Longside 0-3 Banchory
With qualification for Banchory already secured to the Semi-Final, this Morrison Cup Section 2 match was still important for both teams. Banchory needed to win or draw to top the Section and gain a home Semi-Final against Sunnybank. Longside on the other hand, needed a win for the same outcome, with defeat meaning the end of the season for the Buchan team.
Previous results this season suggested a win for Saints, with two victories and one draw earlier in the season, and it was Saints who triumphed with what turned out to be a fairly comfortable victory in the end.
Longside created the first chance within two minutes with an awkward cross which Ross Salmon palmed away and from Aaron Thomson’s clearance up the left, Ryan Whelan took his chance to send a lob come shot over the advancing keeper with the custodian getting a hand to the ball, but not enough to prevent it trickling into the net off the post.
Ryan Whelan (above) lobs the keeper to open the scoring in the 1st minute.
Steve Travers, back after last week’s injury made a thrusting run through the middle but elected to shoot instead of laying the ball off and the chance was gone. Dean Henderson bided his time to make a timely interception otherwise the Longside number 10 would have been through on goal. Ross Salmon’s long kick out almost gave Whelan another chance on 20 minutes but the ball just evaded the striker. A good move down the left and cross was headed away only as far as Mark Reid who volleyed well wide.
The home side had their best chance minutes later when a move down the left and low cross to the near post was cleared for a corner which was then headed clear by Josh Robertson. Salmon had another long kick out cause problems but this time Mark Reid was caught offside.
Another long kick out by Salmon gave Whelan a chance but this time he could not control the ball allowing a defender to clear the danger. Longside won a corner which was headed down with the resultant shot being half blocked with Salmon making an easy save at the post.
Longside had an expert in long throw ins and from one of these in 40 minutes, Aaron Thomson headed clear under pressure and then with a minute of the first half left Ben Ross’s 25 yard low shot was spilled by the keeper, but there was no Saints player close enough to take the chance.
The second half opened with Longside on the attack and there was a loud penalty claim when Josh Robertson tackled just inside the box, but the referee quite rightly waved play on as Josh had clearly won the ball.
On 51 minutes a Longside defender’s header back to his keeper was too short with Dean Henderson latching onto the ball 15 yards out but just as he was about to shoot the number 7 stretched in to clear for a corner. From the flag kick Mark Reid headed down at the back post which was frantically cleared for a second fruitless corner.
Saints were pushing forward now and looked likely to increase their lead at any time. On 58 minutes Ben Ross beat his marker only to be crudely brought down in the act of crossing, but Steve Travers free kick was wasted. Dean Henderson was replaced by Grant Munro on 60 minutes and immediately there were claims for a hand ball when a Longside defender appeared to block a shot with his hand but the referee waved play on.
Then as Banchory were in attack mode, the referee got in the way of a through ball, allowing the home side to break clear which ended with a shot well over the bar. The game was hotting up now with some heavy challenges from both sides.
Mid-way through the half Saints made a double substitution with Darren Reid and Craig Peters replacing Aaron Thomson and Jordan Clark. And within a few minutes Conran Wilson’s net bound 30 yard effort was deflected for a corner which Steve Travers sent to the back post where Steve Young forced the ball over the line surrounded by three defenders to make it 2-0.
In the final ten minutes it was all Saints. Whelan beat the offside trap down the left but his square ball found no-one in the box, then a Mark Reid cross from the right suffered the same fate. An even better chance came on 82 minutes but Whelan clipped the ball over the bar from 10 yards.
Right on the 90 minute mark Grant Munro burst clear from a move down the left and calmly slotted past the keeper to make it 3-0. It was almost four two minutes later but Craig Peters shot from just inside the box went inches past.
Saints’ boss Robb was pleased with his team’s performance.
We certainly looked more like ourselves this week. Getting a goal so early always helps and the return of Trav made a difference in the middle. We probably could’ve been a bit more clinical in the final third but 3 goals and a clean sheet away from home is a decent day’s work. We thought everyone was excellent and just the reaction we were looking for after last week.
Saints will now play the Semi-Final against Sunnybank at Milton Park on Saturday 27th April, kick off 2pm.
Team: Ross Salmon, Dean Henderson (Grant Munro), Conran Wilson, Aaron Thomson (Darren Reid), Josh Robertson, Steve Young, Ben Ross, Steve Travers, Mark Reid, Ryan Whelan, Jordan Clark (Craig Peters). Unused Subs: Euan Rose.
Next Saturday 20th April, Fraserburgh United, second in the First Division behind Banchory, visit Milton Park for a crucial League encounter, kick off 2pm. And on Tuesday 23rd April Stoneywood Parkvale also pay a visit to Milton Park for what will be Saints penultimate League game, kick off 7pm.