A SCRAPPY game at the Links went the way of Alness United today as St Duthus were defeated in controversial circumstances in this afternoon's Macleod & MacCallum North Caledonian League meeting. With the scores at 1-1, the visitors snatched a late winner one minute from time, while calls for offside were waved away.
With multiple absences to contend with, Stuart Ross named a short 14 man squad, with player-coach Paul Cowie taking up a place on the bench alongside Ewan Ross and Jamie Skinner. With Scott Miller and Craig Ross both absent, Ken Morrison was recalled while Cammy Mackintosh returned the squad after missing out last week.
United's Callum Gow was first to offer any kind of test in the game just five minutes in when Steven Martin was left helpless with a curling shot which rattled the Saints crossbar.
At the other end on 24 minutes, good link up play between Joe Sutherland and Liam Rostock on the right wing saw the latter square the ball across the eighteen yard box to present Cammy Mackintosh with a great opportunity, but the midfielder's resultant effort was fired low and wide of goal.
Chances were at a premium as the game was contained to the midfield for most of the first half. With half an hour gone, Saints tested Rae for the first time with a free kick, as Jon Campbell forced the Alness stopper to turn the ball wide with a stinging effort. A chance moments later for Cammy Mackintosh was sent wide as the game continued without a breakthrough.
The opener eventually arrived just before the break. With two minutes of the first period remaining, a ball across the face of goal evaded the St Duthus defence, and former Saints man Miller Mackay was left with the easy task of tapping home from close range.
Half time: St Duthus 0 Alness United 1
The Saints restarted brightly and ten minutes into the second half, they got themselves back into the game at 1-1. The goal was the result of great persistence from Finn As-Chainey, who battled well before forcing the ball home after a block from Rae fell into his path in front of goal.
Chances for Liam Rostock and Mackintosh followed but Rae remained largely untested as shots flew over and wide, and as the hour mark approached a number of bookings were issued for dissent during a disjointed and ill-tempered period of the game.
On 75 minutes, an injury to the knee of Gregor Mackay halted play for several minutes before the Alness full back was stretched off the park.
In the end, it wasn't to be the Saints day. With a minute of normal time remaining, a long ball was played into the path of Miller Mackay who appeared in an offside position by several yards - but waving play on, referee Molly Alexander allowed the game to continue and in an advanced position, Mackay slotted the ball beyond to Martin to give Alness a late winner.
Full time: St Duthus 1 Alness United 2
Steven Martin, Joe Sutherland, Will Ross (Ewan Ross 70), Ken Morrison, John Skinner (bkd 69), Jon Campbell (bkd 62), Cammy Mackintosh, Rory Patience, Liam Rostock, Ryan Patterson, Finn As-Chainey
Subs not used: Paul Cowie, Jamie Skinner
Michael Rae, Shaun Grant, Gregor MacKay (Michal Zaleski 78), Chris Graham (bkd 66), Ryan Stewart, Gordon Finlayson (bkd 68) (Jude Fraser 73), Callum Gow (Robbie Murray 90), Jack Mackay (Ryan Hamilton 90), Callum Johnston (Martin Godwin 82), Miller Mackay, Daniel Lowe
Referee: Molly Alexander