Stunner for Saints

Saints manager Sandy Carrol said he was absolutely gutted after a last gasp goal saw strugglers Hall Russell United snatch a win against his side.

If ever there was a tale of two halves this certainly was the case.

Banchory totally dominated proceedings in the first half but a combination of some slack play, injuries and a couple of sending offs gifted second bottom Hall Russell all three points.

Banchory were on the front foot immediately applying early pressure. Connor Scully linked up with Campbell Watt but the latter’s effort was easily saved by the home keeper Simpson.

Scully was in action again when he was brought down 20 yards out but Hall’s defensive wall blocked the free kick.

On 10 minutes Richard Stainer set up Scully but the forward shot straight at Simpson.

Banchory were playing some good stuff but it was a mistake by Simpson whose poor kick almost gifted Stainer a goal, but the centre forward fluffed his first attempt and then shot well wide with his second.

Stainer then went close with a 25 yard free kick that went a foot over the bar on 25 minutes.

Hall Russell’s first real chance came a minute later when Shaw’s pace got him clear on the right with his attempt at goal missing the target and Stewart getting a chance to score at the back post but he could only hit the side netting.

That was a warning for Saints and they took advantage a minute later when Scott Burke’s long clearance found Scully who controlled the ball, turned and shot past Simpson for the opening goal.

It was all Banchory now and Scully should have scored again when a Chris Donald header across the six yard box was headed over the bar by the forward.

A few minutes later Simpson parried a Stainer shot and a goal seemed certain but Watt hit the bar from 8 yards.

However the second goal was not far away when on 36 minutes Darren Pyper set up Stainer to score from 10 yards.

Saints could only hold their two-goal advantage for a matter of minutes as Burke allowed Shaw to get past him and this time his square ball was hit home by Stewart from close range.

The second half started with Banchory again on the attack with Scully passing to Watt on the left and the winger’s perfect cross found no takers inside the 6 yard box.

Mark Galashan’s similar run down the left and subsequent cross almost resulted in an own goal.

On 50 minutes Pyper had to leave the field with a thigh strain and he was replaced by Cammy Gray.

Two corners in quick succession for the Saints ended with Stainer heading narrowly past. A quick Halls break down the right saw Innes hitting the side netting.

The referee mysteriously gave a free kick against Josh Robertson which came to nothing, but this for some reason seemed to turn things in favour of the home side.

The ever-dangerous Shaw was clear on goal but Irvine blocked his attempt and then Jake Strachan lost the ball in midfield to let Shaw in again only for Irvine to block once again at the expense of a corner.

There was some sloppy play by Banchory, and there was a worrying injury to keeper Irvine when he hurt his knee whilst taking a goal kick, but after treatment he managed to carry on. Watt also picked up a knock minutes later and was replaced by Kevin Robertson.

The home side began to take control with ex-Banchory player Gordon Milne dictating things in midfield.

A shot from 20 yards went a foot over Irvine’s bar and then on 75 minutes the home side equalised when Josh Robertson was too slow in delivering a pass whilst in attack and Halls burst forward with Gordon Milne setting up Shaw to score.

Panic had now set in Saints’ play and with seven minutes left, Chris Donald’s mistimed tackle at the edge of the box resulted in a straight red.

Saints did have a chance not long after when Stainer’s low cross across the six yard box found no-one.

On 87 minutes Irvine had to leave the field with his knee injury to be replaced by substitute keeper Grant Sim.

Hall Russell’s Anderson received a second yellow for a trip on Strachan and then the referee controversially thought that Burke’s high tackle warranted a red card instead of a yellow.

Down to nine men with one minute to go and the idea would be not to give away possession or silly fouls, but Gray needlessly fouled on the right touchline and from the free kick punted into the six yard box, home centre half Mitchell scored the winner, with only time left to take the kick off.

The St Ternan manager was furious that his side threw away the game after a strong first half performance.

Sandy Carrol said: “I’m gutted. The first half was by far the best football we have played since I have been involved at Banchory but again we lost a very poor goal to bring the game back to 2-1 and the chances we missed were unbelievable.

“The second half we created a few good chances but again no takers. The worrying thing for me was one or two of the players bottled it and that is not acceptable, it is something I am going to address very quickly.”

Saints: Chris Irvine (Grant Sim), Chris Donald, Josh Robertson, Scott Burke, Mark Galashan, Jake Strachan, Darren Pyper (Cammy Gray), Alan McRae, Richard Stainer, Connor Scully, Campbell Watt (Kevin Robertson). Subs: Scott Garrett, Adam Morrison.

This Saturday 18th February, Banchory travel to Dyce for a PMAC Superleage game, kick off 2.00pm.