Saints GG earn top marks at Hermitage Academy

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Spring Cup
Helensburgh 0
Oban Saints GG 10

Oban Saints Greater Glasgow Premier Amateur Football League team rounded off their Spring Cup campaign in style with an emphatic 10-0 victory over an experimental Helensburgh side at Hermitage Academy last Saturday afternoon.

Defeats to South Lochaber Thistle and Vale of Leven in their previous group one matches had ended Saints GG’s interest in the competition, however, manager Donald Black was keen to see his charges bow out in style and named a strong blend of youth and experience for the final match.

A hat-trick before the half hour mark from striker Keir Maclean gave Saints a solid platform to build on with central defender Nathan Allan completing the first half scoring. Second half substitute Kyle Cooper also netted three times before Gavin Forgrieve and a brace from veteran defender Alex Craik rounded off a convincing victory for Saints.

It was almost a perfect start for Saints when in the second minute Gavin Forgrieve picked out what looked to be a well-timed run from Keir Maclean only for the referee to give a hotly-contested offside decision in favour of the home side.

Helensburgh didn’t wait around to debate the decision and moved swiftly to the other end where Murdo MacKenzie was tested for the first time holding a shot from 18 yards low down to his right.

There was a far more agreeable decision from the man in the middle in the fourth minute when Forgrieve found an onside Keir Maclean who raced through the inside left channel and placed the ball across the Helensburgh keeper and into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

Further controversy followed in the 22nd minute when Alex Craik climbed well to win a classic downward header from a Gavin Forgrieve corner kick which landed over the goal-line before being collected by the goalkeeper. To Craik’s extreme frustration the referee was unsighted and unable to award the ‘goal’.

The frustration was soon forgotten, however, when 60 seconds later Forgrieve once again opened up the home defence with a slide rule pass for Keir Maclean who gleefully accepted the opportunity to double the Saints advantage.

Having never even met before the match, Martin Bonar and young Louis MacFarlane were forming a solid midfield partnership giving colleague Gavin Forgrieve space to measure his passes for front two Keir Maclean and Robbie Johnstone.

Forgrieve picked out Maclean again in the 25th minute only for the referee to deny the Saints striker his hat-trick with another tight offside call.

Maclean, however, didn’t have too much longer to wait to complete his treble with Forgrieve once again the architect. The striker skipped away from the Helensburgh defence in the 28th minute before rounding the keeper and rolling the ball into the unguarded net.

A previously well-hidden sense of adventure from Nathan Allan took the young central defender deep into the opposition half in the 31st minute where he was played in on goal by Ruaridh Horne, himself playing in an unaccustomed left wing back role. Showing all the composure of a striker, Allan steered the ball low past the advancing keeper and into the bottom corner to round off the first half scoring.

Manager Donald Black made a double half-time substitution withdrawing Keir Maclean and Louis MacFarlane and replacing them with Kyle Cooper and Gary MacCuish.

Scorer of the fourth goal Nathan Allan turned provider for the fifth making a rampaging run up the left wing to get on the end of a Kenneth Black long pass. Allan’s cut-back from the bye-line was cushioned into the path of Kyle Cooper by Gavin Forgrieve for the young substitute to open his account.

In a surprising change for the closing half hour, veteran defender Alex Craik was pushed up front to partner Cooper after promising youngster Thomas McCrindle had replaced the hard working Robert Johnstone. The new strike partnership soon bore fruit with Cooper latching onto another Gavin Forgrieve through ball and rounding the keeper before squaring to Craik for an easy tap-in for goal number six.

Saints continued to open up the beleaguered home defence and Gavin Forgrieve deservedly added a goal of his own to his tally of assists with a 70th minute shot from the edge of the home box which took a slight deflection on its way past the Helensburgh keeper.

In the 72nd minute, Kyle Cooper teed up Craik to complete his brace from close range before Cooper was denied his own second goal by the feet of the Helensburgh keeper.
Craik repaid the compliment setting up Cooper for goal number nine with 15 minutes remaining.

The heat was understandably slowing the pace of the game but Saints were still able to find the gaps in the Helensburgh defence and, predictably, it was Gavin Forgrieve who threaded the ball through for Kyle Cooper to complete his hat-trick in the 81st minute.

The home side were denied a consolation goal when Murdo MacKenzie capped a solid performance by springing high to his left to acrobatically finger tip a 36 yard free-kick over his crossbar.

Oban Saints GG will continue their preparations for the new Greater Glasgow Premier Amateur Football League season with regular training sessions with manager Donald Black and coach Brian Forgrieve hopeful of confirming some pre-season friendly dates in the near future.


Saints keeper Murdo MacKenzie collects a cross.

Alex Craik’s header crossed the line but the referee, who was unsighted, didn’t give the ‘goal’.