St Andrews United secure place in Super League

Ryan Suttie, who scored the first goal against Kelty.
Ryan Suttie, who scored the first goal against Kelty.

ST ANDREWS UNITED 2, KELTY 2

ST ANDREWS United completed their ACA Sports Super League programme when they welcomed fellow Fifers, Kelty Hearts, to Recreation Park.

It is one of the intricacies of the fixture list that the two sides only met for the first time this season less than a month ago, when United lost 2-0 at Central Park.

Injuries once again weakened manager Jim Hardie’s options, but one bonus was the reappearance of Graeme Gibb on the bench after the completion of his loan period at Downfield.

United took the advantage right from the start and deservedly went in front after just four minutes.

Ryan McInnes’ corner on the Saints right was flicked on by Rattray and Ryan Suttie, at the back post, calmly headed beyond Allan Fleming in the Kelty goal.

With 15 minutes on the clock, United almost made it two when Sam Buchan seemed to have an open net to hit but somehow Fleming got a foot to his shot and the danger was partially cleared.

As United kept up the pressure, Dignan was flattened in the box but the referee awarded a free kick to the visitors.

Suttie forced another fine save from Fleming when he let fly from the edge of the box but the keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar.

Saints were well on top and a great run by MacRae ended with Fleming clearing the ball only as far as Dignan.

Unfortunately, the forward was unaware of the situation and the ball bounced back into Fleming’s arms.

Kelty had their first shot with any venom on the half hour as Nelly McCabe escaped from Porteous but the striker fired a soft shot at Bennett.

Kelty drew level from the spot after Bennett brought Meikle down in the box, the kick converted by Smith.

United were stung in to action and MacRae found McInnes with an inch-perfect 40-yard pass, the midfielder crossed for Sutherland who unselfishly laid the ball back to Buchan but his shot was deflected over by Duffin.

The visitors took the lead after 38 minutes when Penman whipped the ball in from the right and, as Bennett came out, he collided with McCabe and the ball deflected off the striker and into the net.

Porteous restored parity for St Andrews right on half time as he rose to bullet a header beyond Fleming from another great McInnes corner.

Duffin was booked early in the second half for leading with his arm as he challenged Dignan for a header. United took the free kick but, as it was cleared, Suttie was booked for the same offence.

St Andrews took the chance to give Ryan Sloan a run out and he replaced Bennett for the last half hour.

His first touch almost led to a Saints goal, the keeper kicking the ball forward, and his lengthy kick found Buchan in space but he saw his cross headed out for a corner by Duffin.

McInnes took the corner and a glancing header from Dignan drifted wide.

Gibb replaced Fotheringham and young striker Josh Paterson came on for skipper Ricky Patrick after 75 minutes but the game died out as tiredness took its toll on both sides.

It was a different performance from Saints compared with the one dished up at Central Park and a point was the least of what United deserved, but that point extinguished any lingering flames of relegation and next season United will be facing Linlithgow, Bo’ness and Kelty in the Super League once again.