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Oban Saints had their hopes of a Scottish Amateur Cup final appearance crushed by holders Colville Park at New Douglas Park, Hamilton, last Saturday.
For the second year running, the Scottish Cup adventure came to an end at the semi-final stage with a frustrated Saints contingent once again feeling they could and should have done better.
Despite taking a deserved first half lead, Saints couldn’t hold out against their vastly experienced opponents, conceding two sloppy goals before finally succumbing to a killer third goal from Scottish amateur international striker David McKay.
Saints kicked off attacking the north stand of the Superseal Stadium but quickly conceded possession with Dene Cassells having to remain strong to see out a Stephen McDevitt long ball looking for James Miller. Miller was again the target on the Colville right in the second minute where Scott Maitland made the block to concede the first corner kick of the match.
In the ninth minute, Colville central defender James Mulvay came in late on Craig MacEwan midway inside the Colville half with referee Ross Holms content to give Mulvay a warning rather than issue a caution. Willie Gemmell’s free kick was headed clear by Mulvay who together with Thomas Airlie and Kenny Marshall made up a solid back three for the Motherwell men.
Myles McAuley made a driving run from midfield in the 12th minute, making good progress on the left before the combined attentions of Mulvay, McDevitt and Paul McLaughlin forced the ball out for a throw-in. Saints kept the pressure on from Scott Maitland’s throw with Brian Mackay working the ball across to the overlapping David McArthur who fired in a low shot which Ryan Ward did well to turn round his left hand post for a Saints corner.
It was Ward to the rescue again for the cup holders from Willie Gemmell’s corner kick. Jamie Bradley forced the ball out to the edge of the box which Donald Campbell retrieved and linked up with Myles McAuley and Brian Mackay to create another shooting opportunity. Space opened up for Donald 16-yards from goal but his curling right foot shot was well held by the Colville keeper diving to his left.
Saints continued their good spell with David McArthur’s run up the right touchline being halted illegally by Jamie Bradley. Willie Gemmell’s free-kick was again headed out, this time to the right, where Craig MacEwan tried to trick his way along the bye-line and into the box. Craig got past Thomas Airlie and was scythed down just inside the box by James Mulvay but Mr Holms spotted a shirt pull by Craig on Mulvay and gave the decision in favour of the big Colville defender.
Colville had the ball in the net in the 20th minute but were denied by an offside flag. Donald Campbell pulled back James Miller midway inside the Saints half giving dead ball expert Darren Miller an opportunity to put the ball into the danger area. Miller’s deep cross found the head of Jamie Bradley whose downward header was tucked away from six yards by Paul McLaughlin who, fortunately for Saints, was flagged offside by the stand side assistant referee.
Saints took the lead on the half hour mark from a long Thomas McCulloch free-kick after James Miller had been penalised for a shirt pull on Scott Maitland.
McCulloch’s long ball from level with his 18-yard line wide on the left was knocked on by Paul Carmichael to Craig MacEwan. Craig held off challenges from Kenny Marshall and James Mulvay before finding Donald Campbell 25-yards from goal. Donald threaded an excellent first time pass to Paul Carmichael in the inside left channel who timed his run to perfection to beat Thomas Airlie’s claims for an offside flag. Paul raced into the box and lifted the ball left footed from ten yards over the advancing Ryan Ward and into the roof of the net to edge Saints in front.
Colville tried to hit back straight from the restart with James Miller lifting a decent effort from 18- yards over Thomas McCulloch and onto the roof of the Saints net. Then a looping Stephen McDeviit header from the centre circle sent Paul McLaughlin racing through the middle with Dene Cassells for company. After a good tussle, McLaughlin went sprawling just outside the Saints’ box, but not before he had been penalised for a shirt pull on the Saints central defender. There was an anxious moment for Saints as referee Holms consulted his assistant who appeared to have flagged in favour of Colville. However, Mr Holms was happy to let his initial decision stand.
Saints were caught out in the 42nd minute when trying to play the ball out from the back after another deep free-kick, this time from James Mulvay. David McArthur played a risky ball to Brian Mackay who was robbed by Jamie Bradley coming in on the blindside. Bradley played a one-two with Christopher Craig and picked out Paul McLaughlin in space inside the box. McLaughlin turned well and tucked a neat finish inside Thomas McCulloch’s right hand post to bring the cup holders level. This was a bitter blow for Saints to concede such a sloppy goal undoing a good first half performance, however, full credit to Colville who ruthlessly exploited the slip-up.
After five second half minutes, Paul Carmichael won a free-kick wide on the Saints left and ten yards inside the Colville half. Brian Mackay peeled off to the left to accept Willie Gemmell’s free-kick and quickly returned the ball to Willie 25-yards out who, from a promising position, didn’t get hold of his shot and sent a tame effort well wide of target. In the 58th minute, after breaking up a Colville attack, Saints built a good passing move through the middle. Myles McAuley linked up with Brian Mackay who rolled the ball up to Paul Carmichael 12-yards inside the Colville half. Paul held the ball up well and laid off to Craig MacEwan who lofted a ball forward looking for Brian Mackay who had continued his run. Unfortunately Craig’s pass was too heavy and skipped away from Brian and safely through to Ryan Ward in the Colville goal.
In the 63rd minute, Brian Mackay robbed James Mulvay eight yards inside the Saints half and wide on the left. Mackay sent Paul Carmichael racing through the inside left channel with Kenny Marshall and Garry Tierney in pursuit. Marshall forced Paul wide who couldn’t get a shot away and a great chance was lost.
With 20 minutes remaining, Saints manager Alex Craik made his first substitution, bringing on Matthew Kelly to replace Brian Mackay.
Disaster struck for Saints in the 72nd minute when a bizarre own goal gave Colville a massive slice of good fortune that they could scarcely believe. A Willie Gemmell free kick from just inside the Saints half was too heavy for Paul Carmichael and bounced harmlessly through to Ryan Ward. The Colville keeper launched a kick from hands upfield and, after some head tennis in the centre circle, Colville worked the ball out to James Miller on the left. Miller lifted the ball over the head of David McArthur and into the Saints box for Jamie Bradley who got there just before Scott Maitland and flicked the ball past Thomas McCulloch on the six yard line. The ball trundled towards the goal line with Dene Cassell’s looking set to clear the danger. However, Dene’s hooked clearance cannoned off Myles McAuley and into the net leaving both incredulous and Saints staring down the barrel.
From the restart, Willie Gemmell sent a long ball from the centre circle looking for Donald Campbell on the right. Donald was crowded out by Garry Tierney and James Miller who received a rap on the ankle for his troubles which earned Donald a yellow card which would eventually prove costly.
Things went from bad to worse for Saints in the 75th minute when Myles McAuley was harshly penalised for handball when the ball appeared to strike him on the chest. Darren Miller rolled the ball out to Stephen McDevitt on the right who lofted a diagonal ball from 30-yards into the Saints box. Deadly striker David McKay got in between David McArthur and Marc Maccallum and from 12 yards guided a perfect header inside Thomas McCulloch’s left hand post to stretch Colville’s advantage and leave Saints facing a monumental task to get back into the game.
Saints freshened things up by withdrawing Willie Gemmell and introducing Ross Maitland on the right wing with Donald Campbell dropping back into midfield. Colville also rang the changes with Stephen Burden coming on to replace James Miller. With nine minutes remaining, Saints manager Alex Craik replaced Paul Carmichael with Dean Smith.
The game was up for Saints when they lost the services of Donald Campbell with five minutes of normal time remaining. Donald took exception to a flying elbow from Jamie Bradley when the pair contested an aerial joust on the edge of the centre circle. Referee Holms had an excellent view of the incident but didn’t see anything wrong with Bradley’s challenge. Mr Holms also had a clear view of Donald’s retaliatory two-handed shove into the chest of Bradley and promptly produced a second yellow card for Donald.
Colville were content to run down the clock and record a deserved 3-1 win and make it to their second Scottish Amateur Cup final in two years.
Saints secretary David Buchanan said: ‘The boys are very disappointed but what an achievement it has been for the club, and the town of Oban, for this group of players along with manager Alex Craik and his coaches to have reached the semi-final of the Scottish Amateur Cup two years in succession. This year’s competition started with 573 teams so it’s been a tremendous achievement and everyone involved deserves credit. We were beaten by a better team on the day and we wish Colville all the best in the final.’
Saints remain on cup duty this Saturday when they welcome Port Glasgow to Glencruitten in the quarter-finals of the Jimmy Marshall Trophy. Kick-off is 2pm with referee John Stobo in charge.