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Oban Saints Under 15s were crowned Glasgow & District Youth Football League Divisional Cup champions last Sunday afternoon after a 4-2 win against Kinghtswood saw them end their 2020/21 season on a high.
As the temperatures soared to well over 20 degrees at Toryglen Regional Football Centre, the young Saints kept their cool to turn in an excellent performance and win their first piece of silverware.
Saints, in their red away kit, started the game strongly and settled any nerves with an early opener on four minutes. Goalkeeper Josh Lane found Zander Craik with an early kick out to set Saints off on the counter attack and with Zander spotting midfielder Ewen Campbell making a lung-bursting run his through ball found the onrushing midfielder who finished first time with his right foot to give the goalkeeper no chance.
The same two players combined again to double Saints’ advantage on ten minutes. Good wide play from Zander resulted in a cross and there to volley home with his left foot was Ewen Campbell again.
The Saints pushed for a third and looked to have a good shout for a penalty as Zander Craik tumbled in the box on 12 minutes, but the referee didn’t agree and waved play on.
Having looked dangerous throughout from set pieces, it was a corner from the right that let Knightswood back into the game on 25 minutes. A deep corner to the back post was headed back into the danger area and despite loud claims by the Saints players for a handball, the ball was bundled into the net to make the score 2-1 at the interval.
Into the second half and after a bright start Saints had a great chance to increase their advantage as the referee awarded a penalty kick after Zander Craik was fouled in the box. Saints top scorer this season grabbed the ball but his penalty was saved by the goalkeeper’s legs with Knightswood able to clear the danger before the rebound could be tucked away.
The Glasgow side were now coming into the game more, although on 63 minutes Saints’ midfielder Aidan MacDonald had a shot from distance which the Knightswood goalkeeper saved comfortably.
A minute later, after some hesitant Saints play in midfield, Knightswood equalised with a well taken right foot shot from just inside the box, leaving Josh Lane with no chance.
It would have been easy for the young Oban side to let their heads drop at this point but with a cup final to win all over again they re-took the lead on 69 minutes. A long pass forward from Michael Campbell found Zander Craik who cut in from the left hand side. It looked like he had taken the ball a little wide but his powerful right foot shot hit the inside of the goalkeeper’s left hand post and bounced out to strike partner Cody McCulloch, who calmly controlled the ball before smashing his finish high into the net to make it 3-2.
With four minutes of the match remaining, Saints put the game out of reach. Preston MacIntyre’s corner from the right found the head of Zander Craik who nodded home to spark huge celebrations from the players on the pitch as they knew this goal had all but sealed the win. Those scenes were more than matched as the referee blew his final whistle, with captain Preston MacIntyre lifting the trophy after the presentation on the pitch.
Coaches Allan MacDonald and Alex Craik were delighted for the boys, commenting that after all the hard work and commitment shown from the squad this year the cup victory was a great reward for them.
The team would also like to extend their thanks to the Glasgow and District Youth Football League for organising the Divisional Cup for the teams this year, to Donald Black, chairman of Saints Youths, for buying the team dinner on the way home, to main team sponsor JM Boyd (Heating and Plumbing) for their continued support and all parents for their support at matches this season.
The team are now taking a well-earned, two-week break before they get their pre-season training under way in mid July.
Caption: Oban Saints players and coaches Alex Craik and Allan MacDonald with the Divisional Cup.