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A sickening collision between Oban Saints Vice Captain Scott Maitland and St Patrick’s FP goalkeeper Domonic Donaldson brought last Saturday’s Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division clash at Glencruitten to a premature end.
With both players fully committed to winning a loose ball in the St Pat’s penalty area it was the Saints Scottish Amateur internationalist who came off worst, being knocked out cold and requiring attention from the paramedics before a visit to the Lorn and the Islands District General Hospital.
After consultation with both badly shaken camps, referee Stephen Payne made the correct decision to abandon the match with 37 minutes remaining and Saints holding a slender one goal lead.
Injuries and non-availability of key players continue to restrict manager Willie Gemmell’s options and it was an unfamiliar and untested starting 11 which took the field against reigning Premier Division Champions St Patrick’s FP.
Saints lined up with Graham Douglas in goal behind a back four of Ross Maitland, Steven MacLeod, Cammy Hill and Scott Maitland. Donald Campbell and Andy King anchored the midfield with Kyle Cooper, Matty Kelly and Fraser MacFarlane behind central striker Craig MacEwan. On the bench were Cammy Clark and Jack Wright.
Saints number one Graham Douglas was brought into the action in the third minute making a smart save at his near post after St Pat’s Skipper Kevin McElroy had forced his way into the Saints box on the left. Referee Stephen Payne had allowed McElroy to continue despite an infringement by Steven MacLeod and flashed the first yellow card of the afternoon in MacLeod’s direction.
Saints responded with a Kyle Copper effort from the right which flashed across the face of goal out of reach for the supporting Fraser MacFarlane and just wide of keeper Domonic Donaldson’s right hand post.
St Pat’s left back Ryan McColl was the next entry in Mr Payne’s notebook for a late challenge on Cooper and he was joined there in the twenty fourth minute by Skipper Kevin McElroy for dissent.
The visitors had their own selection problems and were forced to promote second team keeper Domonic Donaldson to first team duties. Donaldson acquitted himself well and made a good save at his near post when young Kyle Cooper threatened again in the 27th minute.
As you would expect in such a competitive league both sides were fully committed to the cause and Mr Payne’s notebook and pencil were out again after 28 minutes when Scottish Amateur international striker Ciaran McElroy slid in late on Matty Kelly.
Graham Douglas showed a safe pair of hands to hold a Matthew Devine shot after a rare lapse in concentration from Cammy Hill who slotted in well at centre half alongside the experienced Steven MacLeod.
The ever dependable MacLeod was in inspirational form and denied Luke Gray with an excellent 36th minute sliding block.
The visitors had the ball in the net in the 38th minute when Kevin McElroy tucked away Ryan McColl’s left wing cross, however Referee Payne spotted that McElroy had strayed offside at the far post.
A patient Saints build up involving Donald Campbell, Matty Kelly, Craig MacEwan and Kyle Cooper sent Scott Maitland scurrying into the St Pat’s box where Jon Gray was quickly across with a timely interception at the expense of a corner kick. Ross Maitland’s delivery from the left was knocked back out to the evergreen Player/Coach who swung over a delightful ball to the back post for the run of Andy King. Sliding in at full stretch King did well to connect with Maitland’s cross but could only direct the ball wide of target.
With manager Willie Gemmell unavailable it fell to coach Maitland to deliver the half-time appeal for more of the same from the makeshift Saints 11 who were holding their own against the reigning League Champions.
After just 60 second half seconds Kevin McElroy fizzed a shot from the corner of the Saints box across Graham Douglas and narrowly wide of the far post. From the goal kick Saints worked their way into opposition territory where Craig MacEwan did well to hold up a Donald Campbell pass before laying the ball off to Kyle Cooper on the edge of the box who curled a delightful finish past Domonic Donaldson to opening the scoring.
Saints almost doubled their advantage two minutes later with MacEwan again providing the lay-off this time for Donald Campbell whose low shot was turned around the post by the outstretched right foot of Domonic Donaldson.
The home side had their tails up and were enjoying their best spell of the match when disaster struck. Scott Maitland raced into the St Pat’s box trying to reach a loose ball which keeper Donaldson also had his sights set on. The two collided at full speed with Maitland suffering a blow to the head from Donaldson’s knee which knocked the Saints man out cold.
The entirely blameless Donaldson immediately screamed for help for his stricken opponent which was provided by veteran Saints goalkeeper David Dunlop who did an excellent job in keeping Maitland stable until the paramedics arrived.
With concerns for Maitland’s safety foremost in everybody’s minds there was little appetite amongst the players to restart the action and Mr Payne abandoned the fixture.
After a thorough examination and CT scan the sore and groggy Maitland was released from the Lorn and the Islands District General Hospital on Saturday night and is expected to make a full recovery.
This coming Saturday Saints are on West of Scotland Amateur Cup duty when they welcome Harestanes to Glencruitten in a second round tie which must be decided on the day with penalty kicks to decide the winner if the sides cannot be separated after ninety minutes.
The kick off for the game is 1.30pm.