St. Duthus 4 Invergordon 1

In the first Easter Ross derby of the season, St. Duthus dished out a first half thrashing and a comfortable win across ninety minutes to hand local rivals Invergordon their first league defeat of the season.

Just one change to last weekend's winning semi-final side saw Johnny Allan come in for the absent Stephen Campbell between the sticks, while Aiden Stainke and Finlay Macleod were recalled to the bench.

A fairly even start saw chances divided at either end but the first save of the match came at the Saints end as Johnny Allan reacted well to collect an Ian Penwright shot on goal. Moments later, Allan had to be on his toes again to get down and turn a volleyed effort wide of goal.

Saints soon took control of the game on 24 minutes when Robbie Murray was fouled on the left wing. From the resultant free kick, Stefan MacRitchie found the top corner of the net with a stunning 30 yard free kick to make it 1-0.

Just four minutes later, St. Duthus doubled their lead and it took another MacRitchie free kick from the same flank for Mikey Rae to win an aerial challenge against Invergordon keeper Grant Beattie to nod into the empty net.

Just after the half hour, Saints went 3-0 up and Invergordon were out with the rigs at sea as MacRitchie provided the ball in yet again for Ben Bruce to easily head the ball over an oncoming Beattie.

Content to contain, Saints dropped the tempo in the second half and perhaps unsurprisingly Invergordon pulled a goal back ten minutes in. A dangerous ball into the box was collected well by Ian Penwright who gathered and slotted past Allan with a composed finish.

The goal seemed to quickly kick St. Duthus back into the gear though as frustration began to grow in the opposition ranks and solid defending at the back once again from Skinner and Ross kept the Invergordon threat to a minimum.

With twenty minutes left, Saints had a very good shout for a penalty kick denied after Cammy Mackintosh broke clear down the by-line before being brought to the ground. The assistant referee though deemed the ball to have gone over the line on route.

The ever-impressive Jon Campbell nearly added to his scoring total for the season with a great chance on 80 minutes. A well placed cross from Finlay Macleod met the head of the midfielder who was standing completely free in the box, but his connection sent the ball wide of the post.

Moments later, a short corner taken by Macleod was delivered into the box by Alan Geegan, and it was was Mikey Rae in the box who met the ball with a glancing header, just missing the target.

Saints sealed the points in the 90th minute with a fourth goal and it was substitutes Finn As-Chainey and Scott Miller who created and finished it. Doing well to get beyond Daniel Christie, Miller played As-Chainey in on left before finding space in the box himself to get on the end of the return ball to steer it into the net.

In the closing moments a scuffle ensued between Scott Miller and Scott Houston and both were cautioned for their trouble. The latter, Houston, then saw red, having been booked already earlier in the game for a bad challenge.

Time was called shortly after as St. Duthus claimed all three points and extended their winning run to five games.

St. Duthus:
John Allan, Adam Allan (Alan Geegan 85), Mikey Rae, John Skinner, Reece Paterson, Jon Campbell (bkd 75), Stefan MacRitchie (bkd 53) (Finlay Macleod 76), Cammy Mackintosh, Ben Bruce (Scott Miller 88) (bkd 90), Will Ross, Robbie Murray (Finn As-Chainey 62)
Sub not used: Aiden Stainke

Grant Beattie, Jack Hudson, Arron Christie, David Mackay, Scott Houston (bkd 27, s/o 90), Kyle MacDonald (bkd 42), Jordan Knight (bkd 90), Ken Morrison, Shaun Kerr (bkd 22), Ian Penwright, Cammy Houston (Daniel Christie 46) (bkd 89)
Subs not used: Kai Taylor, Christopher Mailley, Joe Sutherland, Ross Munro

Referee: Eddie Nichol
Assistant referees: Colin Macdonald and Daniel Jack

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