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Oban Saints were made to dig deep to book their place in the fourth round of the West of Scotland Amateur Cup at a windswept Kilsyth Sports Field last Saturday afternoon. Well organised hosts Kilsyth Community FC Amateurs, who are flying high in Division 1A of the Caledonian League, successfully kept Saints at bay for almost an hour before a deflected Craig MacEwan shot finally turned the tie in Saints favour.
Illness and injury kept Lewis Cameron and Shaun MacIver at home while Craig MacEwan, Fraser MacFarlane and Ruaridh Horne returned to an otherwise unchanged 16-man squad from the Scottish Amateur Cup third win in Forfar two weeks earlier.
Saints kicked off on the bumpy grass surface at Kilsyth Sports Field with a strong bitingly cold wind blowing across the park which would cause problems for both sides.
In the fourth minute Saints skipper Dene Cassells conceded the first of a number of free-kicks in dangerous positions, which on another day may have proved costly, when he clattered into the back of Peter Gribbin 28 yards from goal. Peter Griffin succeeded in lifting the ball over the four man wall but also managed to clear the Saints crossbar by some distance.
Two minutes later at the other end Craig MacEwan turned a dangerous ball across the face of goal after gathering in a Jamie Graham throw-in from the right only to see Kilsyth keeper Derek Keough lift the ball off the toes of James Ford at his near post.
Saints were struggling to get behind the well organised Kilsyth defence and found themselves limited to set pieces which failed to trouble Derek Keough in the home goal.
The first half, where the hosts were the better of the two sides, ended with Dene Cassells forced to concede a corner kick from another quick break and the Saints Skipper heading clear under pressure from opposite number Peter Griffin.
Saints started the second half with an improved sense of purpose and the deadlock was broken in the 58th minute when a goal bound Craig MacEwan shot from the edge of the box took a massive deflection which left Derek Keough flat footed and saw the ball nestle neatly in the bottom corner of the Kilsyth net.
Saints almost doubled their advantage 60 seconds later when Scott Maitland and Donald Campbell combined well on the left for Donald to fire a dangerous ball across the six yard box which narrowly evaded David Beaton coming in at the back post.
As the hosts committed more men forward it was Saints turn to hit on the counter with David Beaton winning a free-kick after being hauled down by Kyle Brown. Beaton exacted his revenge with a delivery into the box which Dene Cassells helped on to Craig MacEwan arriving at the back post. MacEwan’s cushioned left foot ball across the face of goal had Derek Keough scrambling across his line but not quickly enough to prevent Matty Kelly from tapping in from close range after an excellent late run from the edge of the centre circle.
Beaton almost caught out the big keeper at his near post from the resulting corner kick landing his in-swinger from the left on the roof of the net.
Saints rounded off the scoring with just five minutes left on referee Dempster’s watch when Craig MacEwan held his run to remain onside and darted through the inside left channel to reach Matthew Kelly’s measured through ball. MacEwan raced in behind the Kilsyth defence and, from the corner of the six yard box, took out Derek Keough and Ross Whyte with a flicked pass along the six yard line presenting David Beaton with an open goal for his first strike of the season to make the final score 3-0.
Saints return to league business this coming Saturday where they face their biggest test of the season so far in the shape of current Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division leaders St Joseph’s FP. Kick off at Glencruitten is 2pm.