Accies 4 Montrose 0 08/12/01
Accies strolled into the third round of the cup with an emphatic victory against 3rd division opposition that was much easier than even that scoreline would suggest.
Accies manager Ally Dawson made just one change from the team that defeated Alloa the previous week. Sean Sweeney was restored to the heart of the defence, so he moved away from the flat back 4 approach to having three central defenders and two wing backs. The unlucky player to be rested was Ally Graham, who had done pretty well on the right wing. He was relegated to the bench, along with Kris O'Neil, David McFarlane, Allan Russell.
Accies started off at a cracking pace and David McNiven came close to opening the scoring on two occasions. The first was an amazing miss from inside the 6 yard box. Michael Moore gut up well at the back post and headed the ball towards McNiven, right in the middle of the goals. He prodded the ball towards the goal with his studs, but was stunned to see the ball bounce up and over the crossbar with Montrose 'keeper Gary McGlynn helpless. A couple of minutes later, he had an excellent low left foot shot that scraped the foot of the left hand post.
A goal had to come soon - and when it arrived in the 18th minute it was a beauty. Brian McPhee made space down the right and his fantastic cross was headed home powerfully by Stuart Callaghan.
In the 24th minute, David McNiven hit a brilliant inswinging cross from the right wing. Brian McPhee was at the near post to head it past the static McGlynn for No 2 and his first goal for the club. The first of many, I suspect.
Just two minutes later, Accies killed the game with goal No 3. This time Brian McPhee spotted David McNiven making a run towards the penalty area and thumped the ball high towards him from the half way line. The ball was judged to perfection and McNiven was able to nod it over the advancing McGlynn from just inside the penalty area. (Naturally, the Sunday Mail says it was from 25 yards!)
Accies nearly made it 4-0 before half time when another header from a corner hit the post and they generally gave the Montrose defence a hard time.
Naturally, the second half was a bit of a let down after the excitement of the first 45 minutes. Accies continued their total domination of the game and the Montrose goal led a charmed life.
Accies used the width of the park really well, particularly on the right, where Brian McPhee was outstanding. His enthusiasm and skill were a refreshing change from some of the lacklustre performances we've seen from Accies so far this season. Time after time the Montrose defence were torn apart and, with even an average amount of luck, Accies would have made the scoreline embarrassing.
David McFarlane replaced David McNiven after an hour and he came close to scoring his first goal of the season a couple of minutes later. Steven Renicks did well to get to a deep cross at the back post and his cut back beat McGlynn but somehow squeezed between McFarlane and the other post.
However, McFarlane was not to be denied for long. Just a couple of minutes later, he scored his 43rd Accies goal and his first since the demolition of Montrose in May. He gathered a fine cross from the right about 15 yards out and blasted it high past McGlynn on the half volley. I was lucky enough to be in the front row of the Spice Of Life stand, right behind the line of the shot, and it was a thing of power and beauty!
Accies came close to extending the scoreline but misunderstandings between the forward players meant that passes went astray. Kris O'Neil was really unlucky not to open his account when the ball broke to him at the touchline. He nutmegged McGlynn but his shot from a tight angle was kept out by a combination of the post and a Montrose defender on the line.
So that was it. Accies won at a canter and must be looking forward to the 3rd round draw. If only they could transfer this form into the league they would climb the table for sure.
It would be churlish to have any criticisms of Accies after this display. he defence were rarely troubled by the Montrose attack, with Sean Sweeney taking charge. Despite being the lucky recipient of the magnum of champagne for being the man of the match, I didn't think that Stuart Callaghan was Accies top man.
I would have certainly given that award to Brian McPhee. His skill, energy and enthusiasm were great to see and he was involved in most of the best football from Accies. And it was great to see David McFarlane finally get his first goal of the season - and what a goal it was.