Mar 17 2010 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Albion Rovers players v. Montrose.
ALBION ROVERS 1
PERFORMANCES win plaudits but points mean prizes.
Those seven words should be etched into the minds of all those at the sharp end in football at this stage of the season.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty in March and April, everyone, from the club director to the season ticket holder, is singing from the same hymn sheet.
All that matters are results. There are no marks for style and pats on the back are a poor substitute if you fail to achieve the targets set.
If winning ugly is what it takes sometimes, then so be it.
At Cliftonhill on Saturday, Albion Rovers won with the overalls on. Pretty play came second to actually getting the job done.
Steven McKeown’s winner ensured an eighth league win of the season for the Coatbridge part-timers who have taken ten points from a possible 12 recently.
In seeing off rock-bottom Montrose for the first time this term, Paul Martin’s troops closed the gap on the play-off zone to four points and know they are in ideal position to come up on the rails with a late surge.
But it was all too much for Steven Tweed, the Gable Endies gaffer, who took the shine off Rovers’ win with his latest post-match outburst.
The former Hibernian defender, not for the first time, got stuck into the home side and was quoted accusing them of adopting an “anti-football attitude”.
Such comments riled his counterpart who has attempted to put together a side that plays the game in the right way.
They also smack of sour grapes and you can bet Tweed would take a bit of “winning ugly” if it meant improving on an embarrassing statistic of just two victories in 25 league games.
Still, what should we expect from the gaffer in charge of a team rooted to the foot of the SFL? Anything that deflects the gaze away from Montrose’s lowly position will be considered an employable tactic.
“I just hit the ball and hoped for the best,” was the modest, under-stated verdict of goal hero McKeown on his first strike of the season when the dust settled.
“It has been a long time coming and the lack of goals in my game is something I have been disappointed about.
“I felt it was a scrappy game and one mistake or a bit of quality was always going to win it. The main thing was just getting the three points.
“We are on a brilliant wee run and now is a good time to be hitting a bit of form but we are just trying to concentrate on winning the next game.
“Our most important game of the season seems to be the next one we play and it would be good to take something when we go to East Stirling.”
McKeown found himself watching last Tuesday night’s win over Berwick from the main stand and he admitted he was determined to do well when he received the call to arms at the weekend.
He added: “The manager showed a lot of faith by putting me in central midfield and that gave me an added edge.
“We know there will be times when some of us have to sit it out and it’s something we understand. The gaffer wants to use all of the squad.
“But there is good spirit and a good feeling among the boys and we are all focused on getting into that top four.”
Boss Martin was thrilled with a third win in four games as his side maintained their assault on the play-off zone.
“I thought we were brilliant,” he said. “We fought like tigers and the players did as we asked them.
“Everybody could see how important the goal was to the team. At times you have to dig out results and that’s what we did.
“We had more possession than them and more chances. We talked about getting the ball forward quicker and taking advantage of a strong wind in the second half.”
The target set last month has not altered for the manager with the goal of achieving nine victories still in place – his side need another seven.
“We have to just focus our energies on that figure and not look at the league table,” he added.
“Points in the bag are the most important thing. Games in hand mean nothing.”
And with that message, Rovers head to Ochilview and a date with East Stirling. The matches continue to be difficult, but no-one said reaching the play-offs would be easy.
Advertiser man of the match (3pts) - Steven McKeown. Great shift and terrific goal. Michael McGowan (2pts), Marc McCusker (1pt).
Moment of the match: McKeown’s goal thrilled the Rovers faithful.
Albion Rovers: Ewings; Reid, O’Byrne, Lumsden, McGowan; Thomson, Tyrrell, McKeown, Boyle (Gilmartin 87); McCusker (McLaughlin 85), McFarlane (McLeod 66). Subs not used: Ferry, Bannantyne(gk).
Montrose: McNeil, McNally, Campbell, Crighton, Tweed, Hegarty, Milligan (Gemmell 80), Davidson, Sinclair, Tosh, Tomana (Nicol 73). Subs not used: Boyle, Pressley, Coutts(gk).
Referee: George Salmond.