Young Saints record first Highland League win

Report by Adam Borland

THE #YOUNGSAINTS got off the mark in their debut Highland Football League North Division campaign with a thrilling 4-3 home victory against a very solid and well drilled Lossiemouth U17’s side on Sunday.

St Duthus, playing only their second game in their new league since revival this summer, and having been beaten by Clachnacuddin last week were looking to assert themselves in the game early. However the lads couldn’t have got off to much worse of a start. Following on from a Saints kick-off, Lossie instantly broke, and after an intricate piece of play down the wing and a pinpoint cross, James BADENOCH had the visitors in front in about 46 seconds. The Saints, keen to not let this early setback get in the way, looked to retaliate in kind soon after the restart, but a threatening cross by Scott Taylor was well dealt with by Rian Wilson in the Lossiemouth goal.

A few minutes later, the visiting defence was tested again by a Saints free kick but sharp distribution by the Lossiemouth defence led to another chance for the visitors, who were visibly buoyed by their fast start. A break, tearing through the middle of the home defence put home ‘keeper Aneek Khan in bother in a one on one situation, but a brilliant save put the ball a few feet past his left hand post and out of the reach of Luke Falconer who was following up for the visitors. The resulting corner was well dealt with by Scott McIvor and Lossiemouth were pushed back to half way, however a fantastic pass, curling away from Khan and today’s captain Calum Robinson, found BADENOCH who slotted home his and Lossie’s second of the game, leaving the boys with a mountain to climb.

It almost got worse after the restart as Lossiemouth looked to put the game to bed early. A corner followed by a scramble on the six yard line left the small pocket of home support (who were well positioned and out of the rain) to collectively exhale when the ball was finally cleared by Robinson. The support would then get something to cheer about as following this clearance, a wonderful through ball by Kenny Patience found Taylor Anderson goal-side of his marker, and after his one on one effort was saved by Wilson in the Lossie goal, the rebound fell to Scott TAYLOR who, showing great composure under pressure, rounded three defenders and clinically slotted the ball under the onrushing goalkeeper to give the #YoungSaints their first goal of the season in the 16th minute.

This seemed to spur the lads on a bit, with the next ten minutes played almost solely in the Lossiemouth half as the Saints looked for, what had seemed after the opening minutes, an unlikely equaliser. Gordie Bryce, Kenny Patience and Scott Taylor were linking well down the right side, which at this point was the main channel of attack, and this led to half chances for both Keir Carson and Taylor Anderson. A slick one-two by Patience and Bryce gave Carson an opportunity twenty yards out. When his effort cannoned off a defender, it fell to Anderson whose snapshot deflected out for a throw in.

The visitors remained dangerous on the counter attack with all four members of the defensive unit being tested by through balls and neat play by Lossiemouth as they looked to reassert their early dominance. However clear cut chances for both sides were few and far between. Scott Taylor found the side netting for Saints amid passionate shouts for a goal kick as he rounded Callum Nairn of Lossiemouth very close to the byline and five minutes later, Taylor turned provider - having himself been fed by Carson after a neat piece of skill- setting up an opportunity for the debuting Vincent Davies, but his volley flew well wide and out for a goal kick. From this goal kick, Lossie’s captain Wilson found a teammate, however Davies’ partner in central midfield Aiden Stainke brought him down, leading to a free kick to Lossiemouth and a talking to for Stainke.

Two smart saves from Khan in the St Duthus goal in minutes thirty seven and eight denied Callum Kerrigan and Branford Edgar respectively as the game’s tide swung once again in favour of the visitors. Lossie passed the ball well, holding possession in midfield making it difficult for the Saints’ midfield trio of Davies, Stainke and Patience to gain control of the ball. However, when they did so, they did with good effect, instantly releasing Scott Taylor on the right hand side. Taylor was fouled on the edge of the box by Mikey Bond, who had been substituted on by Lossiemouth just a few minutes earlier, leaving Saints with an opportunity to test the Lossie rearguard from a set play. This chance was not taken however, as the commanding captain of the seasoned side claimed Michael Fraser’s free kick with several Saints close by. A scrappy few minutes followed with neither side playing their best football.

Consecutive defensive miscommunications first from St Duthus and then from Lossiemouth led to half chances for both, but the ‘keepers had little to worry about. Saints’ Scott Taylor and Keir Carson exchanged some neat passing with the former dragging his shot straight to the feet of Wilson in the away goal from distance. The first half ended as it started, with Lossie in the ascendancy. A free kick following an offside call against Anderson caused mayhem on the edge of the home box where any convincing connection by an attacker could have been problematic for the home side. The ball was eventually cleared by Robinson and Anderson hit a speculative first time volley towards goal as the ball came to him, but the away ‘keeper dealt with it well as the referee blew the whistle to conclude the first half, with Saints 2-1 down.

Half time: St Duthus 1 Lossiemouth 2

Lossie kicked off the second half and were it not for a fine one on one save from Khan in the home goal, would have started it as they started the first. At this point Saints reshuffled the pack, bringing on another debutant in Nathan Corbett for Gordie Bryce, with Corbett slotting into the midfield and Kenny Patience moving back into right-back. This was followed by the game suddenly opening up. A through ball intended for Taylor Anderson that was well defended by Harry McIntosh was the highlight for the Saints, in six or seven minutes that could only be described as end-to-end. Saints’ young ‘keeper made a fine stop following a sweeping move by the visitors which acted as a fine reminder that they were very much a force to be reckoned with. Khan’s distribution was then at the fore, finding Keir Carson, whose effort from distance flew wide and into the car park. However, Lossie weren’t done, with Saints’ Michael Fraser being caught on the wrong side of Luke Falconer, whose effort was gathered by Khan.

Two minutes later, the game was turned on its head. Slick passing and fantastic movement down the right hand side by Stainke, Patience, Carson and Corbett led to a cross that found the head of Scott Taylor, whose misdirected header fell perfectly to Taylor ANDERSON who volleyed into the bottom left corner on his weaker left foot from twenty yards. And the lads weren’t ready to relax either, Davies was fouled after a nice run, and the resultant free kick was taken by Carson who beat wall and goalkeeper, but saw his effort fly agonisingly wide of the target. Two minutes later, Davies was at the heart of a move that stunned the home dugout. His ball to Stainke was brilliantly redirected into the path of Scott Taylor who, in full flight, rounded his marker and fired a shot across Wilson in the Lossie goal. His parry could only find the head of Davies who had continued his run. Davies’ header fizzed back across the box to TAYLOR, who volleyed home in superb style from mid-air to put St Duthus 3-2 ahead with half an hour to play.

Saints perhaps rode their luck in the two minutes that followed and Lossiemouth will possibly feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty after Scott McIvor came out on top of a 50/50 in the penalty box. Shouts fell upon deaf ears though as the visitors looked to re-establish dominance having been stunned by the #YoungSaints. Khan was again Saints’ saviour as he was off his line quickly to collect a through ball and he looked to turn provider setting Scott Taylor off down the left in a move that led to a corner after Taylor himself had a shot well saved. From the resulting corner, Fraser’s ball into the box flew over the heads of all at the front post including both Scott McIvor and Scott Taylor and fell to Nathan Corbett who must have thought he’d secured a debut goal, but his volley was unbelievably saved by a diving Wilson from point blank range.

Then the game swung again, this time in favour of Lossiemouth. Falconer hit the side netting in a one on one that came from nowhere, with the defence being caught sleeping. Then came the chance of the match. Falconer once again was played through, this time by Kiegis Henderson who was earlier brought on by the visitors. Having rounded Khan, the entirety of the ground thought he’d scored, but moving away from goal at the acutest of angles, he was very unlucky to hit the post from no more than two feet. Falconer would have his reprieve ninety seconds later, playing a lovely ball between Fraser and Patience to his strike partner Branford EDGAR who slotted past a despairing Khan to equalise. This equilibrium only lasted for three minutes. As Nathan Corbett was closed down in the middle of the park, he pulled off a fantastic piece of skill to leave three defenders in his wake. He then played a perfectly weighted pass through to Taylor ANDERSON who cut back onto his right foot and lobbed the ball exquisitely into the top right corner of the net over the advancing ‘keeper to restore the Saints’ lead at 4-3.

Lossie almost instantly retaliated. Dangerous as ever on the break, the visitors played in Edgar, whose effort was blocked by a sliding Aiden Stainke. With ten minutes plus stoppage time to play, Finn Macleod came off the bench to replace Vincent Davies and was involved in a move that broke down following a well defended Lossie free kick. Lossiemouth kept on coming though and once again it fell to Khan to make a save from Mikey Bond. Good work from Nathan Corbett in the middle of the park led to a half chance for himself, but Lossie countered effectively and once again could have scored when Khan slipped when attempting to retrieve a through ball, however the effort went only a few inches past the far post from a difficult angle. Lossiemouth continued their onslaught on the Saints’ goal with a few shots flying wide of the target. A counter by St Duthus forced a good save from the Lossie captain, but the ball came straight back into the Saints half.

Luke Falconer, playing up front for the visitors then went into the book due to a foul on Robinson while trying to retrieve a pass from a teammate. The home side, looking for time, fired the free kick into the corner and earned another after another foul on Robinson. In the third minute of injury time Lossie looked to release a ball up their left, but Khan was out fantastically to clear the ball out for a Lossiemouth throw, taking a knock in the process, causing a delay in the game. After Khan was treated, a melee on the edge of the box ensued as both sides frantically tried to control the throw in.

The ball finally dribbled out of play and, much to the relief of the tens of home supporters, for a goal kick. Finally, after 96 minutes and a fantastic game the final whistle was blown, the #YoungSaints running out 4-3 winners.

Full time: St Duthus 4 Lossiemouth 3

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