Monaco Part Four – Match Report
This was originally posted on the Stjohnstone.com website… copied from Archive.org
|16th September ’99 – Magnifcent Monaco 3 Magnificent Main 0|
Saints: Main, Weir, Bollan, Griffin, O’Halloran, O’Neil , McAnespie, McQuillan, Kane, Simao, MessiahStepping into the Louis II stadium, it was hard to believe that I was there to watch a team which only a few years earlier had been playing at such venues as Boghead and the Stadio de Stair Park. Yet, here they were, playing against a team packed with internationals, assembled at huge expense and boasting France’s highest paid player in the form on keeper and bald bloke Fabian Barttez. However, it was his opposite number who stole the show with an incredible display of goalkeeping – Main Magnificent indeed!
The chance to see Saintees against the worlds best had gripped the imagination of the Saints faithful, with around 1000 Saints fans filling their corner of the magnificent stadium to such effect that fans were left sitting on the steps. Songs heard from the Saints end throughout the 90 minutes and beyond included “Your only tax dodging b*stards,” “In your Monaco slums…” and “Happy Birthday dear Roddy…” as the Saintees drowned out the Monte Carlo drums.
Saints were without midfielder Nick Dasovic who had succumbed to flu overnight, which meant that O’Neil moved to a central position with McAnespie and Simao playing on the wings, and O’Halloran joining Kano in a five man midfield, while Thomas ploughed the lone burrow to great effect.
Monaco set out to get the early goal to settle them down, and had it not been for a sensational display from Scotlands Best keeper then it would have been Au Revoir after just five minutes. The first was diving to his left to deny Guily a goal from long range, beating the ball away for a corner, before he made a superb double save beating out a Gallardo header before saving from Trezeguet on the rebound. Saints could barely get out of their half, and it took till the 30th minute for Saints to record an attempt at goal, although shot rolled wide. It was enough to bring a huge cheer from the Saints faithful though. Main continued his form with saves from Da Costa and Guily, while the former looped a header over the bar. At the other end Danny hit a free kick into the wall, while on the stroke of half time a McAnespie cross was headed behind with Thomas waiting at the back post and Barttez stranded. When the half time whistle went, unbelievably Saints were still on par with AS Monaco.
Just minutes after half time Miguel Simao could have made himself a Saints Legend for evermore, when O’Neil, O’Halloran, Thomas combined to leave the Portuguese striker through on goal. Miggy cut inside the defender and moved onto his left foot but could only see his strike brilliantly saved by Barttez.
Main was still in form though, beating out a Gallardo free kick, as Monaco stepped up their efforts to score. Bollan powered a header over the bar, before Simaone….sorry Simone had an effort ruled out for offside after Riise had hit the post. The goal was coming though, with Saints defending on the 18 yard box. Simao cleared from his own corner flag, but only as far as Riise who picked out the white haired Simone who coolly fired past a helpless Alan Main. That was it for Saints, with Trezeguet knocking home from close range four minutes later, and in the last minute the tie was over when Simone collected a pass from Guily to finished the tie. It didn’t damped Saintees spirits though, with the fans continuing the almost non-stop singing deep into the night.There is no doubt over the MOTM – Mr A Main, who has surely proved he is an international class goalie, with even the local Monaco paper picking him as MOTM, and when you consider the class on show, that is one hell of an achievement. The other brilliant performance came from John O’Neil, who despite playing well out of position in the center, still managed to show considerable class, and surely enhance his Scotland prospects – then again, he’s not 33 and hasn’t played for Rangers or Celtic.
Everyone will have their own special memory of the trip, and the atmosphere before and after the match was superb – on par with that of Vaasa, while the atmosphere at the game was just incredible. I said it after Vaasa and I’ll say it again – if you missed it, you’ve just missed one hell of a party! All Saints, in the sun, on the beach, holding a cold beer, signing off……