Whitburn 2-3 St Andrews United: Saints battle back from 2-0 down to record memorable league victory

John StevensonJohn Stevenson
John Stevenson
St Andrews United travelled to face Whitburn in West Lothian on Saturday and both East of Scotland League first division promotion contenders served up a classic encounter which saw Saints battle back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

The game began with Danny Farrell making a brave block at the feet of Lewis Sawers then the St Andrews United winger shot straight at the goalie a few moments later.

Mick McGarahan, Harrison Edwards, Darren Liddell and Grant Hamilton also went close to scoring for the hosts during the ensuing ten minutes before Lewis Lorimer screwed a shot wide of Farrell’s left-hand post in the 21st minute.

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The next opportunity of the match fell to Sawers when he was denied a goal by an offside call following a scramble near the Whitburn line and the fans inside Central Park were getting great value for money as the chances kept coming.

Ryan McManus headed a cross straight into Farrell’s arms, Sawers saw a super run down the left wing halted by an equally fine tackle and Scott Reekie watched a header cleared off the line on the half an hour mark.

Sawers subsequently stabbed a weak effort towards Farrell before Liddell went close again at the other end of the park. Liddell went ever closer to scoring during the following attack with a good shot that was deflected wide for a corner then McGarahan hit the post from the resulting cross.

Tom Milne also cleared a ball off his own line as half time approached and the final action prior to the interval ended with the visiting defence blocking a low shot by Ally McInnes.

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The second period began with McInnes shooting just wide after a skilful solo run down the right wing but the lively Whitburn forward opened the scoring in the 50th minute when he slipped the ball past Calum Brodie from eight yards out.

The United defenders were disappointed not to perform better at the goal, especially since the ball was headed down to an unmarked player from a free kick, yet they recovered well to halt a dangerous break by Liddell a few minutes later.

The action continued to swing from one end to the other thereafter as Dignan curled an effort narrowly past Farrell’s left-hand post and Ross Crawford powerfully headed a corner off Brodie’s crossbar.

However, the home team moved further ahead on the hour-mark when Crawford and McInnes exchanged clever passes before the former calmly side-footed the ball into an empty net from the edge of the six-yard box.

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Thankfully, the St Andrews United players did not become too despondent at going two goals behind and Sawers almost scored with a low drive following the next attack, prior to earning another corner.

Saints then pulled a goal back from that set-piece as Ryan Roche’s header wasn’t properly cleared by Farrell in the 65th minute. The goalkeeper’s punched clearance landed at the feet of substitute Reece Redpath and the young midfielder fired a low shot towards goal.

Dignan was standing right in front of the goalie at the time and he flicked the ball into the net via a deflection off Farrell’s legs. Dignan then danced his way round Farrell en route to equalising in the 68th minute after a good pass from McManus and both sides went in search of a winner thereafter.

Dignan hit the bar with a header after Roche earned a corner and substitute Jordan Mackenzie smashed a shot off Farrell for Saints, whilst Liddell lashed an effort over the bar for Whitburn.

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The visitors were beginning to dominate proceedings at that point as two further chances went abegging but Brodie was relieved to see a deflected shot graze his far post at the other end of the pitch.

However, the away team grabbed a dramatic winner in the 87th minute of the contest when Mackenzie flicked a deep cross from the right towards Reekie and the skipper beat the offside trap as well as Farrell with a very composed finish.

Mackenzie and Sawers also wasted great opportunities to seal the points from one-on-one situations heading into injury time yet the final whistle heralded tremendous scenes of celebrations amongst the travelling contingent shortly afterwards.

St Andrews United therefore recorded one of the most notable victories of the season to date and Robbie Raeside’s boys deservedly moved up to second spot in the East of Scotland First Division table.

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Meanwhile, St Andrews United’s under-20s won 4-0 at Glenrothes the previous evening thanks to doubles from Aidan Mackenzie and Haydn Farningham.

The club have also confirmed supporters’ bus information for the Scottish Cup second round tie at Albion Rovers.

Buses will be departing at noon from the stadium with a pickup at Cupar if required, returning immediately once game is finished. The social club will be open from 11am for refreshments and bacon or sausage rolls.

Last call for seats is this Monday at 5pm. Payments (£10 per seat) are to be given to club secretary Scott Bryson.

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