Dunfermline Athletic are the only side in League 1 with maximum points after leaving it late to defeat Montrose.
For large spells of the game, wasted chances and Stewart Petrie’s tactics had thwarted the Pars, but a link-up by two second-half subs saved the day.
Kick-off was delayed for 15 minutes to let supporters queueing outside time to take their seats.
Montrose shaded the first half on possession but James McPake’s side had the better chances.
The second half was equally as frustrating for Dunfermline but Kyle MacDonald and Nikolay Todorov combined off the bench to score the winner.
Dunfermline’s management team has been banging on all season about taking chances – even after 3- and 5-0 wins.
Within a minute of the delayed kick-off in this one, they had another missed opportunity to rue.
Craig Wighton had just the keeper to beat after being fed by Lewis McCann, but Montrose keeper Ross Sinclair saved with his feet.
🆕 | 𝙎𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙖𝙞𝙧 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙡𝙤𝙖𝙣
The Football Club can confirm Ross Sinclair will join Montrose on loan for the 22/23 season.
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) July 28, 2022
Montrose inevitably came back into the match and their excellent spell culminated in Rory McAllister’s chance after Breen missed the ball, but the striker shot over.
The Pars took control again just before half-time, with Hamilton coming closest with a free header which flew over the bar.
The home side were almost punished when Kerr Waddell’s header struck the post in the closing stages of the match.
Dunfermline’s star man:
Yet again it was the captain at the heart of the defence who stood out.
In the opening 10 minutes Kyle Benedictus made three interceptions before striding on to start attacks.
As has become expected, he was again solid at the back alongside Rhys Breen.
Montrose star man:
He drifted out of the game and was substituted in the second half but MacKinnon was a constant source of danger during Montrose’s first-half spell.
He set up Blair Lyons for a decent chance after doing well to beat his man on the right and would also drift across the park to link with teammates.
Dunfermline (4-3-3): Mehmet 7; Comrie 7, Benedictus 8, Breen 7, Edwards 6; Chalmers 7 (MacDonald 7), Hamilton 6, Todd 7; O’Hara 7 (Todorov 7), McCann 6, Wighton 6 (Mochrie 7).
Montrose (4-2-3-1): Sinclair 7; Hutchison 6 (Allan 7), Waddell 6, Dillon 7, Steeves 7; Wheatley 6, Milne 7; Webster 6, MacKinnon 7, Lyons 7 (Brown 6); McAllister 6 (Wright 6).
Mangers under the microscope
McPake’s big decision was made for him when Paul Allan was ruled out. Hamilton came back into the side and took a while to get going.
His second-half subs all made a difference – and the switch to a back three allowed MacDonald to set up Todorov for the winner.
For Stewart Petrie the game plan almost worked: try to frustrate as long as possible and create on the counter.
If they had taken their chances through McAllister or Waddell it may have been a very different story.
Man in the middle
Two weeks ago this column wrongly suggested Dunfermline should have had a penalty given against them versus Alloa.
At the risk of being wrong again, referee Ross Hardie appeared to give a foul the wrong way when Josh Edwards looked like he was held by in the Montrose box at a corner.
Hardie gave a number of decisions which incensed the home crowd but that was by far the most controversial.