Banchory St Ternan 0-2 Sunnybank
With four League games left this was a must win game for Banchory to maintain their advantage over the other three title contenders. Sunnybank on the other hand had been dragged into the relegation equation and badly needed a win to relieve the pressure. Saints were forced into one change with Craig Peters replacing the injured captain Steve Travers.
And it was the visitors who came up trumps after the home side turned in one of their worst performances of the season in front of an expectant home support who had turned out in good numbers expecting another win having already beaten Sunnybank 3-1 and 2-1 earlier in the season.
With only four minutes gone a great chance for Saints to take the lead was passed up when a Liam Cheyne cross was headed over the bar by Darren Reid from 2 yards out. And this was punished two minutes later when Sunnybank won the ball in midfield played a fine through ball to the number 10 who beat Conran Wilson to fire in an angled shot into the net off the far post. The equaliser seemed certain two minutes later when Grant Munro took a short corner to Liam Cheyne and from the left back’s cross the ball fell to Josh Robertson who’s first attempt from two yards was saved by the keeper and his second blocked on the line once again.
On 12 minutes Cheyne was in action again when he headed square to Darren Reid who volleyed past the post from an excellent position. Sunnybank responded immediately with two corners in quick succession, with Ross Salmon in Saint’s goal punching clear under pressure.
The big number 10 was proving to be an awkward customer for the visitors and he managed to evade a couple of challenges to fire in a shot that Salmon palmed away. And at the other end Ryan Whelan turned his defender only to see the Sunnybank keeper in position to make an easy save on 21 minutes. Then shortly after Darren Reid blasted over form a Craig Peters low cross.
Sunnybank always looked dangerous, but it was Banchory who were creating the better chances and another came along this time falling to Steve Young who fired over the bar after the keeper palmed down a corner. Sunnybank won a free kick wide left with Salmon again being forced to punch away.
On 35 minutes Ryan Whelan was clearly pushed in the back just inside the box, but the referee waved play on much to the consternation of the Saints dugout and fans. This turned out to be a big turning point as with four minutes Sunnybank increased their lead. A powerful shot from just inside the box was parried away by Salmon with the rebound being fired low into the net.
Conran Wilson picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Ben Ross with a few minutes remaining in the first half. Whelan had a half chance for Saints before Sunnybank went very close with a low shot going just past the post.
Frantic was the best way to describe the start to the second half as far as Banchory were concerned, too rushed and not much thought. Calum Wilson replaced Dean Henderson after 56 minutes.
Jordan Clark found himself free down the right but his cross found no takers in the box and then Grant Munro wriggled his way into the box and it seemed he had an open goal to pick his spot, but somehow the captain for the day could not get the ball from under his feet.
Sunnybank were not producing much but they won a free kick on 65 minutes after a move down the left, but their low cross was easily cleared. A third substitution was made by Saints with 25 minutes remaining, Mark Reid replacing Craig Peters.
The remainder of the game became a non-event with not much action to speak of. Neither side seemed capable of creating anything. Calum Wilson did manage to send in an awkward cross but once again there were no takers. Ross Salmon pulled off a fine diving save to thwart the number 8 near the end but that was the extent of the action.
The Saints’ boss had this to say after the game.
I thought the first 15/20 minutes were key. Sunnybank started well and rattled our back 4 which is disappointing considering how good they’ve been the past few games. We missed big chances and when Sunnybank score it knocks the belief out of us. We stopped playing our game and ended up turning in one of the worst performances i’ve seen from us. Credit to Sunnybank, they got the 2 goals that allowed them to sit in the second half and hit us on the break. Ross has pulled off 3 great saves and thankfully a couple efforts flew wide or it could have been much worse. We’ll dust ourselves down and go again for Saturday, knowing we have to be better.
The final three league games are all against Banchory’s title challengers and all at home: Fraserburgh United 20th April and Stoneywood Parkvale 23rd April, with a date still to be arranged for the home game against Deveronside.
Team: Ross Salmon, Dean Henderson (Calum Wilson), Liam Cheyne, Conran Wilson (Ben Ross), Josh Robertson, Steve Young, Craig Peter (Mark Reid), Darren Reid, Grant Munro, Ryan Whelan, Jordan Clark. Unused Subs: Euan Rose, Aaron Thomson.
This Saturday 13 th April saints are back on Cup business with their final Morrison Cup Section 2 tie away to Longside, kick off 2.00pm. A draw or win will be good enough to win the Section and guarantee a home tie in the Semi-Final.