The festive Easter Ross derby meeting between Invergordon and St. Duthus went the way of the hosts after a frustrating game filled with missed opportunity and talking points. Just one goal seperated the sides as Saints finished the game with ten men.
Liam Rostock could have opened the scoring in the second minute of the match when he was presented with a chance at a tight angle, but his flashing shot across the face whizzed past the post. Almost immediately up the other end, Invergordon hit back with a chance of their own when Jordan Knight struck the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the six yard box.
It continued to run back and forth between both sides during a frenetic opening period until Saints were awarded a penalty kick on 10 minutes, for a foul on Jon Campbell. The midfielder was tripped as he cut inside the six yard box, and referee Molly Alexander made no mistake when she awarded the spot kick after bringing play back. From the resultant conversion though, top scorer Ben Bruce missed the target and sent the ball agonisingly wide of the post.
Invergordon tried to immediately capitalise when they broke up the park with purpose a minute later, and Darran Goller came very close with a shot which clipped the upright.
It took until the 67th minute for the deadlock to be broken and the goal came about in controversial circumstances. A Jordan Knight shot on goal was saved before Shaun Kerr tucked away the rebound amidst an offside call from the referee. The assistant referee, however, called the referee to attention and disputed her call and following a pitchside discussion the goal was awarded to Invergordon.
To make matters immediately worse, midfielder Craig Munro was sent off for Saints a minute later after picking up a second yellow card.
Chances to equalise were at a premium during the remainder of a difficult second half for Saints, but resolute defending from the experienced back pairing of Ross Tokely and John Skinner and solid goalkeeping from Danny McCarthy prevented anything further at the other end also.
In the final moments of the game, a wicked cross struck the underarm of John Skinner and Invergordon were handed a chance to extended their lead from the penalty spot. Saints stopper Danny McCarthy had other ideas though and he capped off an excellent afternoon in goal for his team with a top drawer save to keep out Invergordon captain Arron Christie from 12 yards.
The defeat levels things up on points between St. Duthus and Invergordon at the top of the North Caledonian League table, with Invergordon now boasting a game-in-hand advantage, which shall be made up on January 4th when Saints are "off-duty", instead playing Clachnacuddin U20s in a friendly match in Dingwall.