St Andrews United completed what has been an amazing season on Saturday by beating Kinnoull 2-1 to take the East Of Scotland Cup.
It happened amid much celebration at Hill of Beaths’ Keirs Park, and it was also fitting that both United goals came from the two players who had scored 26 between them prior to the final.
The winner came from the departing Kevin Fotheringham, who initially joined to boost the club into the Super League and who, this season, has done so much to keep them in it.
Saints were down to bare bones for the game, with holidays, work commitments and injuries finally taking their toll after a long season. Adam Porteous, Allan Ramsay and Paul Farquharson were all missing while the bench featured three trialists.
Kinnoull started the quicker and had the first opportunity in the third minute when Doig headed over the bar from a McKinlay cross. Sutherland directed a header straight at Bruce after good work from Sam Buchan and Carr had a gilt-edged chance when he beat MacRae but, with only Bennett to get past, he shot wide.
United had soaked up a lot of Kinnoull pressure, began to dominate and deserved to take the lead after 22 minutes. Dignan’s persistence on the right paid off and he got to the byline before cutting the ball back for Sutherland at the near post and the striker had the simplest of chances, nodding the ball beyond Bruce.
United had another chance when Fotheringham carried on a run into the box but, when he tried to lob the ‘keeper, the ball looped up in his hands. A long free kick from Alan Rattray caused mayhem in the Kinnoull box and they were lucky to knock the ball out at the expense of a corner.
Rattray was again at the centre of the action when he was booked for pulling down Doig on the edge of the box when the Kinnoull man had threatened to get away. Luckily for Saints, the resultant free kick came to nothing and was comfortably cleared.
On two occasions as the half came to a close, Kinnoull threatened with in-swinging corners but Bennett dealt with the threat admirably when he was put under pressure.
United had the chance to extend their lead as early as the second minute of the second half when Suttie met a McInnes corner but his header was too close to the goalkeeper.
Patrick was booked for a foul on Carr, but United replied in the best way when a McInnes corner was volleyed home with aplomb by Fotheringham at the back post.
United continued to press and a shot from Ryan Suttie went just wide on the 56th minute. Suttie had another great chance on the hour when he saw a volley tipped round the post by Bruce after great work by McInnes. As the resultant corner came in Kinnoull failed to clear their lines and Dignan was unlucky not to nod the ball beyond the keeper when he challenged for it.
McInnes was the next to enter the referee’s book when he was cautioned for persistent fouling.
Kinnoul started to make changes, with Tinley replacing John Fleming, and as the referee’s somehat erratic performance continued, Buchan was cautioned for a challenge on the United left.
The Kinnoull changes continued and Dewar replaced Gardner as the Perth side became increasingly desperate.
Ryan Suttie damaged a calf on the 85th minute and was replaced by Steven Stewart.
Kinnoull managed to pull a goal back when Doig found the back of the net, and United’s nerves weren’t helped on the 90th minute as Sutherland was sent off for something he said to the linesman, but Jim Hardie’s troops held on to record a great victory.
Now Jim Hardie has to tweak the side in to a Super League challenger as this forward-thinking club builds on a great season.