St. Duthus 4 Alness United 2

The Geegan era continued with a win on Saturday, as Saints fought back from 2-1 down in the opening seven minutes of the game to record a solid victory on the back of a very good team performance.

There were four changes to the side who drew at Invergordon the week before. In came Jamie Skinner, Lewis Smith, Connor Smith and Daniel Christie, with Ben Bruce, Gary Millard and Barry Kenny missing out due to other commitments. Alan Geegan took a place on the dugout for this one, joined by fellow caretaker/manager Justin Rogers.

A disasterous start saw former Saints striker Dean Allison break the deadlock for the visitors inside the first minute. The opener came after some poor defending allowed him space to force the ball past Danny Gillan inside the six yard box.

Saints began pressing immediately afterwards though, and on 5 minutes they won a free kick on the edge of the box. From the resultant set piece, Jake Lockett, not known for being a dead ball specialist, stepped up with authority and curled the ball into the net with a stunning kick to make it 1-1.

Just three minutes later though, another quick counter attack caught Saints on the hop as Alness retook the lead. A quick ball over the defence found the onrushing Alexander Mackay and the Alness forward made no mistake with a composed finish into the far corner.

Gillan had to be on his toes to stop consecutive efforts from Dave Murray, first on the quarter hour mark from a free kick which he palmed wide of the post, and then minutes later gathering a shot from just outside the box.
 
At the other end, Saints were unlucky not to find a leveller when a Billy Cairns corner was cleared into the path of Daniel Christie who found enough space outside the box to hit a powerful shot on target. Bannerman in the Alness goal though, did well to tip the shot wide.

On 18 minutes, some great passing work on the edge of the Alness eighteen yard box allowed Lockett to advance inside the area, and turning onto his right foot he forced Bannerman to pull off a good save with a shot bound for the top corner.

Seven minutes later, St. Duthus had a claim for a penalty dismissed after it appeared that the ball had struck the outstretched arm of Murray inside the area after good work between Lockett and Finn As-Chainey.

Good kicking again from Danny Gillan found Ross Tokely for a flick on that played Billy Cairns in on goal, but the striker's goalbound effort flew over the bar.

The equaliser for Saints arrived on 35 minutes. A ball into the area from Cairns was played out wide to As-Chainey who combined with Jamie Skinner. Collecting the ball on the right hand side, Skinner did well to play Daniel Christie in on goal, who skipped past his man and slotted the ball past Bannerman to make it 2-2.

The visitors almost restored their lead straight away when a ball down the right for McFee found the striker and he crossed for Jude Fraser - but Fraser's connection with the ball at close range sent it over the bar when it should have been easier to score.

Saints completed the turnaround five minutes before the break with a first time shot from Ross Tokely on the edge of the eighteen yard box which gave Bannerman no chance, leaving the score at 3-2 in favour of St. Duthus come the half time interval.

Alness got the second half off to a dangerous start with Murray testing Gillan again, this time with a shot from close range that the Saints stopper had to tip over the bar.

But Saints continued as the aggressors, and on 50 minutes, Christie came close to doubling his tally after the ball broke to him from a corner kick, but his low effort was deflected just wide of the post.

Moments later, a low cross into the box from As-Chainey found Cairns who fit the ball first with a shot that went wide of the target. 

Alness remained a threat though, as was clear when Ryan Mcfee broke clear through the middle of the park before playing Allison in for a clear shot on goal. Gillan though, got down well and steered the ball back into plau before jumping well to collect a follow up cross while under pressure.

Man of the Match Christie came close to notching a second goal from a Jake Lockett corner on the hour mark, swiping at a first attempt before getting a second try that flew just past the upright.

Saints made sure of the win on 75 minutes with a second stunning free kick from Lockett. His persistence had won him the set piece after being held back on a sprint down the left wing, and from 25 yards he found the target beautifully with a looping shot that flew into the net at the far post. At 4-2 up, St. Duthus were now in firm control.

Former St. Duthus left back Mikey Rae nearly pulled one back for Alness with ten minutes to go after connecting with a corner, but twice asking, his chances were blocked and cleared to safety.

Lockett had another crack at a set piece on 85 minutes but this time chose to float it into the box, where substitute Daniel Hutchison and Ross Tokely had chances blocked.

A late chance for Adrian Voigt that would have made it five for Saints resulted in a save from Bannerman, with Lockett in close pursuit seeking the hat-trick.

Team:
Gillan, A Allan, C Smith, JW Skinner, L Smith (Ross 46), J Skinner (Voigt 69), Cairns (Hutchison 80), Christie, Lockett (bkd 73) (Geegan 90), Tokely, As-Chainey (Carson 88)

Referee: S McDade
Assistants: I Ross, D Ross

The Brewclan Man of the Match: Daniel Christie

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