Saturday 3 September 2016, 14.30, New Countess Park
The first round of this year’s DJ Laing East of Scotland Cup takes us to New Countess Park for the first time for Dunbar United versus St Andrews United.
DJ Laing have long sponsored the East of Scotland Cup, which is a knockout tournament for all East Region clubs. The competition dates back to 1896–97 and was won last season by Bo’ness United who beat Dundonald Bluebell at Bathgate’s Creamery Park.
Formed in 1925, Dunbar United currently compete in the East South League. This is two leagues below the Superleague. They hope to make it up to the Premier League at the end of the season.
The Seasiders greatest achievement came in 1961 when they won the Scottish Junior Cup, beating Cambuslang Rangers at Hampden Park.
Dunbar United moved into their purpose built stadium in 2001 within Hallhill Healthy Living Centre. New Countess Park has a shared pavilion for both the football and the rugby club, with their pitches separated by a wall. Dunbar United’s side is fully enclosed and has floodlights. A very neat and tidy ground which had quite a bit of character, unusual for many of the newly built football facilities.
Dunbar have signed defenders Scott Gibb and Wes Mitchell from Musselburgh Athletic, midfielder Scott Devlin from Ormiston and Kevin Lees has returned to the club after leaving previously due to work commitments.
St Andrews United were formed in 1920, although there had been a number of teams playing in the town before then. They’ve spent most of their existence in the Fife Junior League and won it six times. On one of those occasions, in 1960, they also won the Scottish Junior Cup for the only time, beating Cambuslang Rangers in the final at Hampden. The year before today’s opponents’ win.
Restructuring of the East Juniors found St Andrews in the East Premier League for the 2006-07 season. In 2010-11 they won the Premier League title and brought Superleague football to St Andrews for the first time. They were relegated in 2013-14 and have been promoted then relegated each season since then, meaning they are back in the second tier this season.
St Andrews United have signed defenders Lee Duffy and Aiden Hendry and attacker Shaun Keatings from Dundonald Bluebell, Ross Graham, a defender from Montrose, Michael Fleming, a defender from Oakley United, Michael Perrie, and Conor Schiavone, from Lochgelly Albert, Conor Ireland, from Lochee Harp and Lea Schiavone, returned to the club from Thornton Hibs.
Both teams have started the new season well in their respective leagues with Dunbar in third place on maximum points from four games in the East South League and St Andrews in second in the Premier League, with four wins from six and only one defeat.
In the opening minute, St Andrews’ Nutt tried his luck from 40 yards, but his effort was slightly off target, going out for a throw in. We hoped this wasn’t setting the tone for the afternoon.
Tait was the first to shoot for Dunbar, his decent effort from 22 yards comfortably gathered by Cargill in the Saints goal.
Both teams were guilty of a lot of misplaced passes early on, but the home side were grabbing the initiative.
With 10 minutes gone, Dunbar’s Ballantyne did well to get to the byline and cut the ball back for Handling, but instead of shooting, he tried to square the ball to King, who was crowded out.
Devlin’s free kick for Dunbar in 20 minutes was chested down by King, whose shot for goal took a deflection and spun wide of goal.
It’s one of those afternoons in Junior football where there are no officials other than the referee, with a person from each side providing a token linesman to stand on the line with a flag. These club officials’ attention to detail is legendary when performing this role, which was exemplified by the home side’s representative standing on the side where we were. His mate behind the barrier asked him what a free kick had been given for, and the reply was “Dunno. I wasnae watching”.
King of Dunbar and St Andrews’ Perrie squared up to each other in 27 minutes following a challenge, but the referee managed to calm them down without flashing any cards.
In 33 minutes, Ballantyne latched onto a loose ball on the left and cut inside, before unleashing a shot at the Saints’ goal which Cargill did very well to turn over the bar.
St Andrews broke down the right in 39 minutes and the ball into the middle was aimed at Nutt, but McCathie collected the cross.
A bad tackle from behind by Saints’ Schiavone in 43 minutes saw him pick up the game’s second booking (Ballantyne receiving one for dissent).
The second half started with our linesman friend patrolling the line with his flag in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
Two minutes into the second period, Sibanda struck a free kick from 40 yards at the Dunbar goal. He hit it very well, but McCathie managed to turn it over the bar.
There was a good chance for Devlin in the box in 55 minutes, but he didn’t make good contact with the ball when he found himself in space in the St Andrews’ box.
A high bouncing ball into St Andrews’ box in 59 minutes almost caught out Cargill, but he just managed to reach it to prevent it going over his head.
In 67 minutes, Tait made a great clearing header after a St Andrews’ free kick was headed back across goal. Without his touch it would have been a certain goal.
A turn and shot by Dunbar’s King in 72 minutes almost brought the breakthrough, but Cargill saved at full stretch.
St Andrews had the better of the second half after Dunbar bossing the first, but the game was petering out as the second half progressed, with bookings being the only real things of note.
With two minutes left, Dunbar’s King passed the ball through to Grant running into the box. His shot across the keeper was going wide of the post, but substitute Young raced in to tap the ball into the net for what would have been a certain winner, but he somehow managed to put the ball wide when it looked easier to score.
There was still time for a dramatic end when Sibanda went down in the Dunbar box, but despite it looking like he might have been caught, the referee waved away the appeals.
With no extra time in this competition, it was straight to penalties.
- St Andrews took theirs first and Duffy scored despite McCathie getting a hand to it. 1-0;
- Dunbar’s Duffy sent Cargill the wrong way 1-1;
- Saints’ Connor Schiavone, who I didn’t spot coming on as sub, put his right in the corner, despite the keeper going the right way 2-1;
- Dunbar’s Hogg then hit the bar 2-1;
- Saints’ Hendry put his right in the top corner 3-1;
- Dunbar’s Moffat had his penalty saved 3-1;
- Saints’ Perrie, to win it, saw McCathie touch the ball onto the post 3-1;
- Dunbar’s Kean kept the shoot-out going 3-2;
- Saints’ Sibanda hit his straight down the middle to win it for his team 4-2.
There didn’t look to be a league between the teams and Dunbar were unfortunate to go out.
Devlin and King controlled the first half from Dunbar’s midfield and their lack of mobility was countered by the home side’s forward players’ work rate. Handling and Ballantyne were very prominent in the first half, with Handling good on the ball, although he sometimes tried to beat one too many. Tait also looked a solid defender.
Cargill was excellent in the Saints goal and Lea Schiavone worked hard to try and bring his team into the game.
The referee seemed to upset both sets of players and booked four from each side, five of which were for dissent. He did play a good advantage in the second half before going back to book King for a late tackle.
Kudos to Dunbar for putting up a board with the names and numbers of both teams prior to the game. I wish all teams did this.
Full Time: Dunbar United 0 St Andrews United 0 (St Andrews won 4-2 on penalties)
Dunbar United: 1 Liam McCathie, 2 Steven Kean, 3 Steven Tait, 4 Wes Mitchell, 5 Scott Gibson, 6 Chris Moffat, 7 Darren Handling, 8 Scott Devlin (Hogg 73), 9 Dean Ballantyne (Young 68), 10 Chris King, 11 Chris Grant. Subs: 12 Sam Young, 14 Chris Hogg, 15 Kevin Smith, 16 Ano Subasic, 17 Connor Pont.
St Andrews United: 12 Richard Cargill, 15 Graeme Nutt, 3 Michael Perrie, 4 Ryan McInnes, 5 Lee Duffy, 6 Craig Wedderburn, 7 Barry Sibanda, 21 Aiden Hendry, 9 Lea Schiavone (Ireland 73), 20 Ross Graham, 11 Sam Buchan (Falconer 58) . Subs: 16 Daryl Falconer, 1 Shaun Hunter, 8 Connor Ireland, 14 Josh McPhie, 19 Connor Schiavone
Referee: Colin Whyte