Over the last few months, Uni Park has become somewhat of a fortress for the Men’s 2s football team. Having not afforded a single loss in any of their home games this season, and only one away loss, they’re well on their way to a successful BUCS season. Last Wednesday’s game saw another home win under their belt. Despite a strong first half, the Saints took Dundee to the wire on Wednesday after what should have been an easy victory. It was a cold one, with many other matches being called off due to frozen pitches.
The Mens 2s battled ahead, along with quite an impressive home support. The first half saw the Saints going 2-0 up within the first 45 minutes. The first coming from vice-captain Sonny Innes with a 25 yard, left-footed volley to put the Saints in front. Dundee were struggling to come back and a counter-attack from the Saints, started by Innes who put in Ben Kempley, squaring the ball to Christian Herman to finish and putting the Saints 2-0 up. The half continued with the Saints dominating play yet unable to convert any chances.
As the half drew to a close, a strike from the edge of the box meant Jed Alberts managed to put a third into the back of the net and the Saints ahead by three. In an unusual turn of events, a collision in the Dundee box between the keeper and one of his own defenders saw play being halted from 20 minutes. It was unclear when he initially went down what had happened but it looked serious. Captain Daniel Cohen told the Saints to keep warm, getting a ball onto the pitch to kick around as they waited for play to resume. After around 15 minutes, they lifted him to his feet and escorted him off the pitch. Word made its way around the home support that he was heading to Ninewells with a potential concussion – something I’m sure the keeper himself and the team could have done without. Dundee, clearly not anticipating an injured keeper, hadn’t brought a substitute with them. Using their last sub of the game, their skipper put the gloves on and headed into the net. Despite having a midfielder in goals, the Saints couldn’t manage to put another past Dundee before the half drew to a close.
The second half saw the Saints once again starting strong, but unable to increase their lead. Another chance from Innes, this time in the form of a free-kick was almost spilled by Dundee’s ‘keeper’ but he managed to get a hold of it in time and kept things from getting embarrassing. As play once again moved into Dundee’s box, the Saints were crying out for a handball – a penalty at this later stage of the game would have been useful for the St Andrews side who could have done with a confidence boost. However, Alberts managed to put one past the keeper anyway, but the referee ruled it out for offside, much to the rest of the team’s annoyance – where’s VAR when you really need it? The disallowed goal kept the scoreline at a respectable 3-0, things were looking good for the Saints. Fifteen minutes into the half and Alan Lowe decided to make some changes to his side, bringing off scorer Innes after a spectacular 60 minutes, although it was clear some fresh legs were needed to bring the pace of the game back up to where it was in the first half. A sloppy tackle from defender Cammy Russell in their own box gave away a penalty to Dundee which, at 3-0 down, they weren’t going to miss.
Despite goalkeeper Dan Ross diving the right way, he couldn’t quite get a hand to the ball and it went in. The score was 3-1 yet Dundee were celebrating as if it was an equaliser. A slightly dejected St Andrews side couldn’t quite get their energy back up to return their lead back up to three goals. Dundee managed to win a freekick from the halfway line, chested by one of their outfield players and smacked into the back of the net. Ross again just missing getting a hand to it. 3-2 and the frustration among the Saints was palpable – losing those points was not an option, so they made sure they didn’t.
As Dundee stormed down the pitch once again, the Saints flocked into the box. Dundee tried to finish, but a stunning goal-line clearance from Cohen denied Dundee that crucial equaliser. As play moved back up the pitch, a scuffle between left-back Adam Mahoney and one of the Dundee boys lead to an unjust sending off. Cries from the sidelines and Mahoney himself to no avail and the Saints were down to just 10 men with about 15 minutes left on the clock. Spending the majority of the match as the stronger half, the scoreline was by no means a reflection of the difference in ability of the two sides – the Saints clearly the stronger of the two. Dundee had just found themselves lucky. The 10 men St Andrews side managed to hold out for the remainder of the half, holding onto their unbeaten run at home. For the team, it was a nervy one. For the spectators, it was an incredibly exciting game of football. It seems Dundee’s army couldn’t quite take down the Saints’ fortress.
What’s next for the 2s? A visit from Abertay in the conference cup this week will see them up for the challenge after beating them 5-0 in their last meeting. The team will look to maintain their place at the top of the table, with Aberdeen 3s the team following closely behind with a game in hand. All in all, the remainder of the season is set to be a very successful for the St Andrews side.