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After labouring somewhat in their first two Central Scottish Amateur Football League Division 1B fixtures, Oban Saints finally clicked into gear against Clydebank AFC at Glencruitten last Saturday afternoon.
Keeping up a high tempo from the first whistle, Saints gave their goal difference a substantial boost, rattling in nine goals without reply in a polished all round performance which kept the Glencruitten faithful richly entertained throughout the 90 minutes.
Already without the unavailable Myles McAuley, Saints management duo of Donald Campbell and Willie Gemmell were dealt a further blow when Dean Smith was forced to withdraw from the squad at the eleventh hour.
The late changes meant places on the substitutes bench for both co-managers alongside Daniel Croarkin, James Ford and Ross Maitland.
Saints put pressure on the Bankies right from the start and this paid off when Lewis Cameron slipped Cammy Hill through on goal with the big striker side-footing a low finish into the net past the advancing Andrew Cameron.
After hooking a 20-yard effort over the crossbar, David Beaton doubled Saints advantage in the 14th minute, reacting quickly to tuck away the loose ball after a Craig MacEwan shot had been blocked by Darren Murray.
Cammy Hill outpaced the Bankies defence to reach a 22nd-minute Kerr Newbigging flick-on and take Saints’ goal tally to three. Hill kept his composure to round the exposed Andrew Cameron before tapping home a composed left-foot finish from close range.
A mistimed Ian Huggan sliding challenge on Cammy Hill inside the Bankies box gave referee Tom Cavanagh an easy decision to make in awarding Saints a 38th-minute penalty kick. Andrew Cameron got down well to his left to push away Lewis Cameron’s spot kick and was quickly up on his feet to save Cameron’s second effort on the rebound and complete an excellent double save.
A 42nd-minute driving run through the inside left channel from Craig MacEwan had the Bankies defence on the back foot. MacEwan’s pass inside found Cammy Hill who in turn picked out Lewis Cameron for a shot on goal. Cameron’s effort was blocked and sent wide of target but Matty Kelly kept the move alive and cut the ball back from the left for Craig MacEwan to lift over Andrew Cameron for Saints fourth goal.
A rare breakaway on the right from Clydebank’s Jamie Pollock was snuffed out when Kerr Newbigging, who had a good game in front of the back four, got back to help captain Dene Cassells see off the danger before referee Tom Cavanagh sounded the half-time whistle.
Saints went further in front when Ruaridh Horne had the Bankies defence back-pedalling and his cross to the back post picked out Craig MacEwan. MacEwan’s Bergkamp-esque exquisite first touch to control Horne’s cross took him away from the advancing Andrew Cameron and opened up the space for him to roll the ball into the empty net for a wonderful goal that will linger long in the memories of the Glencruitten faithful.
Last season’s top scorer Lewis Cameron made up for his earlier penalty miss, notching Saints sixth goal on the half-hour mark. Matty Kelly provided his second assist of the afternoon, picking out Cameron for a crisply struck shot across his namesake in the Bankies goal which nestled neatly in the bottom corner of the net.
This was the cue for Ross Maitland, who has been in impressive form with Saints’ second team, to make his return to the first eleven.
Also making a return after a long absence was co-manager Donald Campbell, who has been out of action since being stretchered off during last season’s West of Scotland Cup semi-final. Campbell took Cammy Hill’s place up front.
James Ford curled a left-foot effort wide of Andrew Cameron’s right-hand post before Donald Campbell added a seventh goal in the 80th minute. Campbell read the bounce of the spinning ball perfectly after a Matty Kelly shot had been partially blocked and volleyed past the helpless Andrew Cameron from close range.
The evergreen Ross Maitland latched onto a Donald Campbell through ball to slam home goal number eight.
Maitland, who has been turning on the style for Saints since before some of the current crop of players were born, thumped home another excellent 22-yard finish to make the final score 9-0.
This coming Saturday Saints take their 100% league record to Scotstoun Sports Campus where they will face Stedfast K who finished last season’s Division 1A in fourth place just one point short of a place in the play-offs for promotion to the Premier Division.
Saints GG team were also in action on Saturday in a League Cup match and the squad returned home with 1-1 draw under their belts against Calderglen thanks to a Cammy Kerr goal.
Only a last gasp goal from the home side denied Saints a victory.
The team are at home to Glenvale in a Division 3 league match on Saturday.