Hat-trick hero Munro on the spot for Saints to see off visitors Sunnybank
Banchory St Ternan made Sunnybank pay the penalty in their first home league game of the season, scoring twice from the spot.
Grant Munro was the hero at Milton Park as he grabbed all three goals for Saints, who had missed an earlier penalty.
Saints captain Steve Travers returned after a two-game suspension and Darren Reid came back in at right back, having missed the previous week’s game. However, left back Greg Smith was still absent due to a foot injury which could keep him out for up to six weeks.
Saints opened well and went very close after seven minutes when Mark Reid’s flick shaved the post, and moments later Travers’ looping header was easily saved by the Bank keeper.
A good flowing move on 12 minutes ended with a low cross flashing across the six- yard box with no takers.
Saints continued to push forward and were rewarded with a penalty on 15 minutes when Munro was brought down just inside the box. Travers stepped up but his spot kick was saved by the Bank keeper.
This was the catalyst that the visitors needed to up their game. Ross Salmon had to look lively to palm away a vicious cross on 20 minutes. Five minutes later, though, Bank took the lead when a 25-yard free kick was well saved by Salmon, but a Bank forward beat Josh Robertson to the rebound to bundle the ball over the line.
Sunnybank’s lead only lasted three minutes. Salmon sent a long ball down the left, with Mark Reid passing to Munro for the midfielder’s half-hit shot to find its way into the corner of the net.
It could have been 2-1 Saints on 30 minutes when a pass back was intercepted by Mark Reid but the young striker’s first-time low shot was saved by the keeper’s legs.
The final 15 minutes of the first half saw few chances for either side.
At the re-start, Calum Wilson replaced the injured Craig Peters.
Sunnybank went very close two minutes in when Aaron Thomson half-cleared and was relieved to see a shot go just over the bar. But three minutes later Saints were awarded a second penalty when Munro was tripped a yard inside the box and took over the responsibility to place the spot kick into the corner of the net.
Sunnybank retaliated with a corner being headed over the bar, followed by Thomson having to block a netbound shot. But there were shouts of disbelief from the Sunnybank players and officials on 55 minutes when the referee awarded a third penalty to Saints when Jordan Clark was pushed inside the box. Up stepped Munro to dispatch the ball into the same corner for his hat-trick and 3-1 to the Saints.
It was fast and furious stuff now with Bank almost reducing the leeway when an angled shot from the left was tipped onto the bar by Salmon. And on 63 minutes a free header was headed down from a free kick and flicked past a post by a Bank forward.
With 15 minutes remaining the hard-working Mark Reid was replaced by Ben Ross and five minutes later young Adam Reid came on for Travers.
Neither side had any clear- cut chances in the closing minutes and the three points pushes Saints into fourth place in Division 1, one point behind the leaders, with a game in hand over the teams around them.
Manager Ewan Robb said: “After two weeks on our travels it was nice to get a home game and play on a decent surface, and after last week’s fiasco, even nicer to get the three points against a Sunnybank side who have went so close to getting out of this league on a few occasions.
“Sunnybank have some really good players who’ll hurt you, given the chance. I felt we played well without really getting anywhere near the levels I’ve seen us play. We didn’t move the ball quick enough, maybe due to the hot day making the pitch a bit sticky.
“While everyone gave their all, I thought Aaron [Thomson] and Conran [Wilson] at the back were immense. Stevo [Travers] in that holding role breaks things up and starts attacks.
“Mark [Reid’s] overall play up front on his own is brilliant and Grant [Munro] is always a threat in that attacking midfield role.
“We have a wee break in the league now with two cup games before we welcome Stoneywood back to Milton.”
Banchory: Ross Salmon, Darren Reid, Conran Wilson, Aaron Thomson, Josh Robertson, Steve Young, Craig Peters (Calum Wilson), Steve Travers (Adam Reid), Mark Reid (Ben Ross), Grant Munro, Jordan Clark. Subs: Greg Mackie, Euan Rose.
Banchory are at home again on Saturday in the first round of the Domino’s Pizza Regional Cup against Superleague side Colony Park (2pm).