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This was probably one of the worst performances witnessed for some time at Milton Park. Two early goals and a total capitulation in the second half made it grim watching for the home support. There was no time in this game when we looked like scoring, with ability to pass and control almost non-existent.
Captain Josh Robertson was not fit so Ryan Whelan partnered Jack Mitchell in the heart of the defence, otherwise it was the same team that started the game against Hermes the previous week.
The calamities started after on 4 minutes when a dreadful mix up between Jack Mitchel and keeper Nico Berton at the edge of the box, presented Hall Russell with an easy chance to open the scoring. Two minutes later it was 2-0 to the visitors when a speculative high through ball was latched onto by the number 9 who slid the ball past the onrushing Berton.
A Jack Presly shot was deflected for a corner after 15 minutes which was about Saints only real effort in the first half. Another big punt down the park caused more havoc in the Saints defence with Jack Mitchell coming to the rescue by clearing off the line.
On the half hour, the Halls centre forced Berton to block his angled shot when a third goal looked on the cards. At this point Saints were lacking concentration and composure, giving the ball away as soon as they won it.
Into the second half and within three minutes another terrible pass out of defence fell at Halls Whitfield’s feet and his curling shot had to be pushed round the post by Berton. At this point we were camped in our own half and struggling.
On 50 minutes the injured Kieran Davidson was replaced by Grant Munro. A chance for saints to pull one back when a begging when Presly’s free kick was missed by everyone in the 6 yard box.
On 61 minutes it was 3-0 when a move down the left and cross to the right found the striker in loads of space to knock the ball in and first time the ball into the net. Two minutes later it was 4-0 when Taylor Christie needlessly fouled inside the box with the penalty hammered into the roof of the Saints net.
Presly and Christie were replaced by Mike Bruce and Callum Wilson at this point but this did not stem the tide as Halls produced flowing move that ended with a volleyed strike to make it 5-0 with 20 minutes still to play.
Embarrassing as this was it was even more so on 73 minutes when a pass back saw Berton attempt to clear only to completely miss the ball and could only watch in despair as the ball trickled across the line.
Thankfully that was the end of the scoring as the changes made with Bruce and Wilson coming on, did spark some effort resulting a series of four corners in quick succession.
No player was exempt from such an inept performance. There was not one player you could say could come away with any pass marks on a day that everyone was off form. So there will have to be a big improvement next week when we travel to North Ayrshire to take on Kilbirnie Ladeside in the Scottish Junior Cup 1st Round.
Team: Nico Berton, Kieran Davidson (Grant Munro), Craig Simpson, Jack Mitchell, Ryan Whelan, Steve Travers, Tylor Christie (Callum Wilson), Jack Presly (Mike Bruce), Jamie Buglass, Seamus Croll, Sam Smith. Subs: Conran Wilson, Andrew Shepherd.
Both teams were pointless at the bottom of the Superleague, so something had to change regardless of the result. Hermes had beaten Saints 4-0 four weeks previously in the GA Cup 1st Round, so they were the favourites to get some points on the board.
Hermes were on top right from the start and went ahead on 12 minutes when ex Saints player Andrew Close half hit a shot which keeper Nico Berton could only palm over his head and into the corner of the net.
Not the best of starts, but despite the home side having the better of the game, Saints grew in confidence. The home goal was rarely tested but a couple of efforts did go close but did not bother keeper Sweeney.
Despite having the better of the first half Hermes could not find another goal to increase their lead.
It was evident from the start of the second half that a half time Manager’s talk had done something to pep up the players. A back post corner was headed into the side netting by Presly.
Then a series of substitution made all the difference for Saints. Steve Travers was replaced by Conran Wilson followed minutes later by Ryan Whelan coming on for Taylor Christie.
And within ten minutes the scores were level when Jamie Buglass won the ball on half way and sent in a slide rule pass to Seamus Croll who beat two defenders and the keeper to side foot the ball into the net for the equaliser on 22 minutes.
A few minutes later a Hermes forward made a late challenge on keeper Nico Berton as he gathered the ball and although a booking was perhaps deserved, the referee showed him the red card.
Hermes down to ten men but they missed a glorious chance when Close missed an open goal with his header from 6 yards. The game was getting rather fractious now as the home side began to lose their patience and self-control. A second yellow card for Courage meant he also had an early bath, reducing the home side to nine men with 10 minutes remaining.
Presly who had already been booked was replaced by Mike Bruce just in case. This two extra men left plenty of space for Saints and on 39 minutes Bruce was sent clear with only Sweeney to beat and as he rounded the home keeper he was brought down, with Craig Simpson scoring from the penalty spot.
Despite the numerical advantage, Saints were not taking full advantage and continued to give Hermes opportunities to move forward with some erratic passing. It should have been 3-1 two minutes into injury time when Sam Smith was straight through on Sweeney but his weak shot was easily saved.
That was the last of the chances as another three minutes elapsed before the final whistle. A well-deserved three points for Saints after the second half display certainly surprised Hermes which neither their players or touch line could accept at the final whistle.
This win must give the boys confidence now in preparation for the next two games in September, the second of which is the Scottish Junior Cup 1st Round tie away to Kilbirnie Ladeside on 24 September.
Team: Nico Berton, Kieran Davidson, Craig Simpson, Jack Mitchell, Josh Robertson, Steve Travers (Conran Wilson), Taylor Christie (Ryan Whelan), Jack Presly (Mike Bruce), Jamie Buglass, Seamus Croll, Sam Smith. Subs: Darren Reid, Andrew Shepherd.
After two league defeats, this was a game that saints needed to win to get some points on the board, but a rather inept display particularly in defending corners on the day, gifted the Inverurie outfit the win they deserved.
Colony took the lead with 15 minutes gone, but three minutes later the scores were level. A free kick was floated in and with Mike Bruce flicking the ball on Jack Presly half volleyed the ball into the net, however the referee blew for a penalty adjudging Bruce to have been fouled. Up stepped Craig Simpson who blasted the spot kick into the Colony net.
But parity did not last long as a near post header from a Colony corner found the back of the net. Three minutes later it was 3-1 to Colony when a bad clearance was taken advantage of.
With two minutes of the first half remaining Presly reduced the leeway to make it 3-2 for Colony at half time.
The second half started well for saints but just as we were getting on top, poor defending from a corner once again made it 4-2.
Despite throwing on all three substitutes no headway could be made and Saints suffered their third league defeat on the trot.
Team: Nico Berton, Conran Wilson, Craig Simpson, Jack Mitchell, Josh Robertson, Steve Travers, Mike Bruce, Riain Findlay (Jamie Buglass) (Craig Peter), Seamus Croll (Cameron Buchan), Jack Presly, Callum Wilson.
Subs: Taylor Christie, Andrew Shepherd
Dyce were the opponents for our second McBookie.com Superleague fixture of the season. Dyce were favourites to take the three points, which they did, but all agreed that a draw was perhaps a fair result overall.
Only two minutes in and a long Dyce throw in caused problems with the resultant shot well over the Saints bar. A very late tackle by the Dyce No. 9 on Darren Reid resulted in the right back being replaced by Conran Wilson. The big centre was indeed fortunate to receive only a yellow card, in comparison with the tackle that our own Kieran Davidson was red carded for the previous week.
Craig Simpson had a half chance on 10 minutes but elected to beat his man instead of shooting on site, and two minutes later a ferocious dipping shot from Mike Bruce rattled the Dyce bar. But as often happens, Dyce went up the park from that escape, to score the opener when Taylor Christie was too easily beaten up the left and from the cut back a half hit shot bounced over the diving Nico Berton.
But back came Saints and three minutes later the scores were level. Jack Mitchell made a forcing run down the left, passed to Jack Presly and his cross was deflected into his own net by Dyce’s Magnus Barclay. A nice favour from the ex Saints player.
Saints were giving as good as they got and Greig Mackie’s turn and shot went well over followed by Seamus Croll’s effort being deflected for a corner. And from a Saints move in 35 minutes, the Dyce keeper’s long kick out was latched onto by the No.9 and despite the attentions of Conran Wilson, he tucked the ball under the advancing Berton.
Dyce controlled the final 10 minutes of the first half with Nico making a good save at the feet of the centre, but it was Jack Presly who had the last say when his 20 yard effort went a foot over the Dyce bar.
The second half was only two minutes old when Dyce blocked Conran Wilson found Darren Pyper with a slick pass but Pyper’s effort was blocked at close range. It was a better start to this half than the one just ended, but too may passes were beginning to go astray at this stage.
Time for a change, with young Craig Peter coming on for Taylor Christie. And he was right in the action within four minutes when a free kick eluded the substitute at the back post. Mike Bruce evaded a couple of Dyce tackles with his resultant shot being saved by the keeper’s legs.
At the other end Nico had to be alert when he saved well at his near post and just as Dyce started to look dangerous another substitution was made with Stuart Rogie replacing Greig Mackie on 73 minutes.
A long range Pyper free kick went through the Dyce wall but straight at the keeper and as Saints remained on top, the home side were beginning to get rattled. A Presly free kick was then deflected for a corner from which Bruce headed over.
The Saints pressure continued and with five minutes remaining, from a Simpson corner Croll’s powerful header went a foot wide, but at the other end it was a similar move with Dyce going close.
It looked as though young Craig Peter had got the equaliser when a Conran Wilson shot was deflected and with the ball landing at peter’s feet he struck a lovely angled shot that appeared to be going in, only for the Dyce keeper to save with his legs at the near post.
The last chance was gone and we were definitely unfortunate to lose this match against a side that are supposed to be one of the favoured teams to challenge Banks O’Dee for the title.
Next week is another McBookie.com Superleague match with newly promoted Colony Park visiting Milton Park, kick off 2.00pm.
Team: Nico Berton, Darren Reid (Conran Wilson), Craig Simpson, Jack Mitchell, Josh Robertson, Darren Pyper, Greig Mackie (Stuart Rogie), Jack Presly, Seamus Croll, Mike Bruce, Taylor Christie (Craig Peter). Subs: Matthew Law