieran Ngwenya, Connor Smith, Daniel Higgins and Broque Watson all in from the start.
Youngsters Ngwenya and Smith, like so many others, impressed in a fixture that we controlled from the off.
They created our first chance, in the 12th minute, with some fine combination play on the left that led to Blair Yule sending a header over the bar from the edge of the Montrose box.
Ngwenya then played the ball in from the left to Smith and he fired a 20-yard shot just over the Montrose goal.
Smith was the architect of our next chance, in the 22nd minute, with a well weighted pass through to Megginson and his 22-yard drive wasn’t too far off target.
Montrose didn’t create any chances until the 26th minute, when Graham Webster managed to get in behind our defence to send an 18-yard lob off target.
We were soon back on the attack for Watson to cut in from the right and hit a 15-yard shot that was blocked by a defender.
The ball broke out to Scott Ross and his cross was nodded over the bar by Megginson.
Montrose defender Cammy Ballantyne was booked in the 39th minute, for a foul on Megginson.
The goal arrived just on the stroke of half-time – and it came from a fantastic passing move from one end of the park to the other.
Keeper Stuart McKenzie started it with a ball out to Yule, who then laid it off to Fraser Fyvie.
The midfielder’s low pass forward was deftly flicked on by MEGGINSON to Leighton McIntosh, with the skipper then darting forward to collect the return before advancing into the Montrose area to drill a low 16-yard shot into the bottom corner.
It was more of the same in the second period as we continued where we had left off.
Megginson went close again in the 48th minute, when he skipped past three defenders during a run through the middle before hitting a low shot from the edge of the area wide of Montrose keeper Allan Fleming’s left post.
MEGGINSON’S persistence was rewarded with the second, in the 52nd minute.
Smith’s cross from the left was missed by everyone as it sped across the area to Megginson and he kept his cool as he controlled the ball, skipped to his left then drilled it home from 16-yards.
Fyvie maintained our two goal advantage, just after the hour, when he was well placed to clear Russel McLean’s header off the line after Lewis Milne had fed a corner in from the left.
It was the only time our otherwise rock-solid defence were really bothered.
Home keeper Fleming then stopped us increasing our lead with marvellous double save.
He beat away McIntosh’s powerful shot from the edge of the area and also did well to get to Watson’s net-bound effort from the rebound.
Winger Watson appeared to be fouled as he attempted to latch on to the rebound from that save, but referee Alan Newlands waved away our claims for a penalty.
Rory McAllister, who replaced Megginson after 68 minutes, was unlucky not to end the night with a hat-trick.
He wasn’t too far off the mark with a curling shot from a tight angle on the right that went across the face of the Montrose goal and wide.
McAllister also sent an 18-yard lob over the bar in the 87th minute and went even closer in the last minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the area that went inches wide of Fleming’s right.
The game ended with Seb Ross passing to McAllister, who saw yet another effort go agonisingly wide, but getting no more goals did not take the shine off what was a top class team performance.
MONTROSE: Fleming, Cammy Ballantyne (MacFarlane 85), Steeves, Callaghan (Cammy F Ballantyne 56), Quinn (McGale 68), Dillon, Webster (Rennie 85), Milne, McLean, Masson, Mochrie (Antoniazzi 46).
Subs: Allan, Campbell, Johnston, Lennox.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Scott Ross, Strachan, Watson, Yule, Megginson (McAllister 68), McIntosh (Seb Ross 68) Higgins, Smith (Hanratty 77), Fyvie (Scully 77), Ngwenya (Livingstone 68)
Subs: Graham, Logan, Demus.
Referee: Alan Newlands.Montrose Reaction: The Manager & Mitch »