Fine victory sets scene for season

United versus Camelon.
United versus Camelon.

The last time St Andrews United won a league game across the Forth was at Arniston last season when promotion to the Super League was secured.

Almost a year on, Saints recorded what could prove to be an equally important three points at Camelon’s Carmuirs Park on Saturday.

Saints boss, Jim Hardie, returned to the Falkirk club for the first time in eight years after lifting them into the Premier League and was forced into changes owing to illness and suspension. Loan midfielder Paul Watson had his three-game ban after his sending off against Linlithgow doubled at an appeal hearing during the week so he will not now be available until the final game of the season, and even then it is subject to the club reaching the East Of Scotland Cup final. Sam Buchan went down with illness during the week which ruled him out.

United started brightly with commitment and determination, and got a brilliant early reward in the second minute when a long throw on the right from skipper Ricky Patrick - who had climbed from his sick bed to play - found its way to Paul Farquharson unmarked and he crashed his shot beyond Hogarth.

United continued to cause problems for the static home defence which was proved when Dignan’s progress was unceremoniously halted by McCafferty.

A slip by Porteous let Knox free but the Camelon man fired wide from the edge of the box.

United should have increased their lead when a ball from Fotheringham set Dignan free and, with Hogarth off his line, all it needed was a chip over him but the St Andrews man took the ball too far and his poor effort was saved easily.

Dignan was once again fouled just outside the box. McInnes took the kick and Camelon struggled to clear but United couldn’t work the ball to a free man.

A great run by McInnes on the left took the ball on 75 yards but, when he played back to Dignan, the chance was wasted.

Saints continued to press and Farquarson got to the byline, squared the ball back but there was nobody in the middle to tap it into an open net.

Brass broke for Camelon as they enjoyed a rare foray into the Saints’ half but his poor cross was headed wide by Batchelor.

United were awarded another free kick for a trip on McInnes but again passed up the opportunity.

As half time approached, United struggled to clear the ball and Bennett was called into rare action to save from Jamie Shirra.

United should have had a penalty from the restart when Dignan was the subject of a hefty challenge from Cringan but the referee waved play on and, as Camelon broke ,Suttie was booked for a late challenge on Batchelor.

As the home side came in to the game, United were stretched all over the park and McInnes was the next one to feel the wrath of the referee when he was booked for a trip on Young.

Chances were becoming scarce for United, but Farquharson had an opportunity when Fotheringham flicked the ball on but Hogarth got down well to save at the near post.

Cringan made a barnstorming run through the United midfield before the advancing Bennett pushed him wide and he eventually lost the ball to MacRae.

On the hour, the home side got as close as they would get when Batchelor turned on the edge of the six-yard before crashing the ball against the bar.

Scott Bennett almost gifted Knox a goal when he went for a wander out of his area but, when the latter had the opportunity to punish the keeper, he shot wide.

Knox had a further chance when he got on the end of a clearance but this time Bennett was out quickly to put an end to the attack.

Dignan was booked when he challenged the keeper for a long ball and Farquharson did well when he squared back to McMullan who took it on before firing a swerving shot at Hogarth who held onto it.

Ramsay replaced Suttie as United tried to shut out the game, Patrick was booked for dissent and Sutherland replaced Dignan as Saints saw the game out and recorded a fine victory which may well prove crucial when the season ends.