A miserable second half undid a positive start from St. Duthus on Saturday, as they crashed to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Thurso in their opening league game of the new season.
With Ross Tokely and Craig Munro both missing, there was a midfield place for Stefan MacRitchie who made his first eleven debut for Saints. Mikey Rae also made his debut, taking up a place at left back in place of Andreas Broomfield who was ushered into a forward role. Ben Bruce failed a late fitness check, and recovering from injury, Scott Miller and Finn As-Chainey both took up places on the bench. Thurso played the game in the unlikely colours of sky blue and maroon, wearing a kit borrowed from amateurs Pentland United.
Some neat passing play saw St. Duthus dictate the pace in the early going. Setting out his stall for a man of the match performance, Jon Campbell was providing an early headache for Stevie Reid's men with bursting runs through midfield. The opener arrived on the quarter hour and it was thanks to one of those runs down the right that Saints took a deserved lead. Breaking clear of the Thurso back line, Campbell did very well to create space before finding the far corner with a superb finish from just inside the box.
It could have been 2-0 just minutes later were it not for some superb goalkeeping from Christie Cannop in the Vikings' goal. Collecting the ball on the edge the box, Andreas Broomfield's shot on the turn forced Cannop to display crisp reactions to tip the ball to safety.
Shortly after, Broomfield had his head in his hands with a low effort which cannoned off the upright.
Calamity followed for Saints just before the break when referee Eddie Nicoll awarded Thurso a penalty for a trip in the area. Making no mistake with a well taken spot kick, Michael Petrie levelled for his side as Saints were dealt the most unwelcome of half time blows.
From the restart, Saints struggled to get going and after some bluster from both teams for the opening quarter hour, Petrie struck again to give Thurso the lead. With a shot across the face of goal from the edge of the area, Stephen Campbell was left unsighted in the Saints goal as the ball cruised in at the far post.
Within just five minutes, Thurso had doubled their advantage to go ahead, this time Cameron Montgomery getting on the scoresheet with an almost carbon copy of Petrie's earlier strike.
St. Duthus left it late to get back into the game and a lifeline was struck on 90 minutes when Jon Campbell won a penalty for his side. Team captain Cammy Mackintosh then stepped up to score his third goal of the season to reduce the score to 2-3.
Alas, it was too little too late as Thurso held on for the win and the three points.
St. Duthus: S Campbell, A Allan (Geegan), Rae, Skinner, C MacDonald, MacRitchie (Murray), J Campbell, Mackintosh, Rostock (Miller), Lockett (As-Chainey), Broomfield (Beaton)
Thurso: Cannop, Munro, I MacIntosh, Manson, McLean, Bell (Con. Trueman), Montgomery, Petrie, Hale (C MacIntosh), Wilson, Morris
Referee: Eddie Nicoll