The St Andrews football Mens 1st XI produced a stirring second-half display against old foes Dundee to convert a 1-0 deficit at half time into a crushing 4-1 victory by the close of play, ensuring they gained the varsity spoils for 2019. Conditions at kickoff couldn’t have been better, with the pitch bathed in glorious late afternoon sun and with several matchups already having concluded and the Womens 1sts and Mens 2nds playing their fixtures nearby, the sense of occasion couldn’t have been higher.
It was an occasion, however, that the Saints initially failed to live up to. The boys struggled to gel, understandable perhaps considering it was their first competitive outing of the year, and were caught lacking on a few occasions as the Dundonians started the brighter of the two teams. The visitors’ bright start was rewarded 20 minutes in when a foul from Matt Irvine on the right hand led to a cross that the Saints failed to clear, with the opponent’s silky forward eventually slotting home. Although it was deserved, the goal was the catalyst that kicked the Saints into action. A mazy run from fullback Iain Wilson saw the ball played to Tyler Gilmore in the box, whose shot was blocked, while a few minutes later a cross from the left nearly found the glancing head of Seb Ratzan. Although Dundee still had their fair share of the chances, St Andrews were beginning to assert themselves. Towards the end of the half, Akira Bowler in particular began to really assert himself in the middle of the park, and you could sense the visitors could not wait for the referee to blow the half-time whistle.
Ultimately when it did come, while the difference in quality between the sides had been negligible, the Saints had been hampered by a lack of understanding between players coupled with some sloppy individual errors which they would look to change in the next 45 minutes. The start of the second half saw the Saints ring the changes. With five substitutions in all, that certainly gave the occasion a preseason feel. It did not hamper the Saints’ momentum though, as back-to-back corners eventually resulted in Findlay Tough heading over from pointblank range. A matter of seconds later though, the Saints made the pressure play. Flynn Gray’s header from a cross was diverted by the keeper straight into the path of Tyler Gilmore, who tapped in for the leveller while Dundee were claiming offside, to no avail. The goal confirmed what the crowd already knew: that the Saints were firmly in the ascendency.
They were now playing with a real verve – a sharp contrast from their nervy first half – with goal scorer Gilmore at the heart of it all. It was only a matter of time then when the 2nd came, Gilmore again hammering in from close range with 20 minutes to go. For 15 minutes the game continued as normal, with Dundee unable to break out. While the Saints had plenty of chances to settle the issue, the clincher eventually came with five minutes to go: Iain Wilson pouncing on a Dundee defensive error and slotting home confidently well inside the box. A fourth goal from distance a few minutes later really rubbed salt into the wound as the visitors, completely overrun and bereft of ideas, couldn’t wait for the final whistle and for the ninety minutes to be over.
When it finally came, the crowd could be in no doubt as to who had been the better side. This was the ideal result for St Andrews to take into the commencing of their BUCS season, while the strong performances of so many subs will no doubt give the coaches a litany of selection headaches ahead of their next clash.