Two second-half goals from top scorer Rory McAllister, taking this season’s tally against Montrose to five, was enough to give Peterhead a 3 – 2 victory over the Gable Endies at Links Park Stadium on Saturday, writes Andrew Stephen.
There was a bit of luck about the striker’s 83rd minute goal that crashed off the underside of the bar.
It looked debatable if it had crossed the line but assistant Duncan Smith felt it had and awarded Peterhead a killer third goal.
The match was a game of two halves at a rain lashed Links Park with the home side on top for the first and the visitors on top in the second.
Whatever was said in the Blue Toon dressing room at half time worked as the visitors went about their business in a professional manner against a side that hadn’t won since December 7.
Montrose got the match underway with the elements in their favour.
In the third minute Montrose won a free kick when Ricky McIntosh was fouled by Gilfillan. Gray took the free kick and when the ball rebounded back to him he fired an effort wide of goal.
In the fifth minute McIntosh fouled Rodgers in a dangerous position and Strachan slipped a quick ball down the wing but McAllister was caught in an offside position.
With eleven minutes gone Bryan Deasley found himself onside from a McKenzie kick out but Sharp got back to put in a brilliant block to clear the netbound effort.
Montrose kept up the pressure and in the following minute Gray won a free kick when Gilfillan pushed him off the ball. Gray’s free kick found Garry Wood but the captain could only head straight at Smith.
Peterhead then won a free kick just outside the area when Paul Watson tripped Gilfillan.
McAllister sent his kick around the wall but, thankfully for Montrose, also around the near post.
Montrose opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with their first goal of 2014 and what a strike it was.
Garry Wood pounced on an error in defence by Peterhead and with everyone expecting a cross to the back post the striker fired home an angled drive into the bottom corner via the post for his fourth goal of the season.
Four minutes later Montrose wasted a free kick on the centre circle after Deasley was fouled by Cowie.
Luke Johnston played the ball forward but was too quick with his kick and Peterhead were able to clear.
Montrose almost added a second goal in the 27th minute. Deasley found Graham Webster with a pass along the penalty area and the midfielder’s effort was brilliantly tipped over by Smith to save a certain goal.
Gray’s corner was too strong but when the ball fell to Webster at the far post he whipped over a cross.
McNally’s cross was blocked by a Peterhead defender.
In the 33rd minute Garry Wood was fouled by Strachan giving Montrose a free kick some 20 yards out. David Gray took the free kick but he couldn’t get enough bend on the ball and his effort went wide of the far post.
Play was held up for treatment on former Montrose striker Andy Rodgers after he went down in the centre circle but he was able to continue after treatment.
Gray then fouled Sharp in a dangerous position but when Noble whipped in the free kick McNally was able to complete the clearance inside his own area.
The ball then bounced back to Gilfillan but he could only fire a poor effort straight at McKenzie.
On the stroke of half time, Graham Webster was warned for a late tackle on Rodgers.
Montrose went so close to doubling their tally two minutes into the second half.
Sharp pushed Gray on the far touchline and when the midfielder’s free kick came in the former Gable Endie went close to heading into his own net only for Graeme Smith to pull off a wonderful save at the back post.
From Montrose’s corner kick Peterhead broke quickly up the park through Rodgers and his cut back was fired past the post by McAllister with Deasley putting in a great challenge to put him off.
Disaster struck Montrose in the 50th minute when Peterhead equalised in fortunate circumstances.
Montrose failed to stop the ball going out for a corner kick and when Steven Noble’s wind assisted cross came in it hit off the head of Alan Campbell and past a rooted McKenzie.
Graham Webster then became the first booking of the afternoon for a high tackle on Jamie Redman when it appeared both players were going in for a fifty-fifty ball.
In the 55th minute Peterhead took the lead through another Montrose error.
A magnificent through ball from Dean Cowie opened up the home defence and Rory McAllister was allowed to run on round McKenzie and knock the ball home into the unguarded net.
Three minutes later tempers became frayed after a midfield tackle on a Montrose player.
Gilfillan and Deasley clashed and after other players joined in and when the dust had settled referee Nick Walsh chose to book Deasley and Peterhead’s McAllister, who did not appear to have taken part in the incident.
Just short of the hour mark Montrose created a good opportunity when they were awarded a free kick centrally after Deasley was tripped by Gilfillan. With Watson hovering over the ball it was Ricky McIntosh who stepped up to curl an effort around the post and wide of the target.
Peterhead kept up the pressure and a great pass from McAllister saw him find strike partner Andy Rodgers but he could only shoot straight at McKenzie.
The home side made a double switch in the 65th minute when they brought on Jamie Reid and Terry Masson in place of wide men David Gray and Scott Johnston.
Three minutes later, despite looking to be in an offside position, McAllister was allowed to continue his run only to send a 25 yard volley wide of goal.
Peterhead made a change of their own in the 74th minute with ex-Montrose player Andy Rodgers being replaced by another, Fraser McLaren.
McAllister was fouled some 35 yards out but saw his free kick tipped around the post by McKenzie, in fine form in the home goal.
Montrose boss Stuart Garden made his final change in the 82nd minute bringing on Lewis Bonar in place of Graham Webster as he pushed three into attack.
A minute later there was controversy as Peterhead grabbed a third goal.
McAllister broke on the left and smacked in a shot from 25 yards out which bounced off the underside of the bar and back into play.
No visiting players claim for a goal but assistant referee Duncan Smith, who did not appear to be up with play, signalled to referee Walsh that the ball had crossed the line.
It seemed a harsh decision but despite the home protests the goal stood.
Stephen McNally took his protests too far and was yellow carded by the referee for dissent.
Peterhead made a second change two minutes later when the impressive McAllister was replaced by Ryan McCann.
With three minutes remaining Montrose had a chance when Garry Wood turned inside the area and shot straight at keeper Graeme Smith.
Montrose did pull back a second goal in the 90th minute when Terry Masson received a Reid pass on the edge of the area after a good move and his quick turn flat footed the Peterhead defence and he drilled an excellent shot which fizzed past Smith on its way into the net.
Try as they might, Montrose just couldn’t carve out another opportunity and the three points were heading back North to the Blue Toon.
The final piece of action came three minutes into stoppage time when Jordan Brown came on for Bryan Gilfillan.
Peterhead – Smith, Sharp, Noble, Ross, Strachan, Cowie, Rodgers (McLaren), Redman, McAllister (McCann), Gilfillan (Brown);
Unused - Tully, Jarvie;
Referee - Nick Walsh
Crowd - 424