THE SAINTS' RETURN to Grant Park could not have gone better as they turned in a brilliant team performance to topple title contenders Alness United today and move up to fifth place in the North Caledonian League.
Will Ross returned to the starting eleven at right back while Sam Beeston dropped to the bench and Scott Miller replaced Jordan Mackinnon up top. There was a debut also for former Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County man Ross Tokely who has been training with the club since December.
To mark the opening game of the new year, local piper Daniel Murray from Bonar Bridge played the teams onto the park before kick off.
The signs were there early on that this was going to be the Saints' day with the Alness backline looking ropey. On 5 minutes a Paul Beaton free kick broke into the path of Ross Tokely who shot into the box and it appeared that the ball cannoned off the arm of an Alness defender, sparking cries for a penalty kick. Referee Stephen McDade however, waved play on.
Moments later, Michael Mckenzie was caught napping at centre half and Liam Rostock pounced on the loose ball, firing a curling shot towards goal to force a superb save from Jodie Campbell.
The home side broke the deadlock on eight minutes when Scott Miller shrugged off his man to race clear and beat Jodie Campbell with a well struck finish.
Miller was in the thick of the action again ten minutes later when Will Ross found him at the far post with a superbly timed cross, but the striker's headed effort flew over the bar.
That man Miller could have doubled Saints' advantage again soon after when he was played clean through on goal by Robbie Murray, but he agonisingly played his shot wide of the far post.
Half time: St Duthus 1 Alness United 0
Alness had a chance early on in the second period with a set piece 25 yards from goal but taker Craig Munro's floated free kick buzzed just past the post.
From a Paul Beaton corner on 55 minutes, Liam Rostock connected with authority to head into the box, and Scott Miller quick to react headed towards goal and just over the bar.
The goalmouth stramash to end them all took place on the hour mark in the Alness penalty area when a long Liam Rostock throw seemed to reach just about every Saints player on the field inside the six yard box, but (not for the want of trying) nobody could prod the ball past Campbell.
At the other end, Jack Hudson did well to turn and shoot from a Munro free kick on the 70 minute mark, but Matheson was more than up to the task holding the low effort with ease.
The second half culminated in jubilation for Saints when former Alness man Robbie Murray secured the points for the Tain men with a well taken goal inside the area after United had failed to deal with a clever ball into the box from Paul Beaton.
Full time: St Duthus 2 Alness United 0
Ali Matheson, Will Ross (Alan Geegan 73), Paul Beaton, John Skinner, Charlie Macdonald, Robbie Murray, Ross Tokely, Calum Neil (Jake Lockett 54), Cammy Mackintosh, Scott Miller (Jordan Mackinnon 67) (Martyn Farquhar 89), Liam Rostock (Sam Beeston 64)
Jodie Campbell (bkd 90), Callum Gow, Taylor Sutherland, Craig Munro (bkd 79), Michael Mckenzie (Daniel lowe 75), Jude Fraser (Miller Mackay 54), Mikey Grimes, Jack Hudson (bkd 63), Connor Ross, Gordon Finlayson (Jack Gilliland 20), Ryan Mcfee
Referee: Stephen McDade
Man of the Match (sponsored by Duthac Transport Hires):
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