Tensions rise as frustrated St Andrews depart King Cup

Livingston United…….....3St Andrews United……....1

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 10:51 am
Lewis Sawers in the thick of the action for St Andrews. Pic by John Stevenson.
Lewis Sawers in the thick of the action for St Andrews. Pic by John Stevenson.

St Andrews United faced a trip to Livingston United in the King Cup knowing that Whitburn awaited the winners in the quarter-finals, writes Donald Gellatly.

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The home team actually stated the match on the front foot and Mikey Gould forced a good save from Ben Swinton in the first minute. However, both sets of players struggled to come to terms with a very bobbly surface during the next quarter of an hour until Ross Cunningham opened the scoring with his first goal of the season. The left winger began the game playing as a number 10 yet he cleverly beat the offside trap on the right wing before smashing a terrific shot past goalkeeper Chris Ashley to give Saints the lead. The home coaching staff went crazy at the referee as they incorrectly demanded an offside call but they would benefit from some controversial decisions later in the match. In the meantime, Lewis Sawers wasted two glorious chances to increase United’s lead as he delayed in hitting one shot prior to smashing his next effort straight at Ashley. Jason Penman also watched two free kicks slide past the target and Adam Davidson mishit a couple of shots from near to the penalty spot as Saints failed to capitalise upon a period of dominance. That profligacy then proved costly as Livingston United equalised in the 38th minute from the penalty spot. Gould was fouled by Kieran Lindsay on the edge of the area and the same player dispatched the spot kick low to Swinton’s right as the goalie dived the right way. The action was swinging from end-to-end at that point and Cunningham almost pounced on a mistake by Ashley yet the ‘keeper regained control of the ball before initiating another move forward. That attack ended with Swinton making a smart save from Jeremiah Otonti and the last action of the first half saw the St Andrews United goalkeeper climb over several bodies to punch a corner out of his box. Unfortunately, the game turned fairly scrappy at the start of the second period, though Davidson missed another decent chance in the 56th minute and Gould lashed over from a good position at the opposite end of the park. Referee Strang also let a number of fouls go unpunished throughout the afternoon and he enraged the visitors by failing to spot a clear hand-ball in the box following a fabulous run by Sawers in the 65th minute. Reece Redpath subsequently conceded a needless free kick just outside his own 18-yard box a few moments later and Saints were made to pay when Chris Kelly’s free kick took a massive deflection off Penman. The ball spun agonisingly past Swinton to give Livingston United the lead for the first time and the game slipped away from St Andrews United thereafter. Another poor decision from Mr Strang resulted in a wonderful goal from the impressive Fraser Anderson wrongly being disallowed for offside and the official promptly became embroiled in an unsavoury exchange of words with United coach Scott Meikle as well as a visiting spectator. St Andrews manager Barry Cockburn then made two changes with Matty Hutchison and Scott Russell replacing Lindsay and Davidson respectively, which helped his team regain a foothold in proceedings. Alas, Russell missed a great chance to score with his first touch by swiping at fresh air and Sawers fired another shot straight at Ashley when it looked like he would find the net from eight yards. The levels of frustration therefore boiled over within the Saints’ squad and several players collected yellow cards for dissent and kicking the ball away. Indeed, Reece Redpath received a second yellow card for comments made to the referee deep into injury time so St Andrews United finished the match with ten men. However, there was enough time left for Otonti to add a third goal in the 96th minute as he raced clear of a tiring away defence prior to blasting the ball high past a helpless Swinton. The goalie still had a part to play in the contest thereafter as he went up for corner kick and headed weakly towards Ashley then the final whistle sounded to confirm Saints' disappointing exit from the King Cup.