A frustrating start to the 2021-22 season continued for St. Duthus as they fell to a late winner at Bonar Bridge on Saturday.
Ravaged with absence due to illness and work commitments, Saints called in a couple of trialists to boost the squad, while there was a return for Will Ross, playing his first competitive game in almost eighteen months at left back. Dan Hutchison and Kyle Mackenzie also returned to the squad, taking up bench positions.
Saints started brightly going uphill in the first half and with only a couple of minutes gone, Adrian Voigt was first to test Nat Valente in the Bonar Bridge goal with a shot from the edge of the box.
The in-form Jake Lockett nearly found the net for a second successive week after breaking down the left hand side but his shot fired across goal flew just wide of the post.
St. Duthus eventually broke the deadlock on 19 minutes when a Ben Bruce flick on found Finn As-Chainey through on goal, and the midfield man found the net with a clever lob over Valente to make it 1-0.
But the home side fired back just two minutes later, and it was former Saints youth player Archie Ryder who curled the ball directly into the net from a corner kick to level the scores.
It took Saints just five minutes to edge ahead again though, this time thanks to a penalty kick, awarded for a foul on Ben Bruce who was making his way along the byline. Making no mistake from 12 yards, Bruce netted his third goal of the season to make it 2-1.
The game took a distressing turn on 29 minutes when Bonar right back Fraser Heath fell very awkwardly, suffering what turned out to be a severely broken wrist. Paramedics were called and the game was halted for almost an hour as the player awaited treatment. The game eventually resumed at 3.15pm.
From the restart, Bonar appeared to have found another gear and they quickly put the Saints backline under pressure. From another corner, they equalised, this time through Adam Mackay, who nodded the ball over the line after it had cannoned off the crossbar.
Saints' efforts to retake the lead were unsuccessful in the remaining time of the first half, undone most notably by some agile goalkeeping from Valente who twisted in the air to prevent a Ben Bruce strike destined for the top corner.
During a frustrating second half Saints struggled to find the target against a Bonar side who were all digging in to protect the scoreline. Bruce remained Saints' biggest threat, heading into the arms of the keeper from a cross, and soon after forcing a good save with a shot that then flagged offside.
The best chance Saints had to reclaim the lead happened with ten minutes to go when substitute Kyle Mackenzie received the ball from Lockett before shuffling into space and firing towards goal from 6 yards - but Valente once again came to his side's rescue.
A bad day at the office soon turned into a nightmare for St. Duthus as Bonar snatched an 85th minute lead when Fraser Macleod, after turning inside and breaking into the area, curled the ball into the top corner beyond Ryan Renwick to make it 3-2.
A late flurry of attacks heralded no success for Saints as they tried to pull themselves back into it, but alas the points were lost and the grim result was added to the record books.