Banchory St.Ternan 1 v 1 Ellon United
Banchory had to draft in two of their young players to bolster their playing squad for this McBookie.com Superleague match. Young goalkeeper Riley Cooper and midfielder Paul Ross both took their place on the bench as Liam Cheyne, Dean Henderson, Grant Munro, Aaron Thomson, Ben Ross and Ryan Whelan were all unavailable.
Ellon, who had lost their opening two league fixtures, started strongly and within two minutes almost took the lead but Banchory keeper Ross Salmon spread himself well to block the net bound shot. Two minutes later, Greg Smith’s run down the left ended with the left back’s effort coming off the post with Mike Bruce missing an easy chance.
It certainly was a frenetic start to the game and Salmon had to make a great diving save to push the ball round the post for a corner on 6 minutes. At the other end Darren Reid’s run set up Bruce for the striker to be denied by the Ellon keeper and from the rebound two further efforts were blocked.
Chances continued to be made by both sides and on 10 minutes Salmon’s legs saved the day when Ellon really should have scored and three minutes later a Connor Kelly cross found Craig Peters at the back post, but his half hit volley hit the Ellon side netting.
Both sides then had long range efforts easily saved half way through the first half, before a Jordan Clark corner was driven across the six yard box with no-one on hand to find the net. But on 28 minutes a shot was charged down by an Ellon defender’s hand with the referee blowing for a penalty. Mike Bruce stepped up having scored from the spot earlier in the season, but the Ellon keeper dived full length to his left to touch the ball away.
Banchory kept pressing despite this disappointment and Captain Steve Travers sent in a 20 yard volley straight at the visiting keeper. Saints continued to have the better of the half, but after 45 minutes it remained a stalemate.
Within five minutes of the restart, Banchory was reduced to 10 men when Travers was shown a straight red card for a challenge on the centre half. Substitutions were made almost immediately with Mark Reid and Conor Watt coming on for Craig Peters and Connor Kelly.
The sending off turned the game with Ellon now gaining the upper hand as Saints had to settle into a new formation. Despite the visitor’s superiority, Salmon was being well protected by his defence and it wasn’t until the 60th minute when he was forced to make a save at his near post.
However, on 63 minutes Ellon took the lead with a freak goal. A break down the right saw the winger send in a cross that sailed over Salmon’s head into the top corner of the far post.
Banchory were now trying to keep things as tight as they could and rely on the occasional break. Salmon and his defence did well to keep Ellon at bay and as Saints pushed forward in the final ten minutes, it did leave gaps at the back, but fortunately Ellon missed any “sniffs” that came there way.
As the clock went past 90 minutes there was only one thing Saints could do and that was throw caution to the wind. And in the 4th minute of added time a free kick was awarded to Saints which was quickly taken by Greg Smith to Darren Reid who squared the ball across the 18 yard line. For some reason the referee blew his whistle for the free kick to be retaken. This time Smith sent in a deep ball to the back post where Bruce rose the highest and his looping header found the top corner of the net at the back post.
Above: Mikey Bruce is mobbed by team mates after his 95th minute equaliser
There was some suggestion keeper Salmon had got a touch, but Bruce was awarded the goal. A good point in the end keeping Banchory in the top six after three League games. Ellon will be back at Milton Park on 14th September for the Quarter-Final of the Grill League Cup.
There were mixed feelings in the Saints’ camp post match.
Certainly with the way it was going we’re disappointed we didn’t win the game but after playing 45 minutes with 10 men, sneaking a draw in the 95th minute was a bonus. It was a great game for the neutral and could’ve been 2-2 within 10 minutes. I thought we then grew into the game and had control of it but we couldn’t find the goal. We’ve hit the post, missed a penalty, and a few other great chances, but that’s football. The red card changes it and Ellon take charge for a spell but even then, it’s taken a miss hit cross flying in off the back post to put them in front. They should’ve killed the game, having 2 big chances on the break as we’re pushing forward but thankfully for us, Ross has saved both and we’ve managed to rescue it. Massive praise to the lads though, 7 boys away, 45 minutes with 10 men, and the hunger they’ve shown to get something from the game is a credit to them!
Next Saturday 31st August sees another home McBookie.com Superleague game with Dyce Juniors the visitors, 2pm kick off.
Team: Ross Salmon, Darren Reid, Greg Smith, Jack Dalgarno, Josh Robertson, Steve Young, Craig Peters (Mark Reid), Steve Travers, Mike Bruce, Connor Kelly (Conor Watt), Jordan Clark. Subs: Ben Ross, Paul Ross, Riley Cooper.