Mistakes from goalkeeper Alistair Cummings allowed Lomond Victoria to cruise past a poor Saints 1st XI, who only have themselves to blame for a 3-0 defeat which denied them the opportunity to go clear at the top of FAFA Division 1.
The Saints schizophrenic season continues. Wednesdays are a real forte for the side, having notched up 4 straight wins to propel them to the top of the BUCS Scottish Division 3A. Last Wednesday saw another win on the road, this time a 3-0 victory at University of Strathclyde, which in turn had come off the back of an exciting 5-3 victory away at Dysart on Raisin Saturday. The Saints forward line have been finding their form of late, the combination of the resurgent Sargaent, Fazackerley, and Kettlewell, with the pace of Ross and Hopkinson on the flanks, has become a force to be reckoned with.
A cold and damp afternoon greeted the side on Saturday for the visit of Lomond Victoria; the Saints welcomed the return of Kieran McGrath back from injury to partner Thomas Finkenzeller in midfield, and Ian Mackie moved out to right back in his continued return from a thigh injury. Despite recent games, goal-scoring form appeared to desert the striking combination of Sargaent and Fazackerley, although the quality of service was distinctly sub-par. Lomond Victoria took the lead against the run of play when Cummings allowed a shot straight through him.
Chances continued to come after the half-time break; Stuart Milne threw on Charlie Hopkinson to provide an injection of extra pace, and he and Ross, with Mackie providing able support on the right, tormented both full-backs, but the delivery continued to be poor.
The clocks going back mean that the second halves of these games see a low sun shining down one of the goalkeepers; on this occasion it was Cummings who suffered at the hands of the Scottish winter. The sun played a role in Lomond’s second goal, when a shot from ranged swerved late and the partially-unsighted Cummings could only parry. The defence were cemented in place, and the follow-up was easily converted.
Watching the game, it seemed impossible that Lomond were in fact the team ahead, but St Andrews were wasteful with their possession, and failed to exploit their superior fitness levels. For a period after the hour mark, every pass seemed to fall short, and every cross was cleared by the first man. Eventually a Mackie long throw found its way past all the defenders to Fazackerley, who inexplicably made no contact with the goal gaping before him.
Minutes later, at least Wallace Brown made contact, when he had a free header at the back post from Javier Hernandez range, but somehow contrived to head it wide.
As the game wore on, the quality of the football deteriorated severely, as Lomond resorted to brute force to try to counter their lack of fitness. They conceded a number of free kicks in dangerous positions, but the Saints continued to fail to convert their chances. With the composed Cotter, whose performance was a sole positive from the game, pushing further forward in an attempt to create more chances, it was inevitable that there should be more for Lomond at the other end. Smith scrambled admirably on several occasions, and eventually the third goal came from a set-piece, as a short corner caught the defence napping, and Lomond ended the game as a contest.
The Saints will need to improve drastically if they are to continue their run in the BUCS league on Wednesday on their trip to Abertay. Skipper Cummings might want to invest in a cap too…