The three highest men’s football teams may have been out of action last Wednesday, but that wasn’t enough to deter from a veritable feat of University football that took place mid-afternoon in the Sports Centre, down from the Observatory. Simultaneously at 2 pm, a feisty derby between the Saints’ 5th and 6th teams was taking place while on the pitch over the men’s 4th XI kick-started their cup run with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the West of Scotland 3rd XI. After a tame opening, scarce on chances, the Saints’ best chance of the nascent contest came courtesy of a driven cross from Jono Mizrahi narrowly slotted wide from the left-hand post. However, the visitors had had their chances earlydoors, with their centre forward snapping at an opportunity from point-blank range from a throw while UWS also got the ball in the back of the net from a glancing header, before the referee rightly chalked the effort off for a clear offside. Indeed the men from out west, buoyed on perhaps by their vocal supporters, finished the half the strongest of the two teams, winning the midfield battle and starting to edge the 50-50 contest.
The Saints were ultimately relieved to hear the halftime whistle sound and thus capitalise on the chance to tinker tactically and make some personnel changes. The second-half began almost instantly with a bang, proving this period would surely be more eventful than the first. Adam Dunn hit the post for the Saints, yet in under a minute, the visitors broke away in a one-on-one that keeper Nick Lightfoot had to be alert to snuff out. However, after that, the game seemed to revert to type; opportunities for the Saints became limited to mere half chances while both sides were arguably guilty of giving into the nerves of the occasion, focusing more on minimising errors as opposed to adopting a cavalier approach and going for the win Substitute Max James did come close to an opener with a mazy run in which he just about kept his footing, yet ultimately his shot was a weak one, proving to be no challenge for the opposing keeper.
However, almost inevitably, as the game entered the final 20 and individuals’ legs became more heavy, the game opened up and more chances presented themselves. Daniel Bolton-Jones thought he had put the hosts ahead before. Once again, the referee spotted an offside. Moments later, the visitors came agonisingly close to a crucial score with their centre forward just unable to reach a drilled cross from out wide. Minutes later, it was St Andrews’ chance to score as Benji Collett had a freekick from a central position just tipped over the bar. Ultimately though, the Saints would be the ones celebrating from a set-piece. With five minutes to go, a beautiful freekick from out wide was met by the glancing head of Josh Witzmann, who duly sent the ball into the back of the net to spark joyous scenes from the home ranks. It had been a cagey match that was light on chances, and you felt that whoever got themselves ahead would go on to triumph. This ultimately proved to be the case, as a disciplined defensive rearguard from the Saints was enough to get them over the line and turn their attention to the next round.