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4 Montrose talking points as Gable Endies go into second-leg with narrow lead ending Airdrie unbeaten run

Craig Johnston scored what proved to be the winner early on.
Craig Johnston scored what proved to be the winner early on.

Montrose go into their Championship play-off second leg with a narrow advantage after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Airdrie.

An early Craig Johnston goal was enough to separate the sides at Links Park.

Montrose came flying out the traps and found themselves ahead thanks to a defensive blunder, leaving an easy tap in for the Gables Endies forward.

Airdrie came into the game and threatened late on but were unable to get through the resolute Mo defence as their 20-game unbeaten run came to a stuttering halt.

Courier Sport takes a looks at four talking points from the Championship play-off first leg between Montrose and Airdrie.

Dylan Easton nullified

Fresh from his League One player of the Year award, Dylan Easton was the main man Montrose had to be wary of.

Montrose midfielder Mark Whatley hounds Dylan Easton of Airdrie.
Montrose midfielder Mark Whatley hounds Dylan Easton of Airdrie.

But the 28-year-old was not given a moment with Mark Whatley tailing his every move.

Any time Easton had the ball at his feet, the threat was snuffed out before he could look up.

The playmaker was forced deeper and deeper but he struggled to pick a forward pass through the Mo defence.

Deja vu?

Montrose have been here before. Last year, they led the two-legged play-off going into the away to at Morton. Only to suffer late heartbreak.

Seven of that XI started against Airdrie.

Only Mark Whatley, Lyall Cameron, Michael Gardyne and Blair Lyons were the new faces from that line-up.

The Links Park crowd
The Links Park crowd

The team will not want to experience that again.

The Gable Endies suffered a 4-1 defeat on their last visit to the Excelsior Stadium.

Although the 1-0 lead will be very much welcome, Airdrie will still fancy their chances at home.

Montrose will have to up their game and hope for a repeat of their opening day clash where they won 3-0 on the Diamonds’ turf.

Unbeaten run smashed

December 7 was the last time Airdrie lost a game of league football. Ironically, that defeat came at the hands of Montrose.

And 20 games later, it was the Gable Endies who inflicted their next defeat in a league competition.

The Lanarkshire side showed just glimpses of quality but Montrose were able to match them in just about every department.

They looked threatening going forward late on but the Angus side thwarted any attempt going forward.

Key men

Goal scorer Craig Johnston grabbed his chance on nine minutes giving his side the lead. Other than his early effort, the forward had to be patient throughout the 90.

His pace did trouble the Airdrie backline and was unlucky not to get a second mid-way through the second half, forcing a spectacular save from the keeper.

Michael Gardyne plays in a ball.
Michael Gardyne plays in a ball.

Experienced winder Michael Gardyne was almost unplayable down the left, weaving in and out of defenders. His final ball was often lacking but he proved a constant threat.

The aforementioned Whatley also had an excellent game. The 31-year-old did not let anything pass him in the middle of the park and nullified any danger, until his substitution late on.

 

 

 

 

 

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