The Achilles heel of every St Andrews team is their performances away against Aberdeen; the combination of the journey, poor playing surface and frustrating opposition never bode well for our fine sportsmen. Nonetheless, the iconic Quatros (Men’s 4s) attempted to break this curse with an extremely gutsy performance.
On a pitch which was somehow both frozen and boggy in areas, the Quatros demonstrated their positive intent from the first whistle. Sonny Childs, the talismanic glass-ankled striker with a blue headband to match his kit, linked up well with Jack Dunne and drove at the Aberdeen defence, panicking them and winning a throw. Euan Macdonald, playing his first game since breaking his leg, showed no hesitation whatsoever as he bravely launched himself into every tackle and, more often than not, came out on top, anchoring down the left side of the Quatros’ defence. Aberdeen, clearly expecting us to be bleary-eyed from the journey, were taken by surprise as Daniel Boulton-Jones performed a roulette to bamboozle their midfielders and was then hacked down winning a free-kick. Man-of-the-match Max James demonstrated the merits of his Cricket S&C sessions as he used his strength and close control to advance 20 yards down the left wing before cutting inside to cross to Dunne who was brought down to win a penalty. Dunne was sadly betrayed by the dreadful playing surface and shot it wide, however, he once again demonstrated the undying spirit of the Quatros as, next time he received the ball, he burst past his man, the miss not affecting anyone’s desire for victory.
The character of the opposition was again on display as Boulton-Jones was again brought down before Sonny was elbowed to win another free-kick which was placed into a fantastic area but incorrectly given as offside by the unenthusiastic referee. Goalkeeper Thomas Tunstall, making his first start after Nick Lightfoot was poached by the 1s, did well to hold a shot from the edge of our box before demonstrating his passing range by sending Dunne through behind the defence before he was, again, fouled. Long-throw-specialist Jono Mizrahi then did brilliantly to control another long aerial pass from Tunstall before starting another attack. James fought hard again for his man-of-the-match title as he jumped well to clear a corner at our front post and was then involved again as he floated a ball through to Sonny who couldn’t quite catch up to it. The dynamic front three of Dunne, Boulton-Jones and Sonny were involved again as the former two linked up before then crossing it to Sonny, requiring a good clearance from the Aberdeen defenders. Their goalkeeper was then called into action as he jumped twice to catch high balls under challenges from Dunne and the dependable Sverrir Sigthorsson and, to his credit, held both well.
In their one genuine attack of the match, a cross from our left was pushed out by Tunstall but they then scored the rebound, securing a very undeserved lead. Tunstall wasn’t affected by their goal however as he then charged out to make a fantastic double save, throwing his body in the way of the shot, during their next attack. The ever-threatening Benji Collett then found a little bit of space on the edge of the Aberdeen box and shot to the bottom right although their goalkeeper held it well. Captain Ali Robinson leapt high to then clear another speculative corner from the opposition before the halftime whistle blew, prompting a rousing team talk from coach James Fitzpatrick who reminded the boys of their dominance in the first half and the whole team could sense a comeback was definitely possible. Boulton-Jones started the half well as he took a succession of powerful shots, one flying just over and the other forcing a good save. Dunne once again drove past the Aberdeen defence before passing it on to Boulton-Jones who once again shot from the edge, getting closer and closer to the goal the Quatros so thoroughly deserved. Tunstall then became a sweeper-keeper as he raced off his line to meet a through ball and kneed it over the attacker before passing it on. Our courageous defender Josh Witzmann flew into a tackle on the halfway line and roused the Quatros for another push against the Aberdeen goal.
A whistle as substitute Arthur Dingemans raced back from halfway to tackle the Aberdeen striker, with the Saints defence having been attacking at the other end, and passed to Tunstall who was then himself tackled but the shot fortunately hit the side netting, seeing the match end at a very undeserved 1-0 to Aberdeen. Despite the loss, however, the Quatros team spirit and camaraderie was on full display and the whole team was worthy of praise for their performance which, as is often the case in football, didn’t get the result it deserved.