Elgin City 1-3 Saints (16.7.16)

Saints opened their season this afternoon when they headed North to take on Elgin City for their first match in the revamped Betfred League Cup. Tommy Wright gave competitive debuts to Blair Alston and Keith Watson and other summer recruit started Paul Paton on the bench. While Michael Coulson missed out on a precautionary basis after feeling a strain in training on Friday.

Elgin City are managed by ex-Saints captain Jim Weir and he missed today’s game as he was taking part in an Ironman challenge in Bolton. However, his assistant and former Saints player Gavin Price took charge of the home side for today’s match.

Saints create the first chance of the match on 7 minutes as Steven MacLean slipped the ball to Graham Cummins but home keeper Stewart Black stuck out a foot to deny the striker. 3 minutes later Danny Swanson jinked past a couple of Elgin players before having a shot from the edge of the box which was deflected for a corner. The corner was taken by Liam Craig and his ball into the box found MacLean who flicked a shot wide.

Saints had started the match well and on 14 minutes Blair Alston setup Chris Millar, who was the captain for today’s match, however, he saw his effort go inches past the post.

With quarter of an hour played Elgin City got their first sight of goal as Brian Cameron fired wide.

Saints took the lead on 16 minutes as Danny Swanson curled an effort into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box.

Another Craig corner on 22 minutes found Keith Watson whose diving header looped over Elgin keeper Black and landed on the top of the net.

Alston came close to doubling Saints lead on 26 minutes as his curled effort from just outside the box went wide.

Saints were dominant in the first half and had another effort on goal on 38 minutes as MacLean played the ball to Cummins who unleashed a shot which was pushed behind for a corner by Black. Shortly after a good ball into the box found Cummins however, the Saints striker could not get his header on target.

Elgin got their first corner of the match just before half time however, the Saints defence comfortably cleared their lines as referee Alan Muir blew his header for half time.

4 minutes after the restart Elgin were level as Jamie Duff flicked a Daniel Moore free kick past Zander Clark and into the net.

Following the goal Elgin had a spell a domination and on 51 minutes Craig Gunn unleashed a shot from just outside the box which sailed high and wide of Clark’s goal.

On 59 minutes MacLean setup Craig who shot wide then a minute later a quick throw out from Zander Clark found Swanson who broke forward at pace however, Saints failed to capitalise on the opportunity as Black comfortably dealt with the danger. Shortly after Millar blasted over from the edge of the area as Saints looked for a second goal.

The home side could have taken the lead on 66 minutes as firstly Kyle McLeod saw his effort blocked and the loose ball fell to Shane Sutherland who saw his effort deflected for a corner which was well cleared by Saints.

Home keeper Black made a great one handed save on 69 minutes from a Cummins header and then a minute later Craig headed the ball over from a Cummins cross.

Saints regained the lead on 72 minutes as Millar played in Cummins who rounded the keeper before slotting the ball into the net.

It should have been 3 a minute later as Alston went on a good run to the by-line before cutting the ball back to MacLean who saw his attempt saved by Black. The loose ball then fell to Cummins and his shot was blocked on the line by Matthew Cooper.

Saints further extended their lead with 11 minutes remaining as Alston’s cross from the by-line picked out MacLean who chested the ball into the net for Saints third of the afternoon.

Paul Paton made his competitive debut on 82 minutes when he came on to replace Danny Swanson.

Substitute Craig Thomson went on a good run with a minute remaining before laying it off to Millar who delivered a good ball to Craig in the box who volleyed the ball well over.

It was a well-earned 3 points for Saints this afternoon which leaves them joint top of Group B with Stirling Albion after they defeated Championship side Falkirk 1-0 this afternoon.

Man of the Match: Danny Swanson

Elgin City: Black, Cooper, McPhee, Nicolson, Duff, Reilly (Dodd 77), Gunn, Cameron, McLeod (Smith 77), Sutherland (McLeish 82), Moore Unused Substitutes: Dunn (GK), Reid, Stewart, McHardy Booked: McLeod Scorers: Duff (49)

Saints: Clark, Alston (Thomson 86), Anderson, Millar, MacLean, Swanson (Paton 82), Shaughnessy, Watson, Easton, Craig, Cummins (Kane 75) Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Scobbie, McKay, Hurst Booked: None Scorers: Swanson (16), Cummins (72), MacLean (79)

Referee: Alan Muir

Match Report by Daryl Scott