St Cuthbert Wanderers 2, Dalbeattie Star 1
Dalbeattie Star went into this match unbeaten in the league this season.
However, St Cuthbert Wanderers have been the only team to defeat them this term, in a cup tie.
The script was set for a very keenly contested match and that’s exactly how it turned out with the two teams fighting strongly for the points.
The match started evenly but as the first half progressed the home side became more dominant and, although there were chances at both ends, the respective defences stood firm until the 18th minute when a long ball from new Saints central defender John Lowe found Ryan McKie on the right of the Star 18-yard box. McKie ran on strongly to beat keeper Graeme Wright from 12 yards as the ball deceived him as he dived.
Four minutes later, Star had the opportunity to level the game when Jim Kirk pulled down player/manager John McBeth inside the penalty box and they were awarded a penalty. However, Scott Milligan’s spot-kick was superbly saved by keeper Sean Hutchison as he dived to his right to palm the ball away to safety.
The play then began to sway from end to end but the defences were on top until Saints were awarded a corner kick on the left side which was taken by Ian Millar with 34 minutes played. The incoming ball found the head of Roddy Cooksley, who sent the ball to the back post where defender Dean Thomson was lurking to head strongly into the net for goal number two.
There were further chances at both ends before the half-time interval but none which seriously troubled either defence.
Ten minutes after the restart, Saints almost found a third goal when another Millar corner again found Cooksley but his header scraped the wrong side of the Star crossbar. On the hour mark, Cooksley did have the ball in the net but was adjudged by the stand-side assistant referee to have fouled the keeper in the process and it did not stand.
Ten minutes later there was a nasty accidental collision between the Star keeper and Saints’ Colin Carnochan, who was carried from the field and it was later learned that the player had unfortunately broken two bones in his leg.
With 15 minutes left to play McBeth brought out a good save from keeper Hutchison and, as the visitors started to turn the screw, they put Saints defence under immense pressure which saw some fine goal-keeping from Hutchison. There were also at least a couple of goal-line clearances from net-bound efforts. Then, with two minutes left to play, Star were rewarded for their efforts when Lewis Sloan lobbed the ball into the net over the keeper’s head from 20 yards to score a superb goal.
With time added on being played following the injury to Carnochan, Star went all out to find an equaliser and, although they had chances to do so, Saints held out to claim the three valuable points in the knowledge that they had put their Stewartry neighbours to the sword and stopped their unbeaten league record which stretched back over the past two seasons.
This was a very good game which was a fine advert for South football. Although Saints took the points, the Dalbeattie side are still strong favourites to wrap up the league title in their next few matches.