Johnshaven played their final match of 2013 up in Echt and it really did turn out to be very much a day of mixed emotions.
While they came away with a point after snatching an equaliser in the last minute of the match, they lost one of their key players to a horrific injury that will certainly keep him out for the remainder of the season.
Echt showed their true class as a footballing team in the early stages of the game as a good mix of pace and power helped to dominate Johner. They took the lead within five minutes after some great interplay between their strikers let one of them in on goal and he rounded keeper Findlater to stroke the ball into the empty net. 1-0
Their pacey right winger was causing all sorts of problems for Johner and they were fortunate to not find themselves two goals down after a cross found an Echt played in the box but his header went narrowly wide.
It took Johner until the 25th minute to register a shot. Some good skill from Smith found T. Dalgarno on the edge of the box, but his kick was comfortably saved by the home keeper.
Johner were beginning to get themselves into the game as they upped their tempo after a sluggish start. They got a deserved equaliser after 35 minutes when Beedie fed Jack Rodger and the pacey winger cut inside and his left-footed effort crept inside the post. 1-1.
Johner nearly took the lead just before half time when J. Dalgarno found Paton but after a terrific first touch the away played could only blast his effort over the bar.
On the hour mark, a Paton corner found Gibbon in acres of space but the powerful striker could only head his effort wide.
Johner made their first change of the match when Towns replaced T. Dalgarno in the 65th minute. Paton had a shot from the edge of the box narrowly go wide after 70 minutes. With just having two named subs on the bench, Johnshaven made their final change after 74 minutes when Bruce replaced Rodger.
Just a minute later, Gibbon and an Echt defender were battling for the ball and the former’s ankle appeared to get caught in the ground and twisted around. The match was immediately halted as both teams’ first aiders ran onto the pitch to help out. With an ambulance being phoned and with the player able to be stretchered off the match was then re started after a 10 minute delay.
Johnshaven now found themselves down to 10 men and reshuffled things to a more negative approach as they knew they would be bombarded for the remainder of a match that Echt would have felt they needed to win.
Keeper Findlater pulled off a couple of stunning saves in one on one situations to keep the scores level but in the fourth minute of injury time Echt finally got a lead after a shot was saved by the keeper and their striker was on hand for the rebound. 2-1.
With all hope appearingly lost from a neutral’s point of view it was Johnshaven’s ‘‘never say die’’ attitude which shone through in the 103rd and final minute of the match, after winning a corner kick.
Manager Williams screamed for everyone to get into the box, including 6’’4 goalkeeper Findlater. Paton’s corner initially looked too deep but all of a sudden the ball began to dip. The huge frame of Kieran Findlater leapt higher than any goalkeeper before him has leapt before, as he appeared to be actually floating at one stage. In what appeared to be an eternity the ball finally made contact with his glorious forehead and the ball bulleted into the back of the net to send not only the players but the travelling support and officials on the touchlines into sheer raptures of delight 2-2.
The referee blew for full time straight after Echt restarted the match.
In what was a fitting tribute to the injured player, Echt officials voted Jharone Gibbon as their man of the match. A scan later that day revealed the striker had in fact broken his lower tbia and shattered his ligaments into his foot. He has spent the best part of a week in hospital and still been unable to get the operation he requires as there is still too much swelling.
A very popular lad in Montrose, having previously played in the Welfare league and for Merpro, he has received many get well messages from everyone, whom he wishes to thank. The club would also like to thank Echt Football Club for their professionalism and help on the day and their genuine concern they showed in following up to find out how he was.
Team: Kieran Findlater, Jack Dalgarno, Steven Smith, Ross Blease, Steven Scott, Scott Beedie, Jack Rodger (Kevin Bruce), Nayland MacLaren, Jharone Gibbon, Tom Dalgarno (Daniel Towns) & Lee Paton