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Match report and photographs: Derek Black
Oban Saints 5
Oban Saints GG 0
Oban Saints Central Scottish League side and their Greater Glasgow League counterparts played out an entertaining friendly at Oban High School last Saturday afternoon.
Despite the final score line this was no walk in the park for the senior of the club’s two sides with the youthful second string ensuring their more experienced opponents had to work hard for their victory.
With a return to competitive football still some way away, referee Pat O’Donnell ensured the current match day protocols, including no spectators inside the perimeter fencing, were strictly enforced for the 1.30pm kick-off played in pleasant winter sunshine.
Saints kicked off attacking the school end and straight from the referee’s first whistle took the game to their Greater Glasgow opponents.
Aaron McKay sent a shot wide of Murdo MacKenzie’s right hand post in the third minute before Ryan Barclay made an important block to deny the Saints wide man in the ninth minute.
Saints kept the pressure on the GG defence and worked the ball back over to the right wing where Andy Moore slid in on Scott Johnston at the expense of a corner kick.
Gavin Forgrieve took the kick and aimed for the back post where his perfect delivery was met by Cammy Hill, who leapt above the GG defence to head home from four yards range.
Having provided the assist for the opening goal, Gavin Forgrieve opened his own account in the 16th minute rounding off a patient build up with a sweet curling finish.
Thirty-plus passes were involved as Saints probed for an opening which finally came from a David Beaton lay off to Forgrieve on the corner of the 18-yard box, who curled a right foot finish across Murdo MacKenzie into the postage stamp corner to put the senior team 2-up.
Saints GG made their first foray forward in the 18th minute but found Steven MacLeod once again in commanding form at the heart of the senior defence.
Elder statesman of an otherwise youthful Saints GG line up Alex Craik showed all his experience to snuff out a promising burst into the box from David Beaton before Craig Easton was once again on hand with an interception to divert a net bound Gavin Forgrieve effort wide of target.
Both sides made enforced changes in the 35th minute. Lewis Buchanan couldn’t run off the effects of a heavy Matty Kelly challenge and was replaced by Keir MacLean while a thigh strain ended Kerr Newbigging’s involvement giving Jamie Graham an unexpected run out in central defence.
The new front pairing for Saints GG linked up well in the 38th minute taking advantage of a slack ball out from the back by Graham Douglas.
Keir MacLean picked out Kyle Cooper at the back post but the young striker couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Saints stretched their lead still further in the 40th minute.
Cammy Hill held the ball up well on the edge of the GG box and laid off to Gavin Forgrieve who turned onto his right foot and sent a shot from 23 yards arcing away from Murdo MacKenzie’s right hand into the top corner of the net.
With the low sun in his eyes, Graham Douglas was at full stretch to make a fine save tipping a 40-yard Daniel MacCuish effort over his crossbar.
Saints made a change for the start of the second half sending on Lewis Campbell to replace Aaron McKay.
Senior team skipper for the day Scott Maitland was in an adventurous mood driving into the box on the left, however, Murdo MacKenzie read his intentions and stood up well to beat the ball away.
MacKenzie made another good save to deny Ruaridh Horne in the 57th minute but was powerless to stop Cammy Hill from finding the net for a second time from the resulting corner kick.
Gavin Forgrieve once again found Hill’s head in the six-yard box from the corner flag. MacKenzie stopped Hill’s header on the goal line but was beaten for the fourth time by Hill’s side foot finish on the rebound.
James Beaton replaced Andy Moore for the GG side for the final 30 minutes and won a 65th minute free-kick on the left on the corner of the Saints 18-yard box.
Keir MacLean sent an inviting ball bouncing across the face of goal which Matty Kelly, guarding the back post, was happy to thump clear.
Murdo MacKenzie held a 75th minute Lewis Campbell shot before, at the other end, Kyle Copper headed over a Kenny Black cross after the Saints GG skipper had been sent clear on the left by Craig Easton.
Daniel MacCuish continued to impress in central midfield for Saints GG and turned away from Aaron McKay in the centre circle in the 78th minute.
MacCuish drove forward and tee’d up Fraser MacFarlane for a 25-yard shot which Graham Douglas safely held.
Following a quick release from Graham Douglas Saints moved swiftly into the Saints GG half where Cammy Hill slipped David Beaton through in the inside right channel.
Beaton’s pace took him away from the defence and his early shot from 19 yards gave Murdo MacKenzie no chance to make the final score 5-0.