Saints relegated after Dunipace loss

Saints battle for possession during the weekend's defeat. Pic by John StevensonSaints battle for possession during the weekend's defeat. Pic by John Stevenson
Saints battle for possession during the weekend's defeat. Pic by John Stevenson
St Andrews United…….....1Dunipace…………………......4

St Andrews United faced Dunipace outfit at The Clayton Caravan Park Recreation Ground knowing that defeat would officially result in relegation from Conference A to the Second Division.

Indeed, Saints started the game well on a good day for football, with a pitch that was much drier than the previous week at Livingston. Playing up the slope, the home team launched several balls over the visitors’ defence and the first decent effort of the afternoon was easily held by away goalie David Kane. The Dunipace rear-guard also did well to deny a pacey United attack enough time and space to seriously threaten their goal during the opening half an hour. However, ‘keeper Kane made a big mistake in the 32nd minute when he took the ball to hand at least two feet out of his area. The goalie had been playing a large part in breaking down St Andrews United’s efforts with runs off his line to clear several dangerous situations but his handling error led to a red card and an early bath. Jason Penman then curled the resulting free kick just past the right side of the wall and into the net to score a fantastic opening goal for Saints. The visiting players were a bit shocked to be losing at that point yet they quickly moved down the slope by taking control of proceedings for the first time in the game. That pressure therefore paid off in the 45th minute when leading light David Grant managed to get a foot to a ball in the area and fire it into the roof of the net. Grant was there again less than a minute later when he beat United ‘keeper Ben Swinton to the ball before giving Dunipace the lead at the break, much to the shock of the home supporters. The St Andrews United boys consequently tried hard to restore parity at the start of the second half but their opponents made life difficult for them, despite being down to ten men. As such, Saints only created a couple of decent chances throughout the second period when one well-hit effort narrowly cleared the crossbar just after the hour-mark and a header also went over the bar eight minutes later. Dunipace then put the result beyond doubt in the 85th minute as Keir Stevenson found the net with a delightful free kick that sailed past the outstretched hand of Swinton. Unfortunately, that goal really knocked the stuffing out of United and the Dunipace forwards broke again in the 90th minute with only Swinton to beat. The move ended with Grant earning a penalty as he was brought down in the area but Swinton palmed Stevenson’s spot kick away from the goal. However, Grant pounced on the loose ball to score Dunipace’s 103rd goal of the league season and complete his hat-trick in the process. In contrast, St Andrews United has notched 39 league goals and manager Barry Cockburn still has a great deal of work to complete if his team is going to be ready for the beginning of next season in the Second Division.