AHEAD of the Saints’ second annual Sportsman’s Dinner, all eyes were on a victory to ensure that the evening commenced in convivial fashion — and the boys did the club proud, recording an impressive 4-1 win over Bunillidh Thistle.
Free kicks and corners were the order of the day in the early going, and the dangerous delivery of Craig Ross was causing problems for the Bunillidh defence. On six minutes, Lewis Ross was unlucky when he fired over the bar, and just moments later Kenneth Morrison also missed the target with a header from a long ball into the box.
With a quarter hour gone, Bunillidh looked all at sea as Jon Campbell advanced toward goal, and after Lewis Ross received the ball in space, the Helmsdale side nearly forced the ball into their own net with a wild clearance that flew just past the post.
Finn As-Chainey was unlucky not to hit the target with a header at the far post from a Craig Ross corner with twenty minutes gone, and at the other end, Paul Gordon fired over from the edge of the box as the visitors began to come back into the game.
But it was only to be a matter of time before St Duthus took the lead — and it arrived thanks to a superb strike from captain Jon Campbell, who rifled the ball through a packed area leaving David Smith helpless to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted just two minutes unfortunately. On the counter, Bunillidh broke clear and after forcing a good save from Stephen Campbell, they netted at the second time of asking, Kevin McKinnon lashing the ball into the net. With parity restored, the game took a back and forth turn and chances fell for both sides.
As-Chainey was left with his head in his hands seven minutes before half time when he connected with a well timed Cammy Mackintosh ball. Needing just the finest of touches, there were cries of “Goal!” as the ball trickled just wide.
Just before the break, the Saints restored their advantage. A well timed through ball from Jon Campbell found Scott Miller through on goal, and spotting Ken Morrison in space the striker cut the ball back in the six yard box. Taking a deflection, the ball spun over Morrison’s head, but he reacted quickly to turn and force the ball beyond Smith to make it 2-1.
Half time: St Duthus 2 Bunillidh Thistle 1
The second half unquestionably belonged to St Duthus, who enjoyed the majority of possession and the lion’s share of chances throughout.
On 55 minutes, a powerful free kick from Craig Ross just clipped the upright and flew wide after being hit from a good 25 yards out. The Saints pressure continued as a chance for Lewis Ross went just wide.
On the hour mark, in excellent space on the left wing, As-Chainey looked as though he might notch his seventh goal of the season when he lobbed Smith in the Bunillidh goal, but even with the Thistle custodian stranded, the winger’s cheeky effort just missed the target.
With thirteen minutes remaining, the visitors finally succumbed to the pressure. An excellent team move culminated in an As-Chainey ball into the box that was swept home by Cammy Mackintosh in style. At 3-1, the home side were now in cruise control.
As time ran out in the game, the Saints wrapped up their win with a fourth. Getting on the end of a corner, Ewan Ross scored his second in as many weeks with a well taken header following great delivery from Craig Ross.
Full time: St Duthus 4 Bunillidh Thistle 1
Stephen Campbell, Barry Kenny, Ewan Ross, Craig Ross, John Skinner (Rory Patience 53), Jon Campbell (Jamie Skinner 71), Ken Morrison (Ryan Patterson 51), Cammy Mackintosh, Scott Miller (Liam Rostock 62), Lewis Ross (Justin Rogers 61), Finn As-Chainey
David Smith, Reece Barton, Alisdair Macrae, Euan Sutherland, Dean Cowie (bkd 15) (Robert Flett 80), Robert MacDonald (bkd 69), Kevin MacKinnon (bkd 19) (Ben Campbell 65), Paul Gordon, Stephen McGhie (James Griffiths 80), Garrick Taylor, Ethan Bews
Referee: Scott Matthew
Assistants: David Cowie & Tommy Campbell