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Wednesday 19 May
Oban Saints GG 3
South Lochaber Thistle 5
Oban Saints’ second team, who play in the Greater Glasgow Premier League, launched their Spring Cup campaign with a 7pm kick off against Division One outfit South Lochaber Thistle at Oban Community Pitch last Wednesday evening, May 19.
In a high scoring encounter, the young Saints acquitted themselves well in patches against their more experienced opponents, however, the top flight Lochaber side were ultimately comfortable and deserved winners.
Saints lined up in their new all red kit kindly sponsored by D&K Lafferty Contractors.
Before the action got under way, referee Martin Rae led both sides in a silence of remembrance for the late Tam Maitland, father of Saints Scottish Amateur International defender Scott Maitland and a stalwart supporter of the Oban club.
After both goalkeepers had made good early saves, midfielder David Forbes opened the scoring for the visitors in the 20th minute with a cushioned volley into the top corner after Alex Craik had headed out a Martin Munro free-kick from the right.
The talismanic Munro was a constant threat and veteran Saints defender Alex Craik had to use all of his experience to marshal his defence through a difficult first half where the visitors held the upper hand for the most part.
It wasn’t all one way traffic, however, and rampaging runs on the right from Robbie Johnstone twice narrowly failed to find the feet of striker Cammy Hill with cutbacks from the bye-line.
When Johnstone eventually managed to pick out Hill in the 36th minute after good work from Forgrieve and McKay, the Thistle keeper denied the big Saints striker with a smart save low to his left.
Three goals in a devastating ten-minute spell at the start of the second half effectively clinched the tie for the visitors with 35 minutes still to play.
Despite the four goal deficit, the young Saints side refused to let their heads drop and found a way back into the game in the 64th minute when Alex Craik climbed well at the back post to head a Gavin Forgrieve corner kick crashing into the top corner of the net.
With just three minutes of the 90 remaining, Saints were handed the opportunity to half the deficit when Fraser MacFarlane was tripped in the Thistle box. Never short of confidence, the diminutive Saints striker grabbed the ball and placed his sweetly struck spot kick well out of reach of the Thistle keeper.
Regrettably for Saints, the visitors, who had rarely been seen as an attacking threat since their blistering start to the second half, restored their three-goal cushion just 60 seconds later, cruelly punishing a mix-up in the Saints defence.
Keir MacLean immediately grabbed another goal back for Saints latching onto a Gavin Forgrieve through ball and lobbing the keeper from 30 yards to give Saints a glimmer of hope of snatching an unlikely draw.
MacLean and MacFarlane both had chances to add to their respective tallies in the four minutes of time added on by referee Martin Rae but found the Thistle number one equal to the task ensuring victory for the South Lochaber men.
Caption: Saints veteran defender Alex Craik, No 5, pulls a goal back for Saints GG in their Spring Cup encounter with South Lochaber Thistle.
Match report and photograph: Derek Black