This season has been a mixed bag for Banchory St.Ternan, in what is their 23rd season in Junior football and the eighth in the top flight Superleague.
Apart from a resounding 5-1 victory against FC Stoneywood in the Grill League Cup, the opening three league games produced no points at all with a humiliating 9-0 loss at Banks O’Dee which triggered the resignation of Manager Sandy Carrol and all his backroom staff.
The appointment of a new management team headed by manager Neil Findlay with coaches Graeme Davidson and Paul Law brought new life into the players and also additional players from the Amateur ranks.
Although it took a couple of weeks, results began to turn around with the club moving off the bottom of the League. The catalyst was the league game at Dufftown where an injury time winner from Devin Colbert gave Saints their first three league points. Statistically more goals are being scored and less conceded since the change, and the management team have instilled in the players a new belief and confidence in addition to a new style of play.
The players have a different attitude now, renewed confidence which in turn brings enjoyment in what they are doing and they now expect to win every game. This was quite obvious with a series of games against neighbours Culter. A rather harsh 4-1 Regional Cup defeat was followed by a thrilling 4-4 league draw after being 4-2 down with 10 minutes to play. Two months later on December 12, a scintillating display gave Saints their biggest ever win against Culter, with a 6-0 thrashing in the GA Inter Region Cup.
That 6-0 win put Saints into the last 16 of the GA Cup, where Dundee side Lochee Harp will be the next opponents in Dundee on Saturday, February 20. Although Lochee Harp will prove difficult opposition, it gives Saints a good chance to progress to the Quarter Final, something that has not been achieved since 2005 when Montrose Roselea were 1-0 victors.
To progress in Cups is always good, but the priority for the second half of the league season is to move away from the relegation zone and climb out of the bottom four.
January 30 will see Saints travel to bottom placed FC Stoneywood and two weeks later Deveronside, one place below Saints, travel to Milton Park, so victory is essential in both fixtures.
Manager Neil Findlay has been unlucky with injuries since taking over. Long term absentees have been: Taylor Christie (knee) sustained in the Aberdeen University match on 10th October. Ryain Findlay also knee injury out since October. Hamish Tubby groin strain at Deveronside 21st November. However, Darren Reid has been out the longest with a bad ankle injury that came from a hefty tackle near the end of the game against Hall Russell United on 12th September. All players are now back training and will hopefully be available over the course of the next few weeks.
Neil is quietly pleased and confident with the progress to date and had this to say about the challenge ahead.
He said: “I would like to think if a report card was made out on the performances to date it would read ‘Team and players improving every week’, however there is still room to progress in the second half of the season.
“Our goal is to maintain a position in the Superleague which we know is still a big task, but hope that we can take what we have learned so far and make it work.
“I would like to thank all the players, committee and not by any means least the support we have received since taking over. The players appreciate the crowds that are now coming to home. games and even away ones, which is building great morale in the team camp.”