Three goals in the second half saw Dundee beat St Andrews and win the 2017 Varsity game at University Park last Wednesday.
Taking place in driving rain, the game began as a very scrappy affair, with neither side able to gain a firm foothold. Both sides fired wide in the opening 25 minutes, with the away side’s opener on 29 minutes requiring a generous call from the referee.
Saints keeper Alec Cadzow was left one-on-one with the Dundee number nine and in his attempt to get the ball he ended up taking out the striker and a penalty was duly awarded, despite the fact the keeper had clearly made an attempt to play the ball. The striker hit it hard and low into the right hand side of the net, giving Cadzow no chance as Dundee took the lead.
There were no further goals before the break as both teams battled in midfield, with spells of possession few and far between and chances often snapshots rather than clear-cut opportunities.
St Andrews had a couple of chances immediately after the break but they were regularly guilty of overplaying when they got themselves into good positions and that profligacy cost them as the side from across the Tay got their second on 68 minutes.
Dundee were lively in attack and their slick passing cut through the Saints defence, with their substitute striker curling into the bottom left corner to double their advantage. However, the goal was followed by disgraceful scenes with Dundee fans storming the pitch, some of them striking the St Andrews players.
Those scenes clearly further riled up both sides and the derby atmosphere came to the fore in the final 20 minutes, with horrific challenges flying in left, right, and centre. As the match began to heat up, it was the away side who put the icing on their very composed performance with two late goals.
The 3-5-2 formation implemented by St Andrews began to lose its shape with the raft of second-half substitutions and Dundee made the most of the gaps presented to them. Their third goal came after some neat work on the edge of the area and the fourth came four minutes from time, with the Dundee striker tapping home the rebound after his initial effort was parried.
St Andrews went close with a couple of free kicks in the closing moments and hit the post but in truth they were second best and Dundee were deserved winners.
In the women’s matches, although the first team had a tough go of it, losing 7-0 to Forfar Farmington, the twos managed to secure an impressive 2-1 victory over Dundee.
St Andrews also ran out winners in the other four men’s Varsity games on the day, with the third, fourth, and fifth teams all securing big victories.
In the first two games of the day, the St Andrews fives beat Dundee’s fives 5-0, whilst on the adjacent pitch the St Andrews fours picked up a strong 5-2 victory.
The third XI secured a 4-1 win over their Tayside rivals before the St Andrews second team took to the rubbercrumb for their clash with the Dundee twos in the curtain-raiser for the main Varsity fixture.
The second team implemented a high press from the get-go of their fixture and had much of the opening play without creating a whole host of chances but they took the lead on 14 minutes.
Some nice one-touch play on the edge of the area freed up George Apel, who fired home from 20 yards out for the only goal of the opening period, although Dundee did cause a scare or two when a deflected effort thudded against the crossbar.
St Andrews then doubled their lead on 55 minutes, with Joe Merry converting a penalty after he was scythed down in the area by the Dundee keeper. From that point a Saints victory never looked in doubt, with Dundee offering very little in response. They did get a late consolation after catching St Andrews cold at a corner, but in the end St Andrews ran out comfortable 2-1 winners.
These friendly fixtures will serve as good preparation as Director of Football Stuart Milne and the other members of the footballing coaching staff organise their teams ahead of the start of the new BUCS season.