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Oban Saints 3
Oban Saints and Argyll neighbours Dunoon Amateurs took advantage of Argyll and Bute’s continued tier two Coronavirus protection level status to stage a friendly fixture at Dunoon Stadium last Saturday afternoon.
The vast grass playing surface successfully passed an early morning pitch inspection, however, underfoot conditions were extremely heavy ensuring quality football remained at a premium throughout.
Referee Jimmy Litster ensured strict matchday protocols were observed by both sides where Saints overturned a half time deficit to earn a deserved victory over their Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division One hosts.
Dunoon kicked off with the strong wind at their backs and were immediately on the attack.
Evan Meyar-McDonagh and Paddy Mullholland linked well on the right wing with Mullholland sending a right foot shot from the edge of the Saints box high and wide of target.
After a slow start Saints were eventually able to exert some pressure on the Dunoon defence when Aaron McKay closed down and dispossessed full back JJ Friel.
The Saints youngster raced into the box and squared to Craig MacEwan, however, the Saints skipper couldn’t get the ball out of his feet in the soggy conditions and a good chance was lost.
A slip at the vital moment from Kerr Newbigging gave Ewan McIlkenny a sight of goal and the Saints defender was a relieved man to see Graham Douglas spring high to his left to push McIlkenny’s right foot shot over the crossbar.
Newbigging was involved at the other end in the 24th minute having a shot from a Scott Johnston knock down blocked on the six-yard line after Aaron McKay had won a corner on the Saints right.
The Saints defence was caught napping at a 27th minute throw-in on the Dunoon right.
Ewan McIlkenny was allowed to make his way to the bye-line inside the Saints box from where he picked out Evan Meyar-McDonagh, who slammed the ball low into the net past the despairing dive of Graham Douglas.
Craig MacEwan and Gavin Forgrieve both failed to trouble Euan Hunter from set pieces and when MacEwan eventually did manage to get an effort on target the Dunoon keeper was able to safely gather the Saints skipper’s header from a Matty Kelly right wing cross.
On the stroke of half-time Kelly was this time on the end of a Gavin Forgrieve cross from the right but sent his header high over Euan Hunter’s crossbar.
Forgrieve made way for Martin Bonar in a half-time change which also saw Saints switch to a 3-4-3 formation.
Saints made a positive start to the second half and, inside the first minute, Ruaridh Horne slipped Craig MacEwan into the inside right channel.
MacEwan beat Jamie Robertson and cut onto his left foot for a shot which Euan Hunter did well to push behind at full stretch.
Saints were given the opportunity to draw level when Craig MacEwan was pulled down after a smart turn in the Dunoon box.
The skipper took responsibility for the spot kick himself and made no mistake beating Euan Hunter low to his right.
Stepping forward from midfield in the 56th minute substitute Martin Bonar smacked Euan Hunter’s left hand post with a rasping 30-yard drive as Saints stepped up the hunt for a second goal.
They didn’t have too much longer to wait and 60 seconds later Scott Maitland’s strong running won a corner kick on the left.
Craig MacEwan came short to meet Matty Kelly’s corner kick and took the ball to the corner of the 18 yard box before firing off a shot which Euan Hunter couldn’t hold.
The Dunoon keeper could only push the ball into the path of Kerr Newbigging who found the net from eight yards range.
Newbigging and Cammy Hill departed after 67 minutes to be replaced by Myles McAuley and Lewis Campbell.
Dunoon keeper Euan Hunter made two fine saves to prevent Lewis Campbell from stretching the Saints lead but was powerless to prevent the young substitute from finding the net in the 85th minute.
Dunoon skipper Jamie Robertson flashed a dangerous ball across the Saints box but without any takers which paved the way for a swift counter attack up the right. Ruaridh Horne found Craig MacEwan for a lay-off into the path of Lewis Campbell.
The youngster raced forward with fellow substitute Myles McAuley in support.
Having witnessed McAuley’s finishing in training Campbell wisely ignored the screams from the touchline to play in McAuley and curled a delightful finish across Hunter and into the top corner to make the final score 3-1.
Referee Litster, who handled a typically competitive Argyll derby well, brought proceedings to an end after three added minutes with both sides pleased to have completed another 90 minutes of action while their respective league campaigns remain suspended.