For the first time in several weeks Manager Neil Findlay was able to have a full complement of 16 players on the team sheet for this important McBookie Superleague fixture against bottom of the table FC Stoneywood.
Long term injured duo Darren Reid and Taylor Christie will still be out for a few weeks, with Murray Buchan and Mark Gilmour still unavailable due to work commitments.
Earlier in the season Saints played FC Stoneywood in a Grill League Cup tie and came away with a decisive 5-1 victory, but it was evident from the start that the visitors had improved since then. In the early stages they had the better of the game but it was Saints who took the lead after 13 minutes when the Stoneywood left back sliced the ball into his own net when attempting to clear.
Both sides had half chances before the visitors equalised on 23 minutes when the tricky number seven cut in from the right evading two challenges, squared the ball across the six yard box for the ball to rebound off Josh Robertson then hit keeper Nico Berton on the chest and fall over the goal line.
Banchory pushed forward towards the end of the first half and won a corner a minute into injury time that was cleared by Stoneywood and from the break another move down the right resulted in a penalty that was hotly contested but the referee pointed to the spot and ex Saints player Allan Ogston stepped up to dispatch low past Berton.
An enforced change was made for the start of the second half with Ryan Whelan being replaced by Stuart Rogie. Saints were on top right away and levelled the match when a high through ball was cleverly back headed by Jack Henderson over the stranded keeper bouncing over the line before the defender could reach the ball.
Minutes later an almost certain goal for Stoneywood was cleared off the line by Josh Robertson and soon after Riain Findlay’s 25 yard low shot hit the keeper’s legs with the ball rebounding off Josh Robertson for what seemed a third goal but the Stoneywood keeper managed to claw the ball away for a corner when he was lying on the ground.
Mike Bruce who was back after a few weeks out injured, replaced Riain Findlay mid-way through the half. Both sides were very much capable of getting the winner and it was one of those games where the next goal was certainly going to be the winner, and so it was proved with 8 minutes remaining. A Sam Smith corner failed to be cleared and with the ball bouncing around the six yard box Darryn Pyper pounced to hammer the ball through a ruck of players into the net.
Team: Nico Berton, Steve Travers, John Smith, Jack Mitchell, Josh Robertson, Darren Pyper, Sam Smith, Riain Findlay (Mike Bruce), Devin Colbert, Jack Henderson, Ryan Whelan (Stuart Rogie). Subs: James Flaherty, Hamish Tubby, Jamie Buglass.
This Saturday Saints travel to Banff to take on Deveronside in a Superleague fixture, kick off 1.30pm.