Narrow defeat for Saints

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Central Scottish AFL
Premier Division

Oban Saints 0 
Harestanes 1

After their recent 9-1 thrashing at the hands of Lesmahagow, Saints faced another tough challenge when they took on high flying Harestanes at Glencruitten last Saturday.

Manager Willie Gemmell had most of his squad back after missing the Lesmahagow game and made five changes with Graham Douglas, Scott Maitland, Myles McAuley, Matty Kelly and Ross Maitland coming into the starting line-up.

Harestanes started the better of the two teams and Liam Johnston sent a header past the post in the first minute. Paul McLaughlin had another good chance in the 16th minute but Saints keeper Graham Douglas made a fine save.

Saints were under a lot of pressure in the first half, but stout defending from Steven MacLeod and Dene Cassells kept the eager Stanes’ forwards at bay.

The home side came close in the 25th minute when a Lewis Cameron shot was well saved by young Stanes’ keeper Mathew Lewis who pushed the ball out for a corner with Dene Cassells heading the resultant kick over the bar.

Saints lost the services of Cammy Hill through injury with 16-year-old Kyle Cooper coming on and Ross Maitland moving to right back.

The interval arrived with the Kirkintilloch side having the better of the first 45 minutes but Saints were still very much in the game and in fact nearly took the lead in the first minute of the second period when a Kyle Cooper header was brilliantly touched over the bar by Mathew Lewis.

The visiting keeper was in action again when he saved from Kyle Cooper who had been sent through on goal by a slide-rule Craig MacEwan pass. The home side were claiming the ball had crossed the goal line but referee Tom Cavanagh waved away their claims

The Oban side lost the services of David Beaton with the recurrence of a hamstring injury, his place being taken by the experienced Donnie Campbell who is still gaining match fitness after being out of the game for a while. He was quickly into the action but his shot from 18-yards screamed over the bar as did one from Lewis Cameron two minutes later.

Harestanes took the lead in the 69th minute when the Saints’ defenders switched off after Myles McAuley had given away a free kick. The ball was swung into the box and Paul McLachlin sneaked in behind the Saints’ defence to head the ball past Graham Douglas and into the net.

The D & K Lafferty Contractors and MKM Building Supplies sponsored Oban outfit made another substitution in the 75th minute replacing Matty Kelly with Gavin Forgrieve.

The game was flowing from end to end as it entered the final stages and the visitors have James Mulvay to thank for a great block on the six-yard line to stop a Donnie Campbell goal-bound effort.

There was no further scoring with the visitors picking up a good three points away from home in a hard-fought encounter.

Saints Gaffer Willie Gemmell was a lot happier this week. He said: ‘It took us a while to get into the match, but after we settled down we gave as good as we got. We just switched off at the goal and you can’t afford to do that at this level against an experienced team like Harestanes.’

The Kirkintilloch outfit are back in Oban again on Saturday September 18 in the first round of the West of Scotland Cup, where another cracking game is anticipated.

This Saturday Saints take on old rivals St Patrick’s FP, last season’s Central Scottish Premier Division winners. The game will take place at Glen 2 with a 2pm kick-off. Referee in charge is Stephen Payne.