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Match report and photographs: Derek Black
Rothesay Brandane 5
Oban Saints 4
A Jekyll and Hyde performance from Saints’ number one Graham Douglas played a pivotal role in the final outcome of Oban Saints friendly encounter with Rothesay Brandane at Rothesay Joint Campus last Saturday afternoon.
After keeping his strangely out-of-sorts team mates in the match with a string of fine first half saves, two uncharacteristic lapses in concentration from the Saints keeper ultimately helped the home side come out on top in a nine-goal thriller.
Saints Manager Willie Gemmell’s ongoing selection headaches intensified with Kerr Newbigging and Craig MacEwan the latest to join the lengthy list of injury victims.
Coach Jamie Graham was pressed into a starting role and Fraser MacFarlane was called up from Oban Saints GG to make up a 13-man squad.
The home side kicked off playing into the low sun and the first half’s main protagonists, Graham Douglas and Sean Lawrence commenced their own personal battle in the 10th minute when the Saints keeper spread himself well to prevent a Lawrence cutback from the right finding its way to the waiting Robert Fisher.
Skipper-for-the-day Scott Maitland was pushing his side forward on the left and combined well with James Ford in the 22nd minute only for Ford to send his cross looking for the head of Cammy Hill into the grateful arms of Brandane goalkeeper William Lawrence.
Sean Lawrence left Graham Douglas firmly rooted to the spot with a 26th minute 30- yard screamer which came crashing back off the right hand upright.
Far too many Saints passes were going astray and when Steven MacLeod joined the guilty list it was Douglas to the rescue again getting down well to his left to push another Sean Lawrence effort behind for a corner kick.
The strangely disjointed Saints finally found some fluidity and took an undeserved lead on the stroke of half time. Gavin Forgrieve found James Ford on the left where his quick feet took him away from Matthew Leitch and into the box before slotting a low finish across William Lawrence and into the bottom corner.
The second half was just five minutes old when Graham Douglas managed to undo all of his good first half work by mis-controlling a David Beaton pass back into his own goal.
Calamitous defending from Saints saw Steven MacLeod concede a 59th minute penalty kick giving Sean Lawrence the opportunity to finally get the better of Graham Douglas with ease, beating the Saints number one emphatically from 12 yards.
Steven MacLeod departed shortly thereafter to be replaced by Fraser MacFarlane, prompting a reshuffle which left Saints with an entirely unfamiliar back four of David Beaton, Scott Johnston, Jamie Graham and Scott Maitland.
Saints were offering more of an attacking threat in the second half pushing fullbacks David Beaton and Scott Maitland forward at every opportunity. Maitland combined well with James Ford on the left in the 62nd minute only for Kalum Ledicott to get a toe to Ford’s low cutback looking for Cammy Hill.
The home side counter attacked to devastating effect in the 66th minute when Calum Robertson raced away on the right wing and picked out Sean Lawrence in the middle who steered an excellent finish across Graham Douglas and into the net.
The Saints defence was all at sea once again two minutes later requiring Graham Douglas to make another excellent save to deny Sean Lawrence his hat-trick.
Scott Maitland, Aaron McKay and James Ford linked well on the left in the 72nd minute with the Saints skipper wriggling through to slot the ball past Lawrence and cut the arrears to one.
Referee Crichton ignored loud Saints appeals for a penalty kick in the 75th minute, instead awarding a freekick just outside of the 18-yard box after James Ford had been sent crashing to the artificial turf. The Rothesay wall did its job to block Gavin Forgrieve’s free kick before Aaron McKay sent the rebound wide of William Lawrence’s right hand post.
After an improved spell Saints shot themselves in the foot once again when Graham Douglas sent a 77th minute goal kick straight to the feet of Ryan Driver who gleefully accepted the invitation to restore the home side’s two-goal advantage.
James Ford set up an anxious final five minutes for the home side when he grabbed his second goal of the afternoon with a thumping right foot effort from 25 yards which slammed into the roof of the net.
The thrills and spills kept coming and after William Lawrence had saved an 88th minute Fraser MacFarlane effort the home side once again hit Saints on the counter attack.
Aiden MacGregor sent an inch-perfect pass into the stride of Ryan Driver on the right, who raced into the Saints box and shot low across Graham Douglas into the bottom corner for his second goal of the afternoon.
Remarkably, despite such a below par performance, Saints were able to half the deficit for a third time and, after Gavin Forgrieve and David Beaton had both sent efforts over the crossbar, Rothesay central defender Ryan Craig stooped to divert a 90th minute Fraser MacFarlane right wing cross beyond his own goalkeeper.
There was insufficient time left on referee Chrichton’s watch for Saints to grab what would have been an ill-deserved draw and after the final whistle Saints manager Willie Gemmell left his charges in no doubt that he expects a marked improvement when training resumes after the Christmas and New Year break.