Four out of ten for out-of-sorts Saints

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Oban Saints 4
Fallin 6
Central Scottish AFL
Premier Division

A disastrous 18 minute spell at the end of the second half saw Oban Saints throw away a two-goal lead to hand visitors Fallin the three points at Glencruitten last Saturday.

Goals from Kyle Cooper, Dene Cassells, Cammy Hill and Daniel MacCuish had the home side 4 – 2 ahead going in to the closing stages of the Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division encounter, however, the visitors staged a stunning comeback in the torrential rain to bag four late goals and edge out the out-of-sorts Saints.

Craig MacEwan and Ruaridh Horne remained on the side lines through injury and Donald Campbell is back working in England, however, David Beaton was passed fit to take his place on the substitute’s bench.

Saints opened the scoring after just four minutes with their first strike on goal. Scott Maitland, Daniel MacCuish and Lewis Cameron combined well on the left before Cameron found Kyle Cooper on the edge of the Fallin box. Cooper’s early right foot shot caught out Central Scottish Amateur Football League Select goalkeeper Michael Watson curling past his left hand on its way into the net.

Watson gave a glimpse of the form which has caught the attention of select manager Colin Hamilton with a finger tip save to push a thumping 14th minute Lewis Cameron 30-yard drive onto his crossbar.

The visitors were gifted a highly controversial equaliser in the 31st minute after Saints had repelled a good spell of Fallin pressure. After a Stuart Henderson corner kick had been knocked out of the box, the clearly offside Andrew McGown was picked out by Alastair Brown’s pass through the advancing Saints defence. Referee Chris Costello somehow failed to spot the offside and the big central defender gladly slotted the ball past Graham Douglas.

Willie Gemmell allowed his incredulity at the referee’s decision to boil over and to rub salt into the already gaping Saints wound Mr Costello brandished the red card in the Saints gaffer’s direction.

Coaches Ross Maitland and Peter MacCallum and secretary David Buchanan took the reigns in the gaffer’s absence and were forced into a half-time change when Kyle Cooper’s troublesome groin injury flared up again. David Beaton, himself just back from a lengthy lay-off, was the replacement, taking up a wide right position with James Ford moving to centre forward.

Ford made an early impact in his new central role, creating space in the box for a low shot which Michael Watson saved well to his right. Saints kept the pressure on through Scott Maitland and Daniel MacCuish who was felled in the box giving referee Costello a straight forward decision to award a penalty kick. Dene Cassells stepped up and buried the spot kick in the bottom corner to put Saints back in front.

Saints’ good start to the second period continued with David Beaton forcing a corner kick on the right from where Lewis Cameron’s delivery was flicked on at the front post and prodded home at the back post by Cammy Hill for Saints’ third goal.

The home side made their second and final change of the afternoon on the hour mark sending on Myles McAuley to replace Gavin Forgrieve.

Saints were still adjusting to the personnel change when the visitors pulled one back 60 seconds later with a wonder strike from Stuart Henderson. Disappointingly from a Saints perspective, the Fallin wide man was allowed far too much time and space to measure his thumping effort from 30 yards which flew into the top corner past the despairing right hand of Graham Douglas.

Scott Maitland’s driving run on the left was unceremoniously halted by Stuart Henderson at the expense of a free-kick. From the dead ball, Lewis Cameron picked out Daniel MacCuish on the edge of the box who made space for a low shot which fizzed past Michael Watson to reinstate Saints’ two goal advantage.

Matty Kelly came within inches of extending the lead further with a left foot shot from 22 yards which left Watson rooted to the spot as the ball shaved the outside of his left hand post.

A moment to forget from Saints number one Graham Douglas gifted Fallin the goal which kick-started their comeback. Douglas completely misjudged the flight of an Andrew McGown cross field pass looking for Stuart Henderson. With the Saints keeper stranded at the corner of his box the ball took a wicked bounce towards goal and was ushered into the unguarded net by Henderson who resisted the temptation to apply a finishing touch ensuring the goal credit for McGown.

Graham Douglas redeemed his earlier error saving well low down to his left to deny Kyle Imrie after the second half substitute had jinked his way into the Saints box on the Fallin left.

An inspired substitution from the Fallin management team saw replacement Andrew Mochan score with his first touch, racing in at the back post to poke home a cutback from fellow substitute Kyle Imrie after less than 60 seconds on the field.

Having dealt with the long throw threat of Stephen Donaghy throughout the preceding 83 minutes, the Saints defence finally succumbed to the considerable weapon in the Fallin armoury in the 84th minute. Donaghy’s throw from the left into the Saints six- yard box was headed down by Cammy Hill, but Kyle Imrie was first to the second ball and hooked a close range effort in at the front post to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match.

Saints gambled on pushing extra men forward in search of an equaliser but couldn’t find a way through the Fallin defence and were punished again on the counter attack in the dying seconds.

Another Saints attack was closed down midway inside the Fallin half with the ball being quickly sent forward for Stephen Donaghy to chase. Donaghy got away from Myles McAuley on the left and picked out Kyle Imrie at the back post for the substitute to complete his brace and round off a disappointing afternoon for Saints and their loyal support.

Saints face another massive Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division test this Saturday when they travel to face 2019/20 League Division One Champions Castlemilk Dynamo. The game will take place at Barlia Sports Centre 3G with a 2pm kick-off.

Match report: Derek Black.