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St Duthus made it back to back wins on Saturday, thanks to a dominant performance in Ardersier over hosts Inverness Athletic.
There were few changes to the side who defeated Alness a fortnight ago. Welcomed back into the side was John Allan in goal, while Adam Allan missed out due to illness and Connor Smith also unavailable. This made way for the returns of Gary Millard and Ben Bruce in the starting eleven.
Billy Cairns could have opened the scoring after just two minutes for Saints when he was presented with a glorious chance inside the six yard box after good work from Gary Millard to get the ball into the area, but Ryan Macleod got a hand to the striker's first time volley.
St Duthus took the lead three minutes later goal and it came from a moment of opportunism as Ben Bruce closed down the last man and dispossessed him before rounding the keeper and slotting home.
It was 2-0 after 14 minutes and Millard was involved once again, placing a beautiful cross into the box for Jake Lockett to head home his sixth goal of the season to make it 2-0.
Inverness weren't completely out of it yet, and were unlucky not to pull a goal back with a speculative effort from Kieran Duffty which hit the crossbar on 20 minutes.
Ben Bruce was giving the defence plenty to think about as the half continued, and came close to adding to his tally on a couple of occasions were it not for some hounding defensive work from Athletic.
It was 3-0 on 29 minutes and it was Lockett again who applied the finish to a neat passing move, ending with Finn As-Chainey squaring the ball to Saints no. 14.
Ross Tokely was unlucky with a hooked effort moments later after Daniel Christie had swung a lovely free kick into the box, the ball flying just wide of the far post as Macleod could only watch in relief.
Inverness pulled a goal back on 35 minutes thanks to a long throw which was met by Luke Mackay, the striker turning quickly inside the box to find the bottom corner of the net.Saints had several chances to put the game to bed as the first half closed out, Tokely coming the closest with a shot from angle and Finn As-Chainey also testing Macleod.
The search for a fourth goal continued in the second period and Bruce was first to come close with a shot over the bar after a clever turn on the edge of the box.At the other end, Johnny Allan had to produce a good save from a Dom Macaulay shot to prevent a goal that would have given Athletic a possible road back into the game.
Lockett was showing great determination to secure his first hat-trick in Saints colours, and was denied a glorious opportunity after Bruce played him in on goal but Macleod got down well to save and deny the striker.
Moments later Lockett came close again with a dipping shot over the bar before coming close with a diving header into the arms of Macleod. At the same moment there were appeals for a penalty kick as Bruce, turning inside the box, appeared to have been felled by an Inverness defender.
Lockett looked sure to notch his third on 70 minutes after good play once again from Bruce to lay the ball on a plate for the striker, but Macleod, Athletic's standout of the day, once again produced a tremendous save.
The elusive fourth goal continued to elude Saints as substitute Adrian Voigt got in on the action, excruciatingly managing to hit the upright after Macleod had deflected a Bruce shot across his open goal.
Victory was eventually sealed on 86 minutes when Bruce broke clear and laid the ball to Daniel Christie who made no mistake with a brilliant finish to score his third goal in as many appearances.The win lifts Saints into the top half of the Macleod & MacCallum North Caledonian League table for the first time this season, with a big game now facing them next week against Orkney, who sit just ahead of them on 12 points.
Inverness Ath Starting XI
Inverness Ath Substitutes
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