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Seven goals on their travels last Saturday afternoon, including a first goal for the club for young Aaron McKay, saw Oban Saints extend their Central Scottish Amateur Football League winning streak to 12 games to consolidate their position at the top of Division 1B.
Also on target at Motherwell’s Dalziel Park were Lewis Cameron, Ross Maitland, James Ford and David Beaton, with an own goal from Cambusnethan Talbot fullback Jamie Brown completing the Saints scorecard.
Lee Black brought the home side briefly back into contention but the Saints defence, with Graham Douglas back between the sticks following suspension, repelled a spirited start to the second half from the Lanarkshire men to eventually run out 7-1 victors.
With two massive cup games looming, co-manager Willie Gemmell decided to assess his options and handed starting roles to Matt Rippon, Gavin Forgrieve and Aaron McKay with Ruaridh Horne, David Beaton and Gemmell himself dropping to the bench.
Saints almost made the perfect start after winning possession straight from the home side’s kick-off.
Ross Maitland’s cross from the left was flicked on by Lewis Cameron and prodded just wide by Aaron McKay racing in at the back post.
The bright start continued with Craig MacEwan heading a Matt Rippon right wing cross just over from 12 yards out.
The home side made their first foray forward in the fourth minute, hitting Saints on the counter-attack where Lee Black looped a header from a Ryan Boyle left wing cross into the arms of Graham Douglas.
Cambusnethan threatened again five minutes later when Graham Douglas had to race to the edge of his box to save at the feet of Steven Hart after Ryan Boyle had turned the Saints defence with a ball over the top.
Matty Kelly and Scott Maitland combined well on the left to set up Ross Maitland for a tenth-minute shot which slipped just wide of Paul O’Hara’s left hand post.
Saints made the breakthrough in the 14th minute from a Graham Douglas goal kick after Lee Black had fired well wide from a Steven Hart cutback.
Craig MacEwan fed Ross Maitland in the inside right channel with Maitland’s shot deflecting into the path of Lewis Cameron for an easy finish from seven yards range.
Lewis Cameron warmed up for his impending appearance with the Central Scottish Amateur Football League Select with another impressive appearance and almost caught out Paul O’Hara in the Cambusnethan goal with an in-swinging corner kick from the left which landed on the roof of the net.
Saints doubled their advantage after 25 minutes in similar circumstances to the opening goal. Graham Douglas punched clear a Ryan Campbell corner kick from the Talbot left launching a swift counter-attack up the Saints right. Craig MacEwan once again found Ross Maitland whose downward shot on the half volley from 18 yards bounced up and over the despairing dive of keeper Paul O’Hara.
A perfectly weighted through ball from Matty Kelly sent Scott Maitland scurrying to the bye-line from where his cutback was back heeled goalward by Lewis Cameron forcing Paul O’Hara into a smart save at his near post.
Top goalscorer Craig MacEwan was leading the line well but the search for his 17th goal of the season continued in vain when keeper O’Hara threw up a strong right hand to claw away MacEwan’s attempted lob on the end of a Matt Rippon through ball in the 31st minute.
The Saints defence failed to heed this warning and lost their clean sheet two minutes later when Brady was once again picked out in space by Ryan Boyle. Brady flicked the ball past a stranded Graham Douglas into the path of Lee Black who made no mistake from 10 yards.
Saints immediately re-established their two-goal cushion after Ross Maitland forced a corner kick on the left from the restart. Craig MacEwan was inches away from connecting with Lewis Cameron’s delivery at the near post with Jamie Brown inadvertently knocking the bouncing ball into his own net denying Dene Cassells what would have been a tap-in at the back post.
An exquisite touch from Craig MacEwan to kill a Matt Rippon high ball stone dead started the move for Saints fourth goal. MacEwan laid the ball off to Ross Maitland who in turn found Lewis Cameron. Cameron’s jinking run into the box evaded several challenges before his ball across the face of goal was knocked home from close range by Aaron McKay for his first goal for the first team.
The half-time interval reinvigorated the home side who had the better of the early second half exchanges. Graham Douglas got across his line well to push a 54th minute Ian Caulfield free-kick over the junction of post and bar before coming through a ruck of players to punch clear the resulting corner kick from Ryan Campbell. The danger, however, wasn’t fully clear and Douglas was once again in the thick of the action clawing behind another Campbell cross under pressure from Mark Brady.
Saints weathered the Cambusnethan pressure and carved out a good chance at the other end which Aaron McKay blazed high and wide on his left foot after good work from Ross Maitland.
Saints co-manager Willie Gemmell made three changes on the hour mark, withdrawing Matt Rippon, Ross Maitland and Aaron McKay and sending on Ruaridh Horne, James Ford and David Beaton.
David Beaton’s blistering pace on the right immediately presented problems for the home side and only an excellent block by Ian Caulfield prevented Beaton from testing Paul O’Hara with a well struck shot.
Any faint hopes of a Cambusnethan comeback were extinguished in the 69th minute when the three substitutes combined to devastating effect. Ruaridh Horne sent David Beaton off on another run on the right wing from where his fizzing ball along the 18-yard line was controlled first time by James Ford. Ford’s quick feet took him away from Cambusnethan skipper Paul O’Kane and his sweetly struck shot flew past Paul O’Hara’s left hand and into the bottom corner.
Lewis Cameron rounded off another excellent all round performance with his second goal of the afternoon in the 75th minute. After his corner kick from the right had been knocked back out to him on the corner of the box, a drop of the shoulder opened up just enough space for him to rifle an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner giving the keeper no chance.
Fraser MacFarlane replaced Cameron for the closing stages and was involved in the build-up for seventh goal which was another crisply struck low shot this time from David Beaton on the right of the 18 yard box which arrowed across Paul O’Hara into the far corner to round off the scoring.
James Ford’s trickery took him into the box in the 86th minute where Paul O’Hara made a good save at his near post to turn the ball behind for a corner kick.
Craig MacEwan’s frustrating afternoon in front of goal continued to the last kick of the game when he struck the post from close range after getting on the end of a James Ford cross from the left.
Saints have now reached the halfway point in their 24-match Division 1B league campaign and remain firmly on course to achieve their principal target of promotion to the Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division.
Saints have no game this Saturday as do the GG team so the club have organised a practice match for 9am on Saturday which will allow co-manager Gemmell and club secretary David Buchanan the chance to travel to Clydebank to watch the Singer v Wishaw match. Saints play the winners in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.