After losing two defenders to ankle injuries, St Andrews United boss Robbie Raeside chuffed to seal vital 4-3 win at Arniston Rangers

Given the fact that St Andrews United suffered the double defensive blow of having club captain Ryan Roche miss out after twisting his ankle during the warm-up before Ross Cunningham limped off with a similar injury just ten minutes into last Saturday's league trip to Arniston Rangers, Saints boss Robbie Raeside was understandably relieved to come away with the three points in a 4-3 victory.
Robbie Raeside's team are currently just three points below the promotion positions (Library pic by Scott Louden)Robbie Raeside's team are currently just three points below the promotion positions (Library pic by Scott Louden)
Robbie Raeside's team are currently just three points below the promotion positions (Library pic by Scott Louden)

With some other results in the East of Scotland first division going their way last weekend, United's tally of 39 points from 18 matches leaves them just three points behind third-placed Newtongrange Star - 1-0 losers at Dunipace - with Raeside’s team having played four games fewer than the side currently occupying the final promotion spot.

The Saints gaffer told the Herald and Citizen: “The pitch at Arniston was very soft and there were a lot of decent sized divots or holes in it.

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"And Ryan and Ross both turned an ankle on uneven bits of ground.

"Those two have both had a history of ankle injuries so it’s funny that two guys with maybe weaknesses there have both damaged them again on the same day.

"When we carried Rochey off on Saturday I thought he was going to be out for weeks but I think it’s more positive than that.

"I think it’s going to be a week or two he’s out for rather than weeks and weeks.”

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Despite their injury issues, last Saturday’s match saw dominant United lead 2-0 at half-time thanks to Owen Andrew’s double and – although Arran Laidlaw pulled one back for the hosts – an Andrew screamer and Lewis Payne goal put Raeside’s men 4-1 up before Laidlaw scored two more late on, the second of which was a penalty.

"We were by far the better team for the majority of the game,” Raeside added. “But Arniston are very dangerous at setpieces, they put the ball in the box and I felt they got a couple of lucky ricochets that fell for them and they managed to get a couple of goals out of nothing that made it far tighter than it should have been.

"It was as comfortable a 4-3 win as you get.

"In the last couple of weeks Owen Andrew has started to show his true colours. There were quality finishes for the first couple of goals, just passing the ball into the corner off the inside of the post.

"He has got a very clever football brain and his technique for the finishes was tremendous. His third goal – a worldy into the top corner from 25 yards – was a great strike.

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"On the ball Owen’s great but I’m still going to push him to work harder off the ball.

"I was really pleased for him and Lewis Payne getting his goal, which was a great finish. He had missed a couple of chances earlier on but that’s the life of a striker. At least he was in the positions to miss the chances.”

Roche, Cunningham and fellow ankle injury victim Cammy Lumsden are now all major doubts for Saints’ home league game against second-placed Camelon Juniors this Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.

"Camelon went to Oakley United last weekend and drew 3-3 with a last minute goal,” Raeside added. “That shows you how competitive the lower end of the league is.

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"Games in hand mean nothing. We’ve got to take one game at a time.

"Camelon will be a very difficult game. They are a good team who are not second in the league for nothing.

"We’re all going to have to raise our game on Saturday to get a result but it’s one we’re looking forward to.

"We’ve put ourselves in a decent position and this is the challenge in front of us now.

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"Hopefully we get a big crowd, the home support come out and make it a proper home game for us.

"Like Oakley, we will have a go against them.”

Saints also have an away league game against eighth-placed Blackburn United next Tuesday, March 19, kick-off 7.30pm.

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