A DEPLETED St Duthus XI were outgunned by Brora Rangers' U20s tonight in their last home friendly of the pre-season. Despite a promising start from the Tain men, Brora took the lead eight minutes shy of the break before a late goal ultimately killed off any hope of a Saints comeback.
A makeshift squad of fourteen was named for the game, following a number of late call offs and several absences due to work commitments and summer holidays. Liam Mcleod was recalled to the side following injury, while player coach Paul Cowie also took up a place on the bench.
The Saints actually started well and just five minutes into the game, Cameron Yuill was forced into action for Brora when he had to palm a Joe Sutherland shot to safety, all after good work from Liam Mcleod to play the wing back in on goal. From the resultant corner, Cammy Mackintosh was unlucky not to hit the target when he headed just over the bar following great delivery from Craig Ross. A minute later at the other end, Kevin Cairns headed just over the bar for Brora.
The visitors offered an early warning of their threat on eight minutes when Cammy Sutherland rattled the crossbar with a shot from the right wing, a good twenty yards from goal. But the Saints were still on the ascendency, and it was through the tireless work of Ross on the right side again which created problems for the Cattachs. A through ball to Mcleod eventually found Trialist, but the tall midfield man could only screw his resultant shot wide of Yuill's right hand post.
With twenty minutes gone, a good ball from Ross into the box was cleared into the path of Cammy Mackintosh who curled an effort towards the top corner, but Yuill was able to tip the ball away to safety. Mackintosh tested Yuill again moments later with a longer range effort, following a good ball down the middle from Adam MacDonald, but again the stopper was on hand to save. Marksman Scott Miller came close with a header a minute later when he came out the victor in an aerial challenge six yards from goal, however his effort sailed just over.
It seemed inevitable that in lieu of a reward for their opening pressure the Saints would eventually pay the price and they did just that on 37 minutes. Running at the St Duthus back line, good attacking play down the byline led to a ball being played across the face of goal and beyond Steven Martin at the near post. The ball eventually reached the waiting Louis Webster who lashed into an open net at the far post from six yards out to give his side the lead.
Two minutes before half time, Martin had to be on his toes to produce an excellent save one-on-one with promising youngster Robbie Allan. A moment later a header from Brora's Ben Campbell flew just over the bar.
Martin had to pick up where he left off in the early stages of the second period, once again called into action to produce a one on one save just inside the six yard box.
The Saints were looking to get back into the game and Trialist once again shot from distance into the clutches of Yuill five minutes after the restart. A series of goalmouth stramashes followed, beginning with a Ken Morrison clip into the box which seemed to do everything other than cross the line, as the ball was scrambled to safety.
Craig Ross remained the Saints' most potent threat and a mazy run after the hour mark looked like it would result in an equaliser, but sound defending kept Yuill's goal under safety.
An offside call kept the score at 1-0 after Brora appeared to have the ball in the met, but the flag of assistant referee Gary McCarthy saw the effort chalked off.
Goalmouth action was limited during the latter stages of a disjointed and scrappy second half, until a calamitous second goal for Brora put the game to bed. Collecting a long ball which sailed just over a static Saints defence, James Griffiths shook off his man before volleying home from an angle to make it 2-0.
A bad day at the office came to an end for the Saints with no added time.