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West of Scotland Amateur Cup
Oban Saints 2
Just two weeks after their Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division clash at Glencruitten, Oban Saints and Harestanes met again at the same venue last Saturday, this time on West of Scotland Amateur Cup duty.
The Kirkintilloch men were looking to make it a double over the Premier Division new boys following their recent one-nil league win, while Saints welcomed the distraction from a difficult start to life in the top flight and a chance to get a first win of the season under their belts.
Injuries to key players continue to restrict manager Willie Gemmell’s options forcing the gaffer into a starting role in central defence alongside Dene Cassells with Steven MacLeod moving out to right back and Cammy Hill deputising for Scott Maitland at left-back. There was a welcome return for James Ford after a long spell out.
Saints lined up with Graham Douglas in goal behind a back four of Steven MacLeod, Dene Cassells, Willie Gemmell and Cammy Hill. Donald Campbell and Matty Kelly anchored the midfield with James Ford, Gavin Forgrieve and captain Craig MacEwan behind central striker Kyle Cooper. On the bench were Cammy Clark, Alex Craik, Myles McAuley and Fraser MacFarlane.
The hosts made a bright start attacking the railway line end in warm sunshine with just a light smattering of drizzle thrown in for good measure. Kyle Cooper’s driving run at the heart of the Harestanes defence in just the second minute was halted unceremoniously by Kevin Cawley with Gavin Forgrieve sending the resulting free-kick to the far post.
Cammy Hill’s header back into the danger area was thumped up to the halfway line where it was retrieved by Willie Gemmell. The gaffer found Craig MacEwan who sent Matty Kelly into the Harestanes box on the left whose cutback was curled just wide of the postage stamp corner by Gavin Forgrieve.
Saints number one Graham Douglas made the first of a number of good saves in the seventh minute when he got down well to his right to hold a Jonathan Black shot after the Harestanes centre-forward latched onto a James Mulvay ball over the top.
The visitors opened the scoring after 16 minutes of an entertaining and fiercely competitive encounter cruelling punishing a misplaced Saints pass just inside their own half. Aidan Quinn broke away on the Harestanes left and fired over a low cross which Jamie McPhee knocked home from close range.
Saints restored parity nine minutes before the interval after good work on the left from Kyle Cooper forced a corner kick. Gavin Forgrieve’s pin-point delivery from the corner flag picked out a well timed back post run from Cammy Hill who nodded the ball past Harestanes keeper Matthew Stewart.
A typically tricky James Ford run won a 39th minute throw-in on the right which the Harfestanes defence knocked out to Gavin Forgrieve for a low shot which fizzed inches wide of Matthew Stewart’s right hand post.
At the other end, a fantastic sliding block from Donald Campbell stopped a Jordan Pirrie shot after Willie Gemmell had headed out a Fraser Sheridan corner kick.
A quickly taken throw-in on the Harestanes left gave Pirrie the chance to try his luck again on the stroke of half-time with a shot from 25 yards which slipped just wide of target after Graham Douglas had come a long way out of his 18-yard box to send another long ball from James Mulvay into touch.
Saints kicked off the second half attacking the carpark end but it was the visitors who created the early chances. After sending an attempted lob from the halfway line well wide of target Fraser Sheridan came closer but still wide of the mark in the 51st minute. Sheridan did manage to test Graham Douglas in the 62nd minute with a low shot from an Aidan Quinn left wing cross but found the Saints number one equal to the task.
A head knock for teenage striker Kyle Cooper forced the home side into a change in the 64th minute which paid dividends within two minutes. Myles McAuley came on to partner Matty Kelly in midfield with Donald Campbell going up top to replace Cooper. McAuley was quickly involved winning possession in the centre circle and feeding Gavin Forgrieve who strode forward for a one-two with Donald Campbell. Forgrieve took the return pass from Campbell and played in Craig MacEwan to tuck under young Harestanes keeper Stewart and give Saints the lead.
Saints were almost caught cold straight from the re-start when Aidan Quinn was allowed time and space to fire in a fierce shot which Graham Douglas did well to hold.
It was Douglas to the rescue again in the 70th minute getting down well to his right to push a left foot strike from Harestanes substitute Greg Burns around the post. Saints defended the corner kick well and looked to hit on the counter-attack with Cammy Hill, Myles McAuley and Craig MacEwan all involved before Donald Campbell saw his shot well saved by Matthew Stewart
The visitors threw everything at it in the closing stages in search of an equaliser, including pushing central defender James Mulvay into attack, but were unable to find a way past a resolute home defence who dug in for a hard fought first win of the season which was very well received by the large home support.
Saints return to league business this Saturday with a trip to Greenock to face old friends and rivals Greenock High School Former Pupils.