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There was no case of unlucky 13 at Oban High School last Saturday as Oban Saints came from behind to stretch their Central Scottish Amateur Football League Division 1B winning run to 13 games.
Despite taking the lead in the 10th minute, Stedfast K’s anchor failed to hold and Saints stormed back with goals from David Beaton, Lewis Cameron, Aaron McKay and a brace from top marksman Craig MacEwan.
Saints co-manager Willie Gemmell was deprived of the services of James Ford, Matty Kelly, Ross Maitland, Kerr Newbigging and Matt Rippon, paving the way for a well-deserved return to the first team set-up for Daniel Croarkin.
Also deserving of their promotion to the starting XI were youngsters Gavin Forgrieve and Aaron McKay who repaid their manager’s confidence with accomplished performances against considerably more experienced opponents.
Saints kicked off attacking the school end from where the gale force wind blew a steady stream of hail showers throughout the match.
Craig MacEwan pressurised former Lochgilphead Red Star youngster Ciaran McPhie into conceding the game’s first corner kick in the fourth minute but Lewis Cameron’s delivery from the right was fractionally too heavy for Steven MacLeod at the far post.
Despite playing into the strong wind, Saints were making the early running. However, it was Stedfast who struck first with their first attempt at goal. Grant Cathro was allowed to carry the ball a long way unchallenged before unleashing a fierce wind-assisted left foot shot which flew into the top corner giving Graham Douglas no chance.
The already depleted visitors, with just six survivors from the reverse fixture last August in their ranks, were dealt the first of several injury blows after 18 minutes when Ciaran McPhie hobbled off with a recurrence of the hamstring injury which has troubled him all season. McPhie’s place was taken by Richard McGuire.
Saints got back on level terms in the 22nd minute from a good move on the right where David Beaton and Lewis Cameron combined well for Cameron to send a cut-back to Craig MacEwan, who calmly rolled the ball past the helpless Scott Richardson.
Stedfast central defender Mark Byrne did well to cut out a dangerous David Beaton cross before a crazy 60-second spell from the Saints defence saw the visitors hit the woodwork twice.
Graham Douglas was caught in two minds with what should have been a routine 27th-minute clearance which he scuffed straight to the feet of David Casey. The Saints number one was a relieved man to see Casey’s first time effort come back off the upright but the danger didn’t end there. The Saints defence failed to properly clear their lines and conceded a free-kick 25 yards out and right of centre. The dipping wind-assisted effort from Grant Cathro left Graham Douglas rooted to the spot but cannoned off the crossbar before eventually being forced clear.
Saints deservedly took the lead in the 37th minute with Lewis Cameron again the architect. Cameron picked the ball up in the centre circle from Dene Cassells and, with willing runners Aaron McKay and David Beaton ahead of him, successfully picked out Beaton who raced through the middle and dinked the ball into the net over the advancing Scott Richardson.
David Beaton won a corner kick off David Casey on the right two minutes later with Craig MacEwan rising highest on the six-yard line to meet Lewis Cameron’s delivery but was unable to keep his header below the crossbar.
Beaton’s pace took him beyond the Stedfast defence once again in the 41st minute but, after flicking the ball over Scott Richardson on the 18-yard line was beaten to the bouncing ball by a last ditch Sinclair Soutar challenge.
Saints youngsters Gavin Forgrieve and Aaron McKay combined to carve out the final chance of the first half with McKay stretching at the back post to direct Forgrieve’s cross from the corner of the 18-yard box back across the face of goal but agonisingly wide of Scott Richardson’s left hand post.
The half-time interval did little to disrupt the Saints momentum and inside the opening 60 seconds of the second half Lewis Cameron opened up the Stedfast defence for Myles McAuley who, after making a good run, unfortunately delayed his shot too long and was crowded out inside the 18-yard box.
Aaron McKay’s cross from the left was taken off the forehead of Craig MacEwan by Mark Byrne at the expense of a corner kick which Lewis Cameron whipped, wind assisted, onto the roof of the net.
The visitors goal continued to lead a charmed existence and Lewis Cameron’s 55th-minute free-kick from the D came back off the cross bar with Scott Richardson well beaten.
The rebound was turned back towards goal by the outstretched leg of a Stedfast defender who watched in agony as his touch bounced off the inside of the post, across the face of goal and out for a corner kick.
Saints doubled their advantage in the 59th minute from a free-kick on the half-way line. Grant Cathro bundled into Myles McAuley wide on the Saints left with Scott Maitland quickly rolling the resulting free-kick up to Aaron McKay. McKay sent over an in-swinging right foot cross which Craig MacEwan met perfectly with a cushioned volley into the bottom corner.
This proved to be MacEwan’s final involvement and he was replaced before the restart by Cammy Hill.
Scott Richardson produced another good save to deny Lewis Cameron before Saints had the ball in the net again in the 64th minute. Aaron McKay once again provided a good cross from the left which David Beaton turned in at the far post only for referee Pat O’Donnell, who was well positioned, to disallow the goal for an offside call against McKay.
Central Scottish Amateur Football League Select men Scott Maitland and Lewis Cameron warmed up for the upcoming Inter League Trophy match against the Scottish Amateur Football League by combining for the fourth Saints goal. Maitland made a rampaging run into the Stedfast box and picked out Cameron with a cutback which he slammed into the roof of the net from 10 yards range.
Cameron was then afforded a well-earned rest with his place being taken by Daniel Croarkin.
The visitors were forced to field Ross Henderson, the second of their two substitutes, when goal scorer Grant Cathro limped off with what appeared to be hamstring injury.
Stedfast couldn’t clear a Scott Maitland 73d-minute corner kick from the right and Daniel Croarkin picked out skipper Dene Cassells for a cushioned right foot volley straight into the midriff of Scott Richardson.
The woodwork came to the visitors’ rescue once again after 74 minutes when Cammy Hill raced away from Sinclair Soutar and clipped a left foot finish across Scott Richardson and onto the base of the keeper’s left hand post.
Stedfast’s injury woes continued when skipper James Harvey was unable to continue after an 85th minute challenge from Daniel Croarkin.
The 10 men quickly fell further behind when Aaron McKay crashed an unstoppable 86th-minute shot from 24 yards into the top corner well out of reach for keeper Scott Richardson.
The desperately unlucky visitors finished the match with nine men when defender Louis Smith had to be carried off with a badly twisted right knee before referee O’Donnell, who handled proceedings well, brought the match to an end.
This coming Saturday Saints welcome first-time visitors Bridgewater to Oban for Central Scottish Amateur Football League Division 1B match number 14.
The teams met earlier in the season with Saints winning 3-0 but the match was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests so a difficult game is in prospect for the D & K Laffery-sponsored Oban side.
Saints secretary David Buchanan said the match against Bridgewater would either be at Glencruitten or the 3G community pitch depending on the weather. The match will be refereed by Michael Kerr and will kick-off at 2pm.
Congatulations to Lewis Cameon and Scott Maitland who played for the Central Scottish AFL Select against the Scottish Amateur FL Select in the semi final of the Inter-League Trophy last Sunday at Holm Park, Yoker.
Lewis scored the opening goal for the Central Select in a 6-3 win.
Central now play the Kingdom of Fife FL on a date still to be aranged
Matty Kelly was also due to be in the Central squad but had to pull out through injury.