Scorers: Montrose - Watson (40), Johnston (74, 90+1), Callaghan (90+2); Stranraer - Fleming (65 og)

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MONTROSE produced a late flurry to deny Stranraer a share of the points at Links Park.

With Paul Watson's strike separating the sides at the break, Cameron Elliott saw his effort turned into the net by home keeper Allan Fleming, but three goals in the closing stages ended the Blues' hopes of a result.

Elliott had been recalled to the starting lineup along with Joao Victoria, who scored in the defeat to East Fife two weeks earlier.

With seven players injured, Stevie Farrell called up three players from the club's South of Scotland League squad, as Dean Fyfe made his first appearance from the bench.

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Both sides were restricted to half chances in the early going, with Ryan Stevenson and Joao Victoria leading the Blues' early forays into the opposition half.

Max Currie had to be alert to tip a header over from lofty Montrose frontman Russell McLean, formerly of Peterhead and Forfar.

From the resulting corner, Stranraer cleared their lines and Connor McManus found enough space in the Montrose defence to shoot, lifting a curling strike just over.

Chances presented themselves at either end as the game opened up, but the home side would be first to seize an opportunity.

McLean used his stature to great effect, heading down into the artificial turf for Watson to lash home the opening goal.

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To their credit, Stranraer responded well after the break.

Adam Cummins' header within ten minutes of the restart wasn't far away, before Stevenson was unlucky to see his top corner strike turned over by a very good stop from Fleming.

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However, the Blues would finally force a little bit of luck to get themselves back on level terms.

After another good save from Currie at the feet of McLean, Elliott made a driving run from wide.

This time, the Montrose keeper could only parry the forward's angled strike into his net for an own goal.

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With the scores level, Stranraer would come within inches of taking the lead as McManus looked to round off a sweeping left-to-right move with the perfect finish, but dragged his shot agonisingly wide.

Just a few minutes later, Montrose would take the lead once more.

Substitute Craig Johnston had only been on the field for a matter of minutes, but he was sharp enough to hammer home on the rebound after several attempts from Stranraer to clear their lines.

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Stevenson almost replied immediately, the experienced striker's looping header brilliantly turned away on the goal line by the outstretched hand of Fleming.

And with the Blues chasing a late leveller, a double blow in stoppage time from Johnston and fellow substitute Liam Callaghan put some gloss on the result for Montrose.

The sides will have to do it all again at Stair Park on Tuesday night, as Stranraer play the first of three consecutive home games.

Stranraer: Currie, Hamill, Robertson, Cummins, Allan, Stirling (Fyfe 80), McManus, Stevenson, Thomson, Elliott, Victoria.
Not used: Burgess, Wilde, McIntyre, Dunn.

Opposition: Fleming, Ballantyne, Allan, Quinn, Steeves, Masson, Watson, Milne (Ballantyne 68), Webster, McLean (Callaghan 78), Lyons (Johnston 68).
Not used: Lennox, Hawke, I Campbell, R Campbell.

Referee: Chris Graham
Attendance: 528
HT: 1-0

Photos: Stranraer FC