St Andrews United took another break from Super League action when they entertained South League side, Stoneyburn, in the East of Scotland Cup at Recreation Park.
Manager Jim Hardie would have doubtless liked to rest one or two players with one eye on the battles ahead to stay in the top division. However, with one of the smallest squads in the region that wasn’t possible and the only major change was in goal with Ryan Sloan getting a rare outing ahead of Scott Bennett.
United started brightly and a cross from Ryan McInnes in the second minute was headed inches over by Alan Rattray.
Saints’ start was rewarded four minutes later when Dignan lost his man on the right before squaring the ball to Paul Watson on the edge of the box who had the time and composure to pick his spot beyond Dodds in the visitors’ goal.
Stoneyburn had a chance when a cross from the right found Calvey but, as he advanced on goal, McMullan managed to get back and concede a corner.
O’Mara broke quickly for the visitors but Sloan was up to the challenge and came out to smother the danger.
Saints were given a gilt-edged chance to extend the lead on the 15th minute when the referee adjudged that Dignan had been pulled down by Dodds. Up stepped Fotheringham who fired his kick to the keeper’s left but not far enough as the big stopper got down to turn it away.
Farquharson had a chance when he beat the full back but, as Dodds came out, he shot across goal and out on the far side.
The visitors were level after 19 minutes, United appealing forlornly for offside as McCormack beat the offside trap and kept his calm before slotting the ball beyond Sloan and into the far corner.
Marshall almost put Stoneyburn in front but he fired his shot over the bar.
St Andrews had managed to re-group and McMullan was unlucky when he let fly with an effort that drifted just wide of the goal.
Saints restored their lead after good work by McInnes and Dignan when the ball broke to Patrick who struck his effort sweetly and beyond Dodds into the corner.
Stoneyburn almost pulled level for a second time when a cross from the right was headed just wide by Forsyth with Sloan beaten.
Saints won a corner after good work by Patrick and Dignan had played in McInnes, Morton clearing behind his own line. As the corner came in, Watson rose well but couldn’t get his header on target.
McCormack threatened to embarrass the United defence again as he raced clear but managed to lose the ball under his own feet and Sloan smothered the danger.
On the stroke of half-time, Rattray was beaten by the bounce of the ball and Forsyth managed to beat him but his shot was well saved by Sloan
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United should have made it three straight from the kick off as Farquharson took the ball to the by line before flicking it back on to Dignan’s head but he directed his effort straight at Dodds.
Dignan had the ball in the net after 48 minutes when he converted a cross from McInnes but the far side assistant had his flag up for offside.
A great crossfield pass from McMullan found Farquharson on the left who fed the overlapping MacRae, but his shot whistled just over the bar. Saints won a corner after 56 minutes when the ball broke from midfield to Dignan whose vicious dipping shot was deflected. McInnes took the kick and found Patrick unmarked at the back post but he headed in to the side netting.
On the hour mark, Suttie was unlucky with a header that went inches over from a MacRae cross.
Dignan almost scored when he was played in but Dodds tipped his shot brilliantly round the post.
Saints finally made it three on the 73rd minute when a Fotheringham cross found Dignan unmarked on the back post and he nodded home.
Four minutes later it was McInness’ turn to head over when he rose to meet a Watson chip.
Farquharson was replaced by Gary Sutherland and he was straight into the action when he received the ball in the left channel and managed to hold off Marshall before Dodds turned his shot wide.
Almost on full time, Watson made it four when he picked the ball up before hitting a sweet shot from 30 yards out in to the corner of the visitors’ net. Buchan was unlucky in injury time to see a vicious shot turned on to the bar by Dodds.
This was an effective performance by Saints and the scoreline eventually had the look that it deserved.
Once again, Saints didn’t really fire on all cylinders against a side that should have been buried before half time. Maybe they are saving that kind of performance for Kelty and Camelon to make things look a bit safer before title-chasing Bo’ness and Bonnyrigg come to town.