THE SAINTS’ annual trip to Orkney on league business ended in a narrow defeat today, as the Orcadians’ slim first half advantage was enough to give them all three points in a tough and well contested game.
The Saints were without namesakes Craig, Ewan and Lewis Ross, who were all posted absent from the cup final squad who played two weeks ago, alongside midfielder Barry Kenny. Coming into the squad were Louis Webster, Paul Cowie, Joe Sutherland and trialist Bartek Sosnowski.
Orkney were the early aggressors and after nine minutes they brought Steven Martin into action when Sam Hunter tested the Saints stopper with a shot down the middle of goal from the edge of the box. Three minutes later, a long free kick met Chris Hellewell in the area, but the Islanders forward volleyed just over.
A minute later, the home side opened the scoring. Persistence from Joe Wilson down the byline led to a ball across the face of goal and waiting in the six yard box was Thorfinn Stout to net his 22nd goal of the season. Stout could have doubled his contribution straight from the restart but a brave block from Martin denied the Orkney striker’s effort from four yards.
On twenty minutes, Orkney made it 2-0. Wilson was on hand again with the assist, firing toward goal with a dangerous free kick which Martin saved to his bottom right, Kyle Drever was first to the ball which he slotted home.
The Saints gradually came back into the game, shaking off their bad start and just after the hour mark, a bad challenge on Jon Campbell earned them a free kick, which Justin Rogers fired toward goal before being diverted wide.
Five minutes later, Cammy Mackintosh was unlucky not to test Kevin Mackenzie in the Orkney goal with a clever lob after doing well to hold off his man, but the shot sailed just over.
With two minutes of the first half remaining, the Saints pulled a goal back. Capping off a brilliant solo effort, Jon Campbell beat three defenders as he carried the ball into the box before releasing a stinging strike which flew past Mackenzie into the bottom corner.
As time ran out of the first half, St Duthus were presented with a golden opportunity to restore parity before the break. Breaking clear, Jon Campbell fed the ball to Liam Rostock to play the striker in on goal, but Mackenzie was quick to react and Rostock’s first time chance was blocked.
Half time: Orkney 2 St Duthus 1
The second half was tightly contested in its infancy and some tasty challenges were being exchanged. The first notable chance arrived for Rory Patience who fired a long free kick over the bar.
At the other end, Hellewell for Orkney forced Martin into action again with a shot on goal with his last action of the game, before being replaced by Mark Berry, at the same time as Louis Webster’s introduction for Liam Rostock.
Scott Miller was unlucky not to do better with a chance on 65 minutes when he fired over from inside the area after Finn As-Chainey had looped a ball into his path.
With a quarter hour remaining, Ken
Morrison headed into the arms of Mackenzie when he connected with a long free kick. Tempers flared moments later after Jon Campbell was felled once again, with the altercation resulting in a drop ball.
It looked as though player coach Paul Cowie might have to make an appearance when Steven Martin was left sprawling on the ground after stopping a sliding shot from Berry, but the St Duthus netsman was able to carry on, albeit labouring an injured knee.
Great delivery from Ryan Patterson presented Saints with a couple of chances from set pieces as time began to run out, but Orkney were resolute in defence. On the counter attack, Orkney were looking to extend their lead and on 83 minutes, Martin had to be alert to a Stout chance after the frontman turned and shot inside a busy area.
Martin capped off a man of the match performance with another superb save in injury time after Stout had broken clear on the counter, turning the striker’s shot away for a corner.
Full time: Orkney 2 St Duthus 1
Kevin Mackenzie, Owen Rendall (bkd 72), Connan Rendall (bkd 23), Erik Bews, Kyle Drever (bkd 28), Aiden Drever (Jack Paterson 60), Joe Wilson (Stevie Cunningham 67), Sam Hunter, Chris Hellewell (Mark Berry 60), Thorfinn Stout (bkd 73), Liam Delday
Subs not used: Scott Drever, Craig Drever
Steven Martin, Joe Sutherland, Rory Patience, Ken Morrison, John Skinner, Jon Campbell (bkd 24), Liam Rostock (Louis Webster 60) Cammy Mackintosh, Scott Miller (Jamie Skinner 82), Justin Rogers (Trialist 82), Finn As-Chainey (Ryan Patterson 70)
Sub not used: Paul Cowie
Referee: Gavin K. Leask
Assistants: Ivan Leslie and Steven Stott