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Two typically crisp strikes from Donald Campbell helped Saints past a stuffy Westerlands side, who gave a good account of themselves throughout, and into the fourth round of the Scottish Amateur Cup at a damp Garscube Sports Complex last Saturday afternoon.
Also on the score sheet for Saints against the Caledonian League First Division promotion chasers were captain Dene Cassells, who showed the strikers how to dispatch a penalty kick, and the evergreen Ross Maitland who wrapped up a 4-1 victory with his first touch after coming on as a second half substitute.
Co-managers Donald Campbell and Willie Gemmell were deprived of the services of Graham Douglas, Cammy Hill and Matt Rippon who all dropped out of the squad from the previous week’s home league win over Garrowhill Thistle. Coming in to join the travelling party were able deputies Murdo MacKenzie, James Ford and Ross Maitland.
Westerlands, with Obanites Elliot Dougall and Liam MacIntyre in their ranks, kicked off on the narrow grass park on the banks of the river Kelvin which was in remarkably good condition given the recent heavy rain.
Saints started brightly with Ruaridh Horne sending a tempting second-minute cross into the box looking for Donald Campbell which Calum Windram did well to head away and Caledonian League Select goalkeeper Blair Haldane showing good reactions getting down to his left to push away a Lewis Cameron shot from 18 yards 60 seconds later
Saints were enjoying the majority of the possession but were finding the Westerlands defence, with Liam MacIntyre at it’s heart, a difficult nut to crack until a stroke of good fortune in the 27th minute.
Lewis Cameron’s cross from the right edge of the penalty area hit the outstretched hand of Gavin Edwards which, although unfortunate for the big central defender, was correctly ruled as a penalty kick by referee Ian Hamilton who handled proceedings well throughout.
With Donald Campbell and Lewis Cameron both having had mixed results from the penalty spot in recent weeks captain Dene Cassells decided to show the strikers how it should be done and smashed an emphatic spot kick past Blair Haldane to open the scoring.
The lead lasted barely 60 seconds as Calum McCrossan pounced on a rare slip by Ruaridh Horne, who produced an otherwise steady performance at right back, and poked a good finish underneath the advancing Murdo MacKenzie to draw the hosts level.
Saints responded with a Donald Campbell shot after good link up play by Scott Maitland, Lewis Cameron and Matty Kelly. The three must have impressed Central Scottish League Select manager Colin Hamilton and Scottish Amateur FA International gaffer Colin MacLeod who were both in attendance.
Saints ended the half on the front foot with Ruaridh Horne winning a corner kick which Blair Haldane did well to hold under pressure from Craig MacEwan before referee Hamilton blew for half-time.
The interval did little to derail the Saints momentum and five minutes after the restart their endeavour was rewarded with a second goal.
Scott Maitland made good ground on the left and rolled the ball up to Craig MacEwan on the the edge of the box who tee’d up Donald Campbell with a delightful lay-off which the co-gaffer thumped across Blair Haldane into the far corner of the net.
Last season’s top goal scorer Lewis Cameron came within a few inches of ending his mini goal drought when he sent a free-kick just wide of Blair Haldane’s left hand post after Liam MacIntyre had bundled him over 24 yards from goal.
Saints doubled their advantage in the 57th minute when Donald Campbell met David Beaton’s cross perfectly on the half volley sending his right foot strike flying past Blair Haldane after Beaton and Ruaridh Horne had linked up well on the right. Westerlands kept up their pursuit of an avenue back into the match and were denied a second goal by a fine save from Murdo MacKenzie after Grant MacFarlane prodded a loose ball goalwards as Saints struggled to clear a long free-kick from just inside their own half.
Both sides made changes with 25 minutes remaining with Ewan Dempster replacing Grant MacFarlane for the hosts and Ross Maitland coming on to make a telling contributions at the expense of David Beaton who had put in another good shift on the Saints right.
Maitland’s introduction produced instant results when the evergreen winger in his 23rd Saints season slammed the ball into the roof of the net from 14 yards after Blair Haldane could only parry a Donald Campbell shot on the turn.
Blair Haldane made an excellent save standing up well at his near post to narrow the angle and deny Craig MacEwan from a Donald Campbell lay-off in the 73rd minute.
Teenagers Gavin Forgrieve and Aaron McKay were given the chance to shine in front the watching Central Scottish Amateur Football League top brass when they replaced Donald Campbell and Matty Kelly for the closing 15 minutes.
Dene Cassells picked up a cheap yellow card, the only one of the match, for kicking the ball away at a disputed throw-in which went in favour of the home side.
Aaron McKay lifted a decent effort from the edge of the box just over the crossbar after Gavin Edwards had beaten Craig MacEwan in the air to head out a Ross Maitland right wing corner kick.
Gavin Edwards made an excellent sliding interception to prevent Craig MacEwan from adding to the scoring after latching onto a Lewis Cameron through ball. That proved to be Cameron’s final contribution of another productive afternoon and he was replaced for the closing stages by James Ford.
Mr Hamilton brought proceedings to a close after two added minutes confirming Saints place in this Friday’s fourth round draw. Saints were due to play St Patrick’s FP in the Cinema Cup on Saturday but the Dumbarton side’s Scottish Cup match at Glenrothes was postponed last weekend so that game takes priority leaving Saints with no fixture this Saturday.
Oban Saints GG team travelled to take on Erskine in the President’s Cup last Sutuday where they lost a close match 2-1. On target for Saints was Robert Johnstone.
The team are on their travels again this weekend when Ferguslie Star are the opponents in a Greater Glasgow League match.
Saints are lying second in the league with Ferguslie in fourth place so a good game is in prospect.
Oban Saints duo Lewis Cameron and Scott Maitland attended a Scottish Amateur FA training session at the Falkirk Stadium last Sunday in preparation for the forthcoming international matches later in the season.