Perhaps the only fixture that sets the blood boiling more than a visit from Dundee, is when a St Andrews team has a game against one of their own. On a bleak Wednesday afternoon, there was certainly no love lost between the two sides as the Mens 4th XI faced the Mens 6th XI. Despite being a very green team, especially compared to the 4ths who have only one Bejant, the 6ths were still able to field a strong side. From the first touch of the ball, the supposedly lower team’s game plan was clear, to find the danger man, James Luk, who proved to be a handful down the left flank.
The opening period saw the 4ths withstand a flurry of attacks with some frantic defending required to keep the scores level. Having shrugged off those initial blows, the 4ths’ executed a swift riposte as Jack Dunne left a scorched streak on the grass, annihilating his marker with pace before zipping in a cross to Daniel Boulton-Jones who cut in past his man and forced a fine save from the imposing Alex Phillips. Phillips was soon needed again as the 4ths striker, Solomon Childs, forced a superb low save from the edge of the box. Childs needed to adjust his laces after his next effort, however, which terrified a few DRA residents as the ball launched over the crossbar, but it did little to trouble the 6th’s keeper.
The height of Max James and Josh Witzmann proved invaluable for the 4ths as they confidently dealt with the speculative balls from the 6th’s defenders. Uproar then ensued as a 6ths player took a tumble in the opposing penalty area however the referee waved away the indignant protests and judged there not to have been a foul. After two sets of rousing half-time team talks, the 6ths’ bench was again bemoaning their luck as 4ths’ centre back Sverrir Sigthorsson made a fantastic clearance but then collided with the 6ths’ striker inside his box. Once again, the referee correctly ruled in favour of the 4ths. But, with their earlier calmness lost, the 4ths once again entered a tough spell which culminated in Faysal Kharraz sliding in at the back post to put the 6ths 1-0 up with 30 minutes to go, prompting wild celebrations from their bench.
Goalkeeper of the 4ths, Nick Lightfoot, who was looking fresh despite the head injury he suffered last week against St Andrews 5ths, charged bravely off his line to deny the skillful Andrew Vettraino. Man of the Match, Jack Dunne, was once again at the heart of things as he collected Tom Mckeown’s low cross but was unable to turn to have a shot on goal. The 4ths began to then turn on the style as they sought an equaliser with midfield stalwart Benji Collett sending Dunne through once again, although his shot just drifted wide. With 10 minutes to go, Collett looked to continue his good form this season from set pieces as he floated a free kick into the box which 6ths’ goalie Phillips held but carried into his own post, prompting the 4ths players to appeal that the ball had crossed the line.
Despite Director of Football, Stuart Milne, having been seen prowling the touchline with a camera, the VAR system was sadly not available for this incident and the referee ruled that it had not crossed. Even with the protests from the touchline, the 6ths were clearly happy with their 1-0 lead and looked to run down the clock with all sorts of guileful machinations. However, with the full time almost upon us, Sigthorsson coaxed a delightful ball through the 6ths defence to Childs, who, despite his best efforts, managed to get past the goalie and then hook the ball into the net to level the scores and secure his first goal of the season.
Full time swiftly followed, and the players had to reflect on a scrappy match played out in unfavourable conditions which had only awarded a solitary point to each side. Despite the bruises and harsh words, amicable relations resumed with the full-time whistle and both teams will now look to excitedly challenge one another for the top spot in their BUCS division.