A COMMANDING 4-1 victory over Halkirk United on Saturday was enough for the Saints to end the winless run that has plagued the start of the 2018-19 season.
Just a handful of changes were made to the side who impressed against Thurso a fortnight ago. There was a place for Sam Beeston in the starting lineup coming in for the absent Iain Ross, while Liam Rostock replaced Lewis Ross up front. Messrs Jake Lockett and Scott Miller also returned to the squad taking places on the bench.
St Duthus got off to a great start when they scored after just 50 seconds. The goal came from a long Liam Rostock throw from the left which was collected well by Sam Beeston, who controlled the ball and drilled it into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.
The Saints pressure continued with a series of Paul Beaton corners and both Justin Rogers and Liam Rostock were unlucky not to score in the early going. On 15 minutes, Rory Patience hit a stunning left foot drive which forced Milligan into producing a fantastic save, tipping the ball just over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Rostock was unlucky again with an angle shot held by Milligan.
Gordon Swanson offered Halkirk's first test for Matheson on 20 minutes but the St Duthus custodian collected the 20 yard strike from the Anglers' centre half with ease. On 25 minutes, Sam Beeston did well down the right flank to set Justin Rogers free on goal, but after rounding the keeper, the Saints man's goalbound effort was incredibly diverted just over by the bar by right back Mathew Mackay.
St Duthus notched a second on the half hour mark and the reward came following a great team effort. Multiple passes eventually led to Cammy Mackintosh feeding Liam Rostock in the six yard box and the Saints forward man made no mistake with a finish from close range to open his account for the season.
Rostock should have doubled his contribution a couple of minutes later when he found himself in great space inside the six yard box, but Milligan blocked his shot. Just moments after, Rostock was twarted again, this time by the crossbar after he struck from close range getting on the end of a Beeston header.
A free kick late in the first half for a foul on Cammy Mackintosh was taken by the same player, but his effort was deflected wide.
Half time: St Duthus 2 Halkirk United 0
Five minutes into the second half, a looping Paul Beaton free kick found the head of Robbie Murray and the midfielder's directed effort looked like it was headed for the top corner were it not for the quick reactions of Milligan once again.
Halkirk though were beginning to step up as the half progressed and James Macintosh was unlucky not to score with an effort that flew low past the post on 55 minutes. The same player fired just over the bar moments later following a similar move. It was third time lucky for Macintosh on the hour when he was played in on goal for a simple finish low into the far corner to make it 2-1.
Two minutes later, Murray Mackintosh nearly notched an equaliser with a powerful effort on target, but Matheson was up to the task and held well. Saints wasted no time in restoring their two goal advantage though, scoring again just a minute later. Breaking clear, Justin Rogers finished well with the outside of his foot to beat Milligan was a low shot to make it 3-1.
Substitutes were introduced for St Duthus and within a few minutes the change paid dividends, as Jake Lockett broke down the right hand side to square the ball across goal and Scott Miller made no mistake with a composed finish to net his 20th goal for the club.
A Cammy Mackintosh through ball fell into the path of Miller again on 80 minutes but Milligan was not to the beaten at the second time of asking, his outstretched hands blocking the Saints striker's shot on goal.
Halkirk's Mathew Mackay curled a shot high towards goal for Halkirk with 5 minutes left on the clock but Matheson held the effort. At the other end, a quick one-two with Bartek Sosnowski sent Scott Miller through once again, but his shot flew low and wide of the far post.
A late corner nearly resulted in a goal for Halkirk as former Saint Louis Webster looked to capitalise on a loose ball, but Matheson recovered well to clear up the danger.
Full time: St Duthus 4 Halkirk United 1
Ali Matheson, Alan Geegan (Bartek Sosnowski 80), Paul Beaton (Calum Neil 75) (bkd 78), John Skinner (bkd 70), Charlie MacDonald, Robbie Murray, Rory Patience (Jake Lockett 53), Cammy Mackintosh, Justin Rogers (Scott Miller 65), Liam Rostock (Matty Shewan 71) (bkd 90), Sam Beeston
Sean Milligan, Mathew Mackay, Greg Mackay, Gordon Swanson, Stuart Sinclair, Alan Davis, Steven Sutherland (bkd 72) (Craig Kennedy 75), James Macintosh, Murray Mackintosh, Louis Webster, Murray Mackay
Subs not used: Connor Cook, Steven Hughes, Adam Gunn
Referee: Gavin Dearie
Assistants: Colin MacDonald and Malcolm Macleod
Man of the Match: Liam Rostock