AN EIGHT goal thriller at the Links ended all square between St Duthus and Thurso yesterday, as the Saints earned their first point of the season.
Due to a number of absences, manager Stuart Ross was forced into a number of changes for the visit of Thurso. Alan Geegan and John Skinner were both recalled to the squad, while Iain Ross also made his return. There was a debut too for centre half Charlie MacDonald.
Thurso started on the offensive and struck in the fifth minute. A corner from Innes MacKintosh was punched away from goal by Ali Matheson but was only sent into the path of Conor Trueman who headed downward, and centre half Aiden Reid made no mistake when he lashed the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
A clever through ball from Iain Ross played Justin Rogers in on goal soon after the restart, but an offside call saw the chance go abegging. The Saints remained undeterred as they looked to bounce back quickly and Steven Hyslop had to be on his game in the 10th and 12th minute from Rory Patience and Lewis Ross after Rogers played some incisive passes through the Thurso back line. The same man shot just over the bar with a first time effort on the quarter hour mark.
The equaliser arrived two minutes later. A ball into the box was headed into danger by Michael Petrie and with the greatest of composure, Cammy Mackintosh struck the ball first time with a sweet left foot shot which sailed over Hyslop and into the net.
Thurso looked to restore their lead straight away and from a cross into the box James Swan headed straight at goal, Charlie MacDonald saving the Saints bacon with a headed clearance on the line.
It was 2-1 to the Saints on 22 minutes and the goal came thanks to a great solo effort from Iain Ross, scoring his third of the season. Running onto the ball in the final third, he did very well to hold off Benn Murray before slotting the ball past Hyslop into the far bottom corner.
Another good ball from Rogers found Cammy Mackintosh in space and turning to shoot the Saints captain forced Hyslop to tip over his bar for a corner kick. Moments later, Hyslop had to be at his best again to deny Iain Ross a second goal and from the rebound Scott Bell blocked a goalbound effort from Alan Geegan.
Half time: St Duthus 2 Thurso 1
The Vikings took the early initiative in the second half and within nine minutes they had found an equaliser. A dangerous Innes MacKintosh corner found James Swan at the back post and the Thurso striker forced the ball over the line.
Just three minutes later Thurso took a 3-2 lead, this time from a free kick. Sent into the box, Connor Trueman flicked the ball into the path of Allan Munro and the Vikings right back shot first time to beat Matheson from four yards.
On the hour mark, a brilliant block from Charlie MacDonald prevented Martin Sutherland from scoring his side's fourth after a loose ball fell to the Thurso midfielder ten yards from goal.
At the other end, Iain Ross did brilliantly to break down the left hand side and after shooting across the face of goal the ball fell to Callum Neil, but the midfielder's shot towards the empty goal was blocked on the line.
As quickly as it seemed Saints might get back into the game, Innes MacKintosh produced a moment of class on 65 minutes to beat Matheson with a 25 yard lob to make it 4-2.
The Saints heads were yet to go down though and a man of the match performance from Iain Ross was capped off when he won a penalty. With twenty minutes to go, Cammy Mackintosh stepped up to make no mistake with a superb conversion. The remaining twenty minutes were now reserved for a persistent St Duthus, playing in search of an equaliser.
Despite a handful of set pieces for Thurso, the chances were most notable for St Duthus in closing stages. The winner came two minutes into injury time. A ball sent forward by John Skinner fell into the path of substitute Bartek Sosnowski and despite the visitors' best attempts to thwart the chance, the Polish forward eventually made no mistake with his finish, earning his team a well deserved home draw.
Full time: St Duthus 4 Thurso 4
Ali Matheson (bkd 54), Alan Geegan, Paul Beaton, John Skinner, Charlie MacDonald (Bartek Sosnowski 80), Robbie Murray, Rory Patience (Iain Macrae 87), Cammy Mackintosh, Lewis Ross (Callum Neil 58), Justin Rogers, Iain Ross
Steven Hyslop (bkd 86), Allan Munro, Shaun Forbes, Aiden Reid, Benn Murray, Scott Bell (Craig Trueman 73), Martin Sutherland, Conor Trueman, James Swan, Michael Petrie (Lewis McKechnie 89), Innes MacKintosh
Referee: Gavin Dearie
Man of the Match: Iain Ross