Bridge of Don Thistle 1 v 1 Banchory St.Ternan
Banchory made their second visit to the Aberdeen Sports Village for this McBookie.com Superleague match having scored a narrow 4-3 victory at the start of the season in the Grill League Cup. But the Aberdeen side had picked up some good results since then particularly last week with a very good win in the Scottish Junior Cup, so Banchory were under no illusions that this would be a tough game.
The squad was down to the bare minimum with injuries, illness and holidays leaving 16 players to choose from.
Banchory were first to show their intent when Mikey Bruce got in behind his marker but fired well over the Thistle bar after only two minutes, but the home side went up the park and had two shots blocked the second for a corner.
The best chance came on 11 minutes when a Liam Cheyne free kick was headed down at the back post with Mark Reid firing over the bar from close range, but the referee blew for an infringement from the header.
Neither side had really settled and play became a bit scrappy. Saints had the better of the half chances with both Aaron Thomson and Conor Watt having shots blocked and then Bruce closed down preventing him getting a shot away.
The home side were never out of it and they had a good spell firstly on 21 minutes when Craig Peters, playing well in his new right back role making a great last ditch tackle to prevent a certain attempt on goal. That was followed minutes later with Josh Robertson making a vital headed clearance from a corner.
The first goal of the game came out of the blue on 24 minutes when a ball into the box found Robertson and as he attempted to control the ball, the Thistle defender had a hold of his arm. Mikey Bruce stepped up for the penalty and despite not connecting perfectly, the ball found the bottom corner of the net.
Five minutes later there were loud shouts for the equaliser when Ross Salmon shouted for a cross ball, completely misjudged the flight and with the ball seemingly bouncing over the line Josh Robertson made the clearance and as the referee was not in a position to make a definite decision, play continued.
Bridge of Don were on the front foot now and had a shot blocked that ended going over for a goal kick.
Mark Reid was let free on the left, cut inside but his effort was saved by Thistle’s keeper, Park.
A sweeping move from Thistle on 33 minutes form right to left ended with Alexander’s low shot going inches past the far post. Then on 35 minutes Thistle levelled the game when Andrew’s shot was blocked with the rebound being
headed onto the post leaving an easy chance for the home side to score from close range.
Thistle had another chance minutes later which was wasted by a poor shot over the bar and the last chance of the first half fell to Saints’ Liam Cheyne with a free kick that was deflected past the post on 45 minutes.
Into the second half and it was the home side that took the initiative with an early free kick and then a corner. But on 53 minutes Saints should have taken the lead when Mark Reid broke through to fire in a low shot that looked net bound only for Thistle keeper Park to save with his legs. A corner followed but the delivery was poor allowing Thistle to break up the park, thankfully the danger was cleared.
On 60 minutes a mix up with two Saints defenders allowed the high ball to drop nicely for a Thistle forward who blasted well over from 15 yards. Craig Peters came to the rescue again when he just managed to stretch and clear for a throw in, otherwise Thistle would have been through on goal.
There was controversy on 63 minutes when Mikey Bruce made a run from his own half to collect and inch perfect pass and after running several yards the referee decided to blow for offside. Video evidence later proving he was a few yards inside his own half.
Then a minute later a low Thistle shot hit Josh Robertson’s arm as he lay on the ground and the referee was quick to award a penalty and book the Saints centre half. Thistle’s Gordon stepped up but his penalty came off the post and out for a goal kick. Then five minutes later a long high through ball saw Robertson and a Thistle forward collide 4 yards outside the penalty area and to the astonishment of most people, the referee awarded a free kick to the home side and gave Josh a second yellow and his marching orders.
Saints made a change within a minute Martin Shand being replaced by Jordan Clark. With the extra man Thistle found space down their left and an inviting cross along the six yard box was missed by everyone.
With 13 minutes remaining Connor Kelly came on for Mike Bruce and despite the continued pressure Salmon’s defence was holding out well restricting any direct shots on his goal.
In the last few minutes another decisive decision was made by the referee. This time it was no to a penalty when Darren Reid burst into the Thistle box and appeared to be brought down from behind by one or both defenders that put in the tackle.
Salmon did have to make save when a weak header from a corner was directed straight at him, but that was the extent of the chances that Thistle had despite their numerical superiority. In the final minutes Mark Reid was replaced by Dean Henderson.
Saints’ boss was delighted with his team at the end:
I thought the lads were excellent. We went with a plan and linesmen are possibly the only thing stopping it working to perfection. We gave up the lions share of possession to sit in and restrict them as much as possible, and hit on the counter. Not really the way we like to play but with 5 boys out we felt it was best on the day. Sometimes you’ve to be a bit more pragmatic in the approach, but we’ve created some good chances too. Mikey had a good chance early on and if Mark gets in front of the defender rather than cutting back he’s through on the keeper. He’s had another great chance early in the second half but Barry saved it well. The offside decision and the penalty in the last few minutes hurt us. Mikey is yards in his own half and through one on one with the keeper, then Darren has beat both their defenders to the ball and been clattered. The video footage shows Mikey in his own half and even the Thistle players said it was a stonewall penalty, but the referee is there himself and he’s 30 odd yards away from both decisions, so it’s just a guess. Frustrating, but we have to accept it. Obviously if Thistle score their penalty it could have been different, and it’s not to say Mikey would’ve scored the one on one or the penalty but i’d have backed us to put one of them away. Disappointing not to take all 3 points but equally we could’ve left empty handed so we’ll take the point, lots of positives and a few things to work on moving forward.
Team: Ross Salmon, Craig Peters, Liam Cheyne, Aaron Thomson, Josh Robertson, Conor Watt, Darren Reid, Mark Reid (Dean Henderson), Steve Young, Martin Shand (Jordan Clark), Mike Bruce (Conner Kelly). Subs: Riley Cooper, Jack Dalgarno.
Next Saturday its back to cup duty with Hall Russell United visiting Milton Park for a 2nd Round tie in the Quest Inter Region Cup, kick off 2.00pm.