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South Lochaber Thistle 0
Oban Saints 4
Match Report: Derek Black
After Storm Aiden had wiped out the previous Saturday’s attempt to play this friendly fixture Oban Saints and South Lochaber Thistle were finally able to get the valuable game time desired under their respective belts at Kinlochleven High School last Saturday afternoon.
Weather conditions were good, however, the low autumn sun failed to rise high enough above the Mamore hills to reach the 3G surface located on the Kinlochmore side of the village with the West Highland Way passing just a few yards away.
Referee Martin Rae ensured strict matchday protocols, including no changing facilities or supporters, were followed by both sides where a brace from captain-for-the-day Craig MacEwan, together with strikes from Lewis Cameron and Aaron McKay, gave Saints a comfortable victory over their Greater Glasgow Premier League Division One hosts.
Injuries, work and family commitments severely hampered manager Willie Gemmell’s selection opportunities with only 12 players, himself included, available to make the trip.
Skipper for the day Craig MacEwan got the match underway where the much-changed visitors’ line-up quickly stamped their authority on proceedings.
Despite holding the upper hand in the early exchanges Saints were unable to break through the Thistle defence and test keeper Andrew Brown.
Gavin Forgrieve had a shot from 22 yards blocked and Willie Gemmell sliced an effort well off target from a Lewis Cameron short free-kick.
Only 14 first half minutes had elapsed when Saints’ already threadbare resources were stretched still further due to a calf strain picked up by David Beaton giving only substitute Cammy Hill an early run out.
The Jags keeper was finally tested after 15 minutes when Scott Johnston sent Craig MacEwan in behind the home defence from where, from the left of the box, the skipper turned onto his right foot and shot straight into the keeper’s midriff.
Further Andrew Brown saves followed from Lewis Cameron, Craig MacEwan and Gavin Forgrieve efforts before Cameron found the side netting from a tight angle after good work on the left by MacEwan and Hill.
A driving 26th minute run and cutback on the left from James Ford opened up space for a Craig MacEwan shot.
Brown was once again equal to the task parrying MacEwan’s effort and recovering quickly to complete an excellent double save and safely hold Cammy Hill’s effort on the rebound.
The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute immediately following another Andrew Brown save.
The Jags keeper comfortably held a Gavin Forgrieve shot from 18 yards after Forgrieve and Aaron McKay had combined to good effect through the middle.
In a massive slice of bad fortune for Brown his attempted clearance hit Lewis Cameron with the ball falling kindly for Craig MacEwan, who slotted the ball low to Brown’s right to open the scoring.
Determination from Aaron McKay won him possession in the centre circle paving the way for another Saints attack in the 37th minute.
Ruaridh Horne stormed forward from defence and combined with Gavin Forgrieve to play in James Ford for a low right foot shot which drew another good save from Andrew Brown.
With no options available to him on the bench Saints Manager Willie Gemmell appealed for more of the same from his charges for the second 45.
Just two second-half minutes had elapsed when Lewis Cameron and Craig MacEwan combined to find the supporting run of Gavin Forgrieve, only for Andrew Brown to save bravely at the young midfielder’s feet.
Scott Johnston gave Brown another test with a 30-yard shot which the Jags keeper held well after Keir Kennedy had headed a Craig MacEwan overhead kick off the goal-line.
James Ford’s trickery continued to torment the home defence winning a free-kick on the edge of the box just in from the bye-line.
Brown’s busy afternoon showed no sign of letting up when he had to show quick reactions to stop Lewis Cameron’s free-kick at his near post with his right foot.
It was Brown’s right boot to the rescue again in the 64th minute stopping another Lewis Cameron free-kick this time after Scott Johnston had been felled 20 yards out.
The pressure on the home goal eventually told in the 65th minute when Craig MacEwan made a near-post run to connect perfectly with Lewis Cameron’s corner kick from the right.
Gaffer Willie Gemmell had a hand in the third goal racing back from the edge of the Jags box to snuff out a counter attack and win a 68th minute throw-in on the halfway line.
Gemmell’s quickly taken throw up the left to Lewis Cameron saw the Scottish Amateur Internationalist spin away from his marker and lift a cheeky lob over the advancing Andrew Brown and into the unguarded net.
Aaron McKay rattled the crossbar with a 28-yard shot in the 70th minute.
Saints struck the woodwork again 10 minutes later when Craig MacEwan found the outside of Andrew Brown’s left hand post from inside the D after another swashbuckling run from James Ford.
The home side brought on club Captain Martin Munro for the closing stages easing the skipper back into action following his recent hamstring injury.
The introduction of Munro increased the home side’s attacking threat but the Saints back three of Ruaridh Horne, Steven MacLeod and Willie Gemmell remained comfortably in control to secure a highly prized clean sheet.
Saints turned defence quickly into attack to bag the fourth and final goal with six minutes remaining.
Gavin Forgrieve won possession on the edge of the Saints box and played the ball up to Lewis Cameron in the centre circle.
Cameron picked out Craig MacEwan’s galloping run on the left which took him all the way to the Jags bye-line.
Support for the skipper was on hand from young Aaron McKay, who gleefully knocked home MacEwan’s cutback from close range.
Referee Martin Rae, who handled the good natured encounter well, brought proceedings to an end with both sides happy to get another 90 minutes in the tank while their respective leagues remain unable to schedule competitive fixtures.