An away PMAC Superleague match was the opening 2015 fixture for Banchory, and wind and flurries of snow made conditions difficult.
However, some good football was on show despite this.
Hall Russell had the best of the opening 10 minutes and the first opportunity to open the scoring when Josh Robertson lost control, but the home centre blazed well over the bar. Two half chances for either side followed before the home side went close with a low shot that scraped past the Saints’ post.
Banchory got their first corner after 23 minutes which proved no threat but then followed quickly with two more as they began to force the issue. Jack Henderson’s quick turn and shot went just past and then, from another corner, Darren Pyper’s volley did the same.
A good move down the left saw Ben McGregor’s angled shot palmed away by the home keeper, but Hall’s Pete Shaw forced a corner from his deflected shot with five minutes remaining of the first half.
The final minutes saw chances at both ends.
A Hall Russell quick break caused panic in the Banchory defence, then Fraser Mackie appeared to be in on goal but he was forced wide with his parting shot going over the bar.
Ben McGregor had a great chance eight yards out but shot straight at the home keeper.
Right on half time, a Hall’s corner was headed up into the air and with Blair McIntosh electing to punch the ball he only succeeded in directing it right to the feet of a home midfielder on the touch line who then took one touch and fired a spectacular shot high into the roof of the net.
Into the second half and it only took two minutes for Banchory to equalise. Mackie was put in the clear through the middle and unselfishly squared to Ben McGregor who took his time to fie low past the home keeper.
Hall’s retaliated moments later and went close with a low shot shaving the base of the Saints’ post.
McGregor and Mackie were combining well and, from the former’s cross, Mackie’s shot was deflected for a corner.
Hall’s had a half chance minutes later but it was Banchory who were looking the more likely to take the lead. Mackie was in the clear again but forced wide with his parting shot being deflected only for Scott Davie‘s shot to then be deflected past.
Another McGregor move down the left ended with him shooting past.
After 61 minutes, yet another break on the left found McGregor who skipped past a defender, cut the ball back and found Mackie who placed the ball well past the home keeper.
Unfortunately, the referee declared Mackie offside.
From the free kick, Hall Russell went up the other end with number seven firing in a shot that McIntosh could only parry and, with a home forward standing in what appeared to be an offside position from the initial shot, side-footing into the net. It wasn’t offside according to the referee.
Undeterred by this set back, Saints remained on top - playing some good football - and it paid off on the 74th minute when Pyper threaded a ball through to Mackie for the centre to flick the ball over the advancing ‘keeper.
The game should have been won by Banchory with two further gilt-edged chances passed up.
Firstly, a vicious cross from McGregor was met by Mackie but the ball came so fast he could not control his header and it went well over the bar from six yards.
Then a Ryan Whelan flick found McGregor whose cross once again found Mackie two yards out but this time he completely missed the ball when a goal seemed certain. The last chance fell to Danny Casey who shot wide from a good position.
Overall, it was a good performance from Banchory that deserved all three points and, with other results being favourable, maintains a strong sixth position in the league.
Team: Blair McIntosh, Robbie Casey, Magnus Barclay, Darren Reid, Josh Robertson, Danny Casey, Jack Henderson (Ryan Whelan), Darren Pyper, Fraser Mackie, Scott Davie (Stuart Rogie), Ben McGregor.
This Saturday,January 17, will be the first home game since November 8 last year. Top of the league Banks O’Dee will visit Milton Park for a league match’ kick off 1.30pm.
The following Saturday, Hermes will also travel to Milton Park for a 1.30pm kick off.