Saints fight for a place in Scottish Cup semi-final

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THE LATEST instalment of Oban Saints’ Scottish Amateur Cup adventures takes them this Saturday to the Donald Dewar Centre, Drumchapel, where they will face current Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division leaders Goldenhill in a quarter-final tie. Kick-off is 1.15pm

Goldenhill’s maximum points haul of 24 points from their eight fixtures, coupled with a goal difference of plus 28, makes them most onlookers’ favourites to claim their first ever Premier Division championship trophy.

The Gowdie’s scintillating league form has been repeated in the various cup competitions where only Scottish Amateur Cup draws with Tullibody Community and Sandys, and their solitary defeat of the season so far to Dumbarton Academy FP in the West of Scotland Amateur Cup, has briefly threatened to derail the Gowdie juggernaut.

Recognition for Goldenhill’s impressive displays has come in the form of an international call-up for central midfielder Scott McGuire, who played a key role in the Scottish Amateur Football Association select’s Graham Harkness Memorial Trophy victory over Ireland’s Leinster Senior League at Lesser Hampden last Saturday.

The call-up for McGuire kept Saints waiting another week for their trip to Drumchapel, where they will have to be at their very best if they are keep alive their hopes of a Scottish Amateur Cup final appearance at Hampden Park on Sunday May 20.

Taking charge of proceedings is experienced referee James Gallacher, from Dumbarton. Unlike almost every other cup competition in amateur football, the Scottish Amateur Cup includes replays, therefore a re-match will follow at Glencruitten in seven days if the two sides cannot be separated after 90 minutes.

Following a first round bye, Goldenhill’s Scottish Amateur Cup campaign began with a short hop across the Erskine Bridge to Renfrew to face Newshot.

The hosts hold the distinction of being the last winners of the West of Scotland Amateur Football League before the sad demise of the world’s oldest amateur football league. Unfortunately for the Erskine men, they were no match for Goldenhill and wound up on the wrong end of an 8-2 scoreline.

The third round draw also handed Goldenhill an away tie, this time with a considerably longer journey to Aberdeen to face Division Three title hopefuls Monymusk. The Gowdie boys returned from the chilly north-east with an emphatic 10-0 victory under their belts.

Round four saw Goldenhill bag another 10-goal haul, this time at home to Lothian and Edinburgh FA’s intermediate division title favourites Edinburgh Star.

The Gowdie were on the road again in round five, travelling to Strathclyde Park where Blantyre Celtic of the Central League Division 1B were dispatched 3-1.

The Central Scottish AFL also provided the sixth round opposition where Division 1A Tullibody Community became the first team to hold Goldenhill this season with a 2-2 draw at the Donald Dewar Centre.

The replay seven days later in Clackmannanshire was a far more straight forward affair which saw the Gowdie put five past their hosts without reply to book a seventh round match against Lothian and Edinburgh AFA Premier Division title contenders Sandys.

The seventh round tie against Sandys had all of the thrills and spills which typifies the Scottish Amateur Cup. After snow wiped out the first attempt to play the match at Sandys home park, a waterlogged pitch forced the half-time abandonment of the second attempt seven days later with the home side leading through a Kevin Stewart goal.

Another postponement followed before Sandys tight grass park recovered sufficiently to allow a keenly contested match to proceed where the home side salvaged a late draw to take the tie to a replay in Drumchapel.

Sandys brought a large support to cheer them on at the Donald Dewar Centre on Garscadden Road but it was Goldenhill’s home faithful who were cheering at the end after a hard-fought 3-2 win.

Saints started their Scottish Cup campaign with a 4-0 home win over Mauchline United in the first round thanks to goals from Craig MacEwan (3) and Shaun MacIver.

This was followed by a convincing 6-0 home win against Plains in round two. Donald Campbell (3), Fraser MacFarlane, Scott Maitland and Paul Carmichael were on target for the Oban side.

It took Saints two hard games to get past an impressive Falkirk side in round three, the first game ending in a 3-3 draw at Alva Academy. Donald Campbell (2) and Craig Mac­Ewan were Saints’ scorers. The replay in Oban a week later saw Saints edge through 3-2 thanks to goals from Craig MacEwan, Willie Gemmell and Myles McAuley.

The D & K Lafferty-sponsored Oban side then took on old rivals Greenock High School in the fourth round and came away with a creditable 2-2 draw from Battery Park with a depleted squad.

Bad weather and the festive break meant the replay didn’t take place until Saturday January 6 when manager Alex Craik had a full squad of players to choose from.

The Oban side turned in a top class performance to win 2-0 thanks to goals from Ally McKerracher and Donald Campbell.

The fifth round saw the Oban side travel to take on East Kilbride Rolls Royce and they returned home with a well deserved 4-2 victory thanks to goals from Scott Maitland (2), Myles McAuley and Craig MacEwan.

Kilwinning Sports Club was the venue for the sixth round encounter with Kilbride Thistle and again the Oban side had to come from behind to win a cracking game 3-2 with goals from Craig MacEwan, Donald Campbell and young Daniel MacCuish.

Saints progressed to the quarter-finals of the national competition with a hard-fought 2-0 home win over Yoker United thanks to goals from Donald Campbell and a last-minute penalty from Willie Gemmell.

Saints gaffer Alex Craik watched Goldenhill’s win over Sandys and was very impressed by the Duntocher outfit.

He said: ‘It will be a difficult game for us and all the lads will have to be up for the challenge right from the first whistle.

‘The game will be played at a furious pace and we will have to be ready for everything that Goldenhill throw at us but I’m sure the boys will be ready, and looking forward to try to reach the semi-final for the third year in a row and hopefully go one better by reaching the final at Hampden Park on May 20.’

Scottish Amateur FL results and fixtures

LAST Saturday’s results: Oban Saints no game; Premier Division One – Campbeltown Pupils 2, Port Glasgow 0; Premier Division Two – Lochgilphead Red Star 9, East End United 0; Tarbert 1, Busby 4.
This Saturday’s fixtures: Scottish Amateur Cup quarter final – Goldenhill v Oban Saints, Donald Dewar Sports Centre, kick-off 1.15pm. Premier Division One – Campbeltown Pupils no game; Premier Division Two – Port Glasgow OBU v Lochgilphead Red Star, Tarbert v Cardross.