St. Duthus got their pre-season underway in spirited fashion today with a closely fought win over North Caley returnees Alness United - ending a 196 day wait for an organised game of football.
Playing at Culcairn Park in Evanton, second half goals from substitutes Jake Lockett and James Skinner made it a comeback to remember as Saints cancelled out a 1-0 half-time deficit to win the game 4-3.
There was a first time appearance for new signing James MacKay in the first eleven, while returning signings Barry Kenny and Glenn Fell also started the game.
An evenly contested first half saw both sides start in lively fashion, both coming close to opening the scoring in the early stages.
A first half penalty award for a foul on Jude Fraser on 26 minutes handed Gordon Finlayson the opportunity to put Alness 1-0 up. In doing so, the midfielder found the target but John Allan parried the shot, only for Finlayson to knock home the rebound. It proved to be the only goal of the first half.
Saints equalised ten minutes into the second period through substitute Jake Lockett. Good work down the left from Glenn Fell led to a ball across the face of goal and Lockett pounced on the chance to finish well.
After some persistent pressing, St. Duthus took the lead. A composed Jon Campbell floated the ball over the defence and into the path of Lockett and the Saints forward peeled away to chest the ball down and slot home, putting his side 2-1 up with 63 minutes on the clock.
The lead was short lived though as Callum Gow netted for the visitors to level the score just a minute later. Following a spell of Alness pressure, Finlayson was on target again to edge the hosts back in front, finding the top corner with a good finish.
A fiercely contested final ten minutes saw Saints showed great resilience to turn the game on its head -- and it was new signing James Skinner who grabbed the goals, marking his senior football comeback with a quickfire double.
The midfield man first drew Saints level on 83 minutes, connecting with a long pass from Lewis Ross before lifting the ball over Jodie Campbell to find the inside of the net.
Skinner wrapped up the win for Saints with a minute of normal time remaining with a headed finish to find the far corner, rounding off an excellent second half for Saints.
Post-match comments from manager Stuart Ross:
Starting - I Mackenzie, Sutherland, Clark, B Morrison, E Murray, Munro, Finlayson, Gow, McFee, R Murray, Fraser
Subs - J Campbell, D Murray, Williamson, Henderson, Michael, R Morrison, Gilliland, Stewart, Lamont
Officials - Maccormack, Mckernie, Regan, C Mackenzie
Starting - J Allan, W Ross, Fell, JW Skinner, Kenny, Campbell, MacKay, Mackintosh, Rostock, As-Chainey, Tokely
Subs - Martin, Carson, Stainke, J Skinner, Geegan, Beaton, Lockett, L Ross
Officials - S Ross, A Ross, Christie
Referee - David Ross