The men’s first football team welcomed their counterparts from Glasgow Caledonian University for their round of 16 clash in the Queen’s Park Shield in their first match after the winter break. Having been held to two consecutive draws in the league games leading up to the break, the Saints would have been hoping for a return to the dominant form that saw them topping the league earlier in the season.
Glasgow, in blue, got the game started and play was frantic for the first few minutes, with half-chances at both ends. As the sides began to settle, however, it was St Andrews, in white, who took control of possession. A shot from the edge of the area following a corner left the Glasgow keeper counting his blessings as it passed just wide of the post. The visitors would soon reply, with a counter attack down their right wing resulting in a wasted free header in the St Andrews box easily saved by keeper Alec Cadzow.
Play remained even for much of the first 25 minutes, with both sides making good use of the ball in attack, but failing to find the final ball to break down their opponent’s defence terminally. Glasgow nearly found the breakthrough when a dipping, swerving shot from the edge of the area was masterfully tipped over the bar by Cadzow. Just two minutes later, it was the Saints who were celebrating, as midfielder Alessandro Purlini calmly slotted home from a precise through ball as the home side took a 1-0 lead.
The goal seemed to open the floodgates, for not long after play resumed from the centre spot St Andrews had the Glasgow area under siege. Corner after corner rained down into the Glasgow area, with shouts for handball from the attackers as a shot was blocked. The block seemed in vain after the keeper was nearly rounded, but he recovered to put the ball behind for another corner. The keeper at last held onto the shot, breaking the siege.
But the Saints were not to be kept out for much longer, as only a few minutes later another corner was cleared high out of the area, only for Purlini to lash a spectacular volley into the bottom right corner of the visitors’ net to bag his second of the game. Unsatisfied to just play out to the halftime whistle, Yu Okamura was sent through clean-in on goal just before the break but couldn’t convert, the shot passing just wide. The start of the second half was much the same as the first, with both defences preventing half chances from being converted.
Five minutes into the second half, Glasgow were the beneficiary of a soft free kick about 25 yards from the goal. They couldn’t convert – the ball cannoned into the wall and the resulting counter could have led to a third.
The home side continued to put pressure on the Glaswegian area, with a shot cleared off the line following a corner only for a second shot to rebound off the underside of the bar. The Saints’s advantage was soon extended further by Purlini, who completed his hat-trick from a simple opportunity in the Glasgow area coming from an excellent low cross into the box. Having performed admirably, Purlini was substituted soon after.
The intensity seemed to leave the game following the third goal, with play drifting back and forth with neither side creating many chances. The best opportunities fell to St Andrews but in the end it was the Glasgow keeper, in attempting to make a save, who parried the ball into his own net to give St Andrews their fourth.
Cadzow would soon make a stunning save from a close-range shot following a Glaswegian corner. The man in the other net then had a moment of madness, using his hands to contest a high ball outside of his area. There were calls for a red card, mainly from the home supporters, but the referee looked kindly on the mistake given the state of play and the short period of time left in the game. Indeed, the shot which struck the wall and went out for a corner from the resulting free kick was to be the last action of the game.
Following this strong performance, the Saints will hope to press on in their upcoming fixtures against league leader Glasgow’s first team in the league, followed by a visit to Aberdeen to face their second team in the Scottish Conference Cup.