Arbroath will face up to Montrose for the third time in six weeks with another game to come as the William Hill Scottish Cup second round match at Gayfield ended all square.
Arbroath welcomed back manager Allan Moore to the dugout but were without on-loan Dundee starlet Dylan Carreiro, who had been called up to join the Canadian national team. Perhaps it was captain Kevin Nicoll’s absence due to work commitments that would be more telling as has been the key to Arbroath’s recent league success in moving from midfield to defence.
The heavy rain which had soaked Arbroath all day stopped prior to kick-off and as both teams took to the field the sun actually broke from beyond the grey clouds to warm the large 902 supporters in attendance.
Arbroath kicked off the game shooting towards the Harbour end. Montrose threatened early from a corner kick, however, Arbroath soon found the back of the net to take the lead.
Craig Johnstone found Simon Murray in space on the right wing and after controlling the ball he took on Graham in the Montrose box before shooting across goal only for his shot to beat McKenzie but bounce off the far post back into play, but Paul McManus was ready to pounce and he poked home from six yards to give Arbroath the lead in seven minute.
The goal changed the play but in favour of Montrose, who started to pass the ball around better, and although McManus almost took advantage of a slack back pass, it was Montrose who fought their way back into the game.
Ross McCord took a free-kick on the wing and as the ball curled in towards goal it was hard to tell if anyone actually got a touch, but Garry Wood claimed he got a touch as he ran away to celebrate in the 15th minute.
Arbroath took the lead again in the 24th minute when Johnstone and Keiran Stewart combined passes from a throw before Stewart found Adam Hunter, who was unmarked, and after a quick glance towards goal he pulled the trigger from almost 30 yards out and his shot flew past McKenzie.
Arbroath edged possession in the remainder of the first half, with Bobby Linn again and again finding space to shoot but unable to find the back of the net, but you can sense that in the very near future once he gets one he could get several.
Arbroath had the better of possession but everytime Montrose had a set piece they looked dangerous with well-worked player movements before and after the ball was played causing Arbroath problems in how to mark each player and also in a positional sense in terms of getting to the ball first.
Half time: Arbroath 2, Montrose 1.
If it had been a boxing match the first half was definitely a win for Arbroath, but in the second half Arbroath seemed flat compared to recent weeks and it was Montrose who definitely had the better of the play.
Murray again caused Montrose all sorts of problems and his best chance came in the 55th minute when he fired in from the left but McKenzie pushed it away for a corner kick.
It was a case of déjà vu for Arbroath as Montrose drew level for the second time in the game. Another free-kick from the same position as the first half was whipped into the Arbroath box, this time by ex Lichtie Paul Watson and again the ball somehow evaded everyone and zipped into the net past Crawford.
Each team did have a series of corners and chances but it seemed like no team wanted it that little bit more – and unlike the normal powder keg this derby game never really erupted into life on and off the pitch.