Saints repel the pirates

Kyle Cooper with the first of his two goals. Photograph: Derek Black.

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Pre-season friendly
Oban Saints 6
Cambuslang FA Pirates 1

Oban Saints continued their build-up to the new season at a sun-drenched Glencruitten last Saturday afternoon.

A first run-out on the Glencruitten turf for ten months, saw the D&K Lafferty sponsored Saints play host to Glasgow Colleges Football Association side Cambuslang Football Academy Pirates in an entertaining encounter.

First half goals from Gavin Forgrieve and Rory Dowd added to a brace from Lewis Cameron to give Saints a four-goal half time lead. The visitors rallied briefly in the second half and replied through Gordon Wynne before second half substitute Kyle Cooper added two more for Saints to round off the scoring at 6 – 1.

Manager Willie Gemmell returned from self isolation to take the reins and, with seven players unavailable from the previous week’s starting line-up against Castlemilk, named himself on the substitutes bench along with Fraser MacFarlane and the latest Saints Youth graduate, 16-year-old Kyle Cooper.

Saints kicked off attacking the railway line end and had their noses in front inside five minutes. Rory Dowd picked out Lewis Cameron on the corner of the Pirates box from where he spun away from his marker and tucked the ball underneath the dive of Scott Matthews to open the scoring.

The home side doubled their advantage two minutes later after good work on the left by the evergreen Ross Maitland. The player/coach, who allegedly ‘retired’ in 2017, found Gavin Forgrieve on the 18-yard line whose curling net bound effort was deflected off a defender’s back completely wrong footing goalkeeper Scott Matthews before nestling in the bottom corner of the net.

The Pirates made their first voyage into Saints territory in the 12th minute with Kenneth Black doing well at left back to keep pace with Andy Bonham and block the Pirates right back’s cross out for a corner kick. Jamie Alexander climbed well at the back post but found Saints number one Graham Douglas equal to the task holding Alexander’s header safely to his right.

Ross Maitland continued to roll back the years and raced in from the right, beating the Pirates offside trap to meet Gavin Forgrieve’s through ball. Scott Matthews did well to narrow the angle and block Maitland’s effort but luck deserted him when the loose ball fell to the feet of Rory Dowd who gleefully rolled the ball into the unguarded net for Saints’ third goal.

Cammy Hill’s 43rd minute driving run at the Cambuslang defence was halted two yards short of the 18-yard line by a trip from Andy Bonham. Lewis Cameron took full advantage of the dead ball opportunity and curled a delightful finish over the four man Cambuslang wall and into the postage stamp corner to give Saints a 4-0 lead at the break.

Ross Maitland had the ball in the Pirates net 60 seconds after the re-start after racing through the inside left channel to meet a pinpoint diagonal pass from Gavin Forgrieve.

Referee Jimmy Litster, who handled a good natured encounter well, ruled in favour of the visitor’s appeals for an offside decision against the Saints wide man.

Saints’ netminder Graham Douglas parried a shot to his right from a well-struck David Lynass effort but the loose ball was well out of his reach and was pounced on by Gordon Wynne who, much to the delight of the boisterous crew on the touchline, tucked the ball underneath the Saints keeper’s dive to raise the visitors’ hopes of a comeback.

Gaffer Willie Gemmell made the first of two changes in the 56th minute replacing Kenneth Black with Fraser MacFarlane. This was followed by the latest graduate from the Oban Saints Youth set-up as Kyle Cooper was given the chance to shine when he replaced Cammy Hill for the closing half hour.

The home side extinguished any hopes of a Cambuslang comeback when Kyle Cooper notched the first of his two goals in the 75th minute. Lewis Cameron fed the young substitute midway inside the Pirates half, from where he powered forward holding off the attentions of Tom Coyle before beating Scott Matthews with a well-struck right foot shot into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

Despite the scoreline, Pirates keeper Scott Matthews had a steady match but left his team mates all at sea in the 81st minute. An under hit Matthews pass out from the back intended for Andy Bonham was intercepted by Rory Dowd who carried the ball into the Pirates box before squaring to the unmarked Kyle Cooper who rolled the ball into the unguarded net for his second and Saints sixth goal of the afternoon.

The woodwork denied Cooper his hat-trick with two minutes remaining after the young striker had been found in the box by Ruaridh Horne. Cooper turned away from Jordan Serries and struck low to Scott Matthews’ left but was left frustrated when the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced back into the grateful arms of the Pirates’ keeper.

Mr Litster brought proceedings to a close after three added minutes with both sets of players happy to escape the heat, although the continuing ban on the use of showers and changing rooms would leave the visitors in particular with an uncomfortable journey home.

The build-up to the new season continues this Saturday when Saints welcome old adversaries Thorn Athletic to the Oban Community 3G pitch for the first non competitive meeting of the two former Scottish Amateur Football League sides.