Saints crash out

Banchory were seconds away from a place in the quarter final of the GA Engineering Inter Region Cup, but the Tayside team snatched an injury time equaliser before going on to win the tie on penalties.

Manager Sandy Carrol had selection problems with injuries and suspensions and had to play centre forward Richard Stainer at centre half and brought back long absentee Alan Forbes to sit on the bench.

Saints had the early pressure, and it paid off when Josh Robertson crossed from the left for Connor SCULLY to hook volley an inch perfect shot over the Broughty keeper into the top corner of the net for an excellent start.

Almost immediately Broughty could have equalised but the square ball was eventually saved by Grant Sim after a goalmouth scramble.

As things hotted up there were a few late tackles flying in from the visitors, clearly showing that they were not amused at being one down.

A Broughty free kick on 18 minutes resulted in a point blank header being excellently tipped round the post by Sim but the linesman had his flag up for offside anyway.

As Broughty pushed for an equaliser Stainer stopped, claiming for offside, and Saints were fortunate that the centre forward shot wide of the mark.

On 25 minutes a Scott Garrett break resulted in a corner from which Shaun Carrol volleyed just past the post and then Garrett volleyed past from a Scully cross.

Neither keeper was being overworked despite the open play and Sim was thankful to see an overhead kick go just wide from the visitors.

Garrett was inches away from meeting the ball at the back post but the ball just flew inches over his head on 38 minutes and then at the other end a glancing header went just past Sim’s post again.

Banchory forced the pace at the start of the second half with a Scully shot being well held at the near post and then a Campbell Watt run and cross almost found Garrett at the back post but a defender nipped in to clear. Moments later Garrett hit the side netting with an angled shot from a fine pass by Jake Strachan.

Strachan then got in on the act when his run and net bound shot was tipped over the bar by the opposition keeper.

It looked as if Saints would increase their lead, but back came Broughty with a spell of pressure with 25 minutes remaining.

A free kick from the half way line caused panic in the Saints box and three shots were blocked by Saints defenders before the ball was cleared.

Two minutes later the home defence were again under pressure but again managed to block the goalbound attempts.

But it was a goalkeeping error that handed Broughty the equaliser on 70 minutes.

A throughball found the big number ten and with Sim running off his line for a ball that he would never get, the Broughty striker lobbed the Banchory custodian from 15 yards.

Back came Saints though and a Strachan run and shot went just a foot over the bar.

With eleven minutes remaining SCULLY scored his second when he was on the end of a perfect Carrol pass to slide the ball past the advancing Broughty keeper to put Saints 2-1 up.

The injured Campbell Watt had to be replaced by Kevin Robertson and then on 82 minutes and injury forced stand-in centre half Stainer to be replaced by Cammy Gray.

Straight away Gray combined well with Scully but the latter lost control in a good position.

It was Banchory who were looking the more likely to increase their lead as Broughty pressed forward looking for the equaliser, and Scully had another chance but he sliced well wide of the target.

And then right on time and with Saints moving out of defence Garret was caught offside a foot into the Broughty half and from the free kick the ball was pumped into the box and after one attempt was blocked the second was blasted into the net from close range for the equaliser.

The game went straight to penalties and probably because of the manner in which victory was snatched from their grasp, Banchory’s penalties were pretty weak with three being saved by the Broughty keeper. Chris Donald was the only scorer after the visitors scored with their first three.

However, this was good performance by Banchory and there was a definite improvement from the last couple of games.

Over the piece a draw was perhaps a fair result but it was the manner in which the late equaliser was lost that made the eventual loss on penalties even more hard to take.

Back to league business for Saints with two away games in succession. First this week (3rd March) to Lewis United at Aberdeen Sports Village followed by a a long trip to Forres Thistle on 10th March. Both kick off at 2pm.

Saints: Grant Sim, Darren Pyper, Josh Robertson, Chris Donald, Richard Stainer (Cammy Gray), Jake Strachan, Shaun Carrol, Alan McRae, Scott Garrett, Connor Scully, Campbell Watt (Kevin Robertson). Unused sub: Alan Forbes