It may have been missed by the Sunday papers, but St Andrews United all but secured their status as a Super League team for another season on Saturday with a fine 1-0 victory over the reigning champions, Bo’ness United, at Recreation Park.
Unless Saints suffer a catastrophic capitulation, the battle for relegation is now between Lochee United, Carnoustie Panmure, Musselburgh Athletic and Bathgate Thistle.
St Andrews United have a knack of overcoming adversity when it really matters and this was no exception as manager Jim Hardie’s preparations were thrown in to chaos when Kevin Fotheringham strained a hamstring in training on Wednesday night.
With Sam Buchan as well as Paul Farquharson suffering with illness, Saints were down to the bare bones but started well, playing up the hill. A throw-in on the left after two minutes found Suttie on the edge of the box but the midfielder fired over the bar then - as a Bo’ness foray broke down - the ball was fed up the left once again, Patrick pulled itl back to Sutherland, but the recalled striker put his shot wide.
Bo’ness showed their own attacking prowess when Watt made progress on the right before firing across goal and out for a goal kick.
United took a deserved lead when an attack was only cleared, by the Bo’ness defence as far as Allan Ramsay who hit a blistering effort at goal, his shot took a deflection of Dignan and went past Christie in the visitors’ goal.
United should have made it two a minute later when a MacRae free kick was headed wide by Rattray. Dignan had the ball in the back of the net after 14 minutes when he tapped home a MacRae cross but he was adjudged offside. Suttie then had a chance when he was set free by an inch perfect ball from McMullan but he lobbed over the keeper and the bar.
Harvey broke free for the visitors but Porteous tracked him back, eventually knocking the ball out for a corner which was partially cleared to Gibb who powered a header back towards goal. Luckily for Saints, McMullan was in the right place at the right time to head the ball off the line.
Porteous was booked after 27 minutes for a late tackle on Nimmo. When the free kick came Scott Bennett missed it completely but St Andrews managed to clear and raced up the other end but the ball was cleared by Reilly for a throw in.
United were awarded a free kick that was deflected for a corner. When the corner came in, Patrick headed the ball back across goal and Porteous nodded it wide.
The second half started tamely with United quite content to let Bo’ness have the ball but then block them out when they got close to an attack.
The visitors made a substitution when Walker was replaced by Stewart. The visitors immediately threatened as the ball was floated in to the box but the ball was cleared for a corner. Canning swung the kick in to the box but Nimmo’s shot just drifted behind.
United made a quick break and won a corner which they took quickly, McInnes swung it in on to Porteous’ head but the big defender couldn’t get his header on target. Patrick was booked for something he said to the linesman.
Sutherland had a chance when he beat the Bo’ness defence but he shot straight at Christie, then Rattray had another opportunity but once again he headed over the bar.
Bo’ness had to go for it and replaced Reilly with Gribben. McInnes found his way in to the referee’s book on the 80th minute for persistent fouling, Sutherland missed another chance when he fired at the keeper then, on full time, McInnes put a shot inches wide when he had the keeper to beat.
It was nail-biting in the end but a 1-0 victory was the least United deserved and all that went with it.
Bo’ness were rightly disappointed and knew they got exactly what they deserved, the defeat probably putting an end to their Championship chances though Saints could bring them back in to it with a win against Bonnyrigg this coming Saturday.