A BAD day at the office ended in a 3-0 defeat yesterday as St Duthus fell short against hosts Thurso in their penultimate North Caledonian League match of the season.
With multiple absences to contend with, first team starts were handed to Sam Beeston and Justin Rogers for the first time this year while Calum Neil was also recalled from the bench for the first time since January. Debutant U17 candidates Keir Carson, Nathan Corbett and Aidan Stainke were also welcomed onto the bench - the first graduates of St Duthus' youth set up to participate in a North Caledonian League matchday.
There were no chances of note in the opening quarter as the game looked like it had nil-nil written all over it. Saints were dealt a blow just before the half hour mark when Scott Miller was forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury and Jordan Mackinnon was introduced in his place.
Just moments later, Roddy Innes opened the scoring for the home side to make it 1-0 and hand Thurso a first half advantage. A long ball into the box looked like a simple one for Saints keeper Ali Matheson to collect, but a push on the stopper went unpunished by referee Graham John and Innes collected a squared ball to easily roll it into the empty net.
Any chance of a second half fightback was killed off within a minute when Innes Mackintosh doubled Thurso's lead. Hitting Saints on the counter, a ball from deep sailed into the box for Mackintosh who volleyed beyond Matheson to make no mistake.
St Duthus eventually clicked into gear, albeit too late in the day, and Liam Rostock came close on the hour mark with a header at the back post, his effort deflected clear. Moments later, Justin Rogers took aim but his volley wouldn't dip in time and sailed just over the bar as the Saints saw the back of their best spell of the game.
The Vikings should have put the game to bed in the latter stages were it not for some good defending from John Skinner and a stop from Matheson, but the final moments did afford the visitors the opportunity to introduce all three of their U17 prospects from the bench late in the second half.
Nathan Corbett got right into the mix of things with a volley from the edge of the eighteen yard box and Aiden Stainke was also showing up well on the wing, showing some nice touches. Towards the end of the game, Keir Carson was unlucky not to score with a header at the far post but his effort just skimmed the crossbar on its way over.
Benn Murray netted in the final minute for Thurso, prodding home a finish from close range to make it 3-0 - but his celebrations were short lived as he was red carded just after following a second yellow card.
James More, Martin Sutherland, Sean Stewart (Connor MacIntosh 81), Benn Murray (bkd 61) (red 90), Shaun Forbes, Conor Trueman (Scott Bell 51), Conor Cormack (Lewis McKechnie 85), Michael Petrie, Roddy Innes (Nigel Mackenzie 75), Kuba Koziol (David Hale 85), Innes Mackintosh
Ali Matheson, Alan Geegan (Iain Macrae 85), Paul Beaton, John Skinner, Sam Beeston, Justin Rogers, Robbie Murray, Calum Neil (Nathan Corbett 80), Scott Miller (Jordan Mackinnon 30), Liam Rostock (Aiden Stainke 80), Jake Lockett (bkd 70) (Keir Carson 80)
Referee: Graham John
Assistants: Graham Elder & Paul Reid
Photo credit: James Gunn