The 1st XI became the first football team from St Andrews to be promoted for 8 years, after a thrilling 2-1 win over 2nd place team Strathclyde on Wednesday.
St Andrews created the first chance in a nervy opening ten minutes, with winger Ramsay Ross pulling a shot just wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area.
However, Strathclyde soon settled into the game, and their pressure was rewarded with a goal on the fifteen minute mark. A dangerous low ball across goal was swept in at the far post, just beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ali Cummings.
While the Saints looked disheartened, they stuck to their game-plan. Guillermo Royo-Villanova and Ross were linking up superbly on the counter-attack, and forced several dangerous corners through their strength and speed: an equaliser looked inevitable. A dangerous ball was whipped in by Hopkinson, and met by the head of Iain Mackie, who directed it past the goalkeeper to level the score.
The second half saw composure return after a frantic end to the first. St Andrews had packed the midfield, and were containing Strathclyde with ease, while still threatening on the counter attack. Saints winger Ross suddenly came into his own. After neatly turning around the Strathclyde centre back, he coolly slotted the ball home to an explosion of noise from the crowd.
The home team, spurred on by the goal and by the crowd, could sense victory and continued to pile on the pressure. Lone striker Royo-Villanova came close to grabbing a third goal for the Saints with an audacious overhead kick, and Mackie’s long throw-ins were causing concern for a Strathclyde defence that had found itself under real pressure.
A stunning forty yard cross-field ball from James Kettlewell picked out Ross in the middle of the box, who deftly flicked the ball past the keeper, but he was denied by the post, and was then forced off through injury with just ten minutes to go.
Strathclyde knew that they needed goals, but were simply unable to break through the St Andrews defence. St Andrews’ strength at the back was crucial to their victory, and as the final whistle went, the players, coaches, and spectators cheered wildly to celebrate a well-earned win, and a well-earned promotion.
A full match report and reaction from the players and coach will be included in next week’s copy of The Saint.