League leaders made to work all the way by St Andrews

St Andrews United…...…..0Leith Athletic………….......1
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St Andrews United faced league-leaders Leith Athletic on a bright sunny day at The Clayton Caravan Park Recreation Ground and the players produced a performance that should have delivered at least a point. Manager Barry Cockburn fielded two trialists in central defence for the first time as well as Kyle Sneddon in midfield and Ross Cunningham on the left wing, though Lewis Sawers and Reece Redpath were absent due to minor injuries. However, United began the game on the front foot and the boys in black made the most of facing down the slope throughout the first half. Jake Grady fired a volley straight at Leith goalkeeper Campbell McLellan in the fifth minute from a superb cross by Cunningham then Jason Penman lobbed a shot over the away team’s crossbar a few moments later. Indeed, Cunninghan caused all sorts of problems down the left flank and he created a second chance for Grady before teasing the Athletic rear-guard with anther cross that was deflected wide for a St Andrews United corner. Trialist defender Reekie went close with a header from that set-piece but Leith immediately raced up the other end of the park and Jay Watson should have done better with a shot that cannoned back off Kyle Moran’s bar. Thankfully, the young goalie was not called into action very often as the first half progressed because most of the notable activity took place at the opposite end of the pitch. Grady continued to occupy great positions and the young forward blazed the ball over the bar following a clever flick by Callum Mcaulay prior to dragging his next effort wide of McLellan’s right-hand post. Grady also lashed another shot straight at McLellan on the half-hour mark and the visiting players began to fight amongst themselves as they became increasingly frustrated. Kayne Paterson and Kerr Allan therefore received bookings for losing their discipline yet the Leith Athletic boys eventually came to life with less than five minutes of the first period remaining. Cameron Stewart tested Moran with a long-range shot, whilst Reekie somehow managed to head a goal-bound shot off his own line following Athletic’s best move of the match. Leith boss Stevie Chalmers consequently gave his squad a tough time during the interval and it came as no surprise when they began the second half with all guns blazing. A cross from the right was delivered into a mass of bodies inside Moran’s 18-yard box and top-scorer Paterson used the back of his head to flick the ball towards goal. Alas, that effort clipped the inside of Moran’s back post and the ball hit the back of the net, much to the visitors’ relief and United’s despair. The home defensive had been resolute until that point, with Reekie producing a ‘man of the match’ performance, and the Leith forwards continued to struggle thereafter instead of putting the contest to bed. Moran did spill one shot that caused some panic amongst his defenders but the 20-year old was otherwise assured and he made a great save from Stewart later in the match. If anything, St Andrews United looked more like notching the next goal of the game because Grady forced McLellan into making his best save of the afternoon in the 61st minute, Cunningham missed the target with a rare right-footed effort and substitute Scott Russell almost scored with a volley in injury time. Unfortunately, the home players did not always benefit from the break of the ball on a soft pitch that did well to survive recent stormy weather so Leith Athletic claimed all three points at the end of a very entertaining encounter.

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