Sunday, 26 February 2017 22:17
An entertaining derby between Forfar Athletic and Montrose ended goalless as the Loons saw their League Two lead shortened yet again.
The Gable Endies were the better team over the 90 minutes and if anything, will have felt aggrieved not to claim all three points from their visit to Station Park.
With Arbroath thrashing Cowdenbeath, Gary Bollan's side are now just six points clear at the top of the league as their recent shaky form continued.
The visitors had the first shot on goal on seven minutes, left winger Ryan Ferguson taking the ball onto his right foot and curling a strike toward the top right corner, but Grant Adam got a good hand to the ball to deny Montrose the opener.
It was the Gable Endies who were enjoying more of the possession but they couldn't quite fashion a chance good enough to bother a frantic-looking Forfar defence.
There was some tidy work from Jamie Bain and Eoghan McCawl on the right wing on 20 minutes as the Forfar duo dragged Andy Steeves and Ryan Ferguson all over the place, before McCawl's heavy cross found Gavin Swankie at the back post but the skipper's header was too weak to trouble Jordan Millar.
A Forfar corner then handed Montrose a wonderful chance on the counter attack through Graham Webster: the winger burst downfield before driving a low shot to the far post that was inches wide of the target.
Gary Fraser had joined Webster on the break and the striker was well placed for a square pass opportunity which the winger didn't take. The Loons' back four looked very nervous every time Montrose came forward and it seemed like a goal for the visitors was on its way.
Forfar managed to put a good attack together on 33 minutes through Josh Peters, with Bain eventually finding Swankie whose shot from 23 yards was just over the bar.
It was all Gary Bollan's side from there but Millar didn't have to make a save until Swankie's deflected cross had the goalie at full stretch at his near post. A clever set piece on the right wing teed up Martyn Fotheringham for a long range strike, and his shot was deflected en route to Millar's goal with the keeer able to palm the ball out for a corner, which came to nothing.
Webster set up the last chance of the half in stoppage time, swinging a cross in from the left that was just too heavy for Fraser to get to.
It was a sluggish start to the second half for both teams and the first incident of note was on 53 minutes when Kieran McWalter had a decent effort on goal that went wide.
Bain had a rasping effort from 35 yards or so on 58 minutes and Millar really had to stretch to catch the ball as it dipped menacingly. A long ball forward from the Montrose midfield hung up in the wind and it eventually came to Fraser, but his wild shot was never bothering Adam's goal.
The visitors were looking the more likely side to take the lead with a sustained period of pressure, but there were no real chances despite the possession. Both managers opted to change shape mid-way through the second half, Gary Bollan sending Jim Lister on into a 4-3-3 while Stewart Petrie's introduction of Matty Smith saw Montrose move to 4-2-3-1.
Swankie forced a stunning reaction save from Millar on 73 minutes with a low drive from close range after collecting a whipped cross from the right flank, with the Loons unable to make the subsequent corner count.
A lovely backheel from ex-Forfar lad Kerr Hay released Cammy Ballantyne and Chris Templeman headed the full-back's cross just wide, though the towering target man really didn't connect properly.
Fotheringham looked for a trademark free kick goal on 86 minutes but his curled shot was well saved by Millar, who had enjoyed an impressive afternoon. Peters then headed over on 89 minutes from a corner kick in the last chance of the afternoon.
Match Report by Scott Binnie (Forfar Dispatch)