Good things come in threes for Oban Saints

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West of Scotland Amateur Cup third round

Oban Saints 3

Westerlands 3

Oban Saints win 3-1 on penalties

They say ‘good things come in threes’ and that was the case for Oban Saints at the weekend.

Three penalty shoot-out saves from Saints goalkeeper Graham ‘Sugar’ Douglas saw the Oban side win their round three West of Scotland Cup tie at Glencruitten on Saturday after three goals each from the hosts and Caledonian League visitors Westerlands saw the lead change hands three times during the regulation 90 minutes.

After a goalless first half, the Glencruitten faithful who had braved the heavy rain were treated to six goals in a thrilling second period before the added bonus of a nerve jangling penalty shoot-out.

Manager Willie Gemmell’s team selection options were given a boost when stalwart defender Steven MacLeod shook off his ankle injury and new dad Fraser MacFarlane returned from paternity leave. Lewis Cameron, however, failed to recover sufficiently from the bruising encounter against St Patrick’s FP seven days earlier and Daniel MacCuish served his one match suspension for the red card picked up against Castlemilk Dynamo.

Saints lined up with Graham Douglas in goal behind a back four of Cammy Hill, Steven MacLeod, Dene Cassells and Scott Maitland. Myles McAuley and Gavin Forgrieve anchored the midfield with David Beaton, Matty Kelly and captain Craig MacEwan behind central striker Kyle Cooper. Providing experience on the bench alongside youngsters Thomas McCrindle and Louie MacFarlane were Willie Gemmell, Ross Maitland and Fraser MacFarlane.

Attacking the railway line end in the first half, Saints were moving the ball around well enough but without the necessary urgency to trouble the Westerlands back four.

When Matty Kelly did manage to get behind wide on the right his cross into the six-yard box looped over the head of David Beaton before being thumped clear.

The visitors took route one for their first serious attack which came in the 22nd minute from a Fraser Russell goal kick. The big central defender’s long kick was flicked on by Scott McFarlane into the path of Brian Maybin who found his route into the Saints box blocked by Cammy Hill. The loose ball was keenly contested by Jack Halley and Scott Maitland with referee Robert Doolan penalising the Saints left full back. Scott McFarlane curled the resulting free-kick high over Graham Douglas’ crossbar.

Saints threatened again on the right after 28 minutes when Cammy Hill’s overlapping run was picked out by Myles McAuley. Hill’s cutback along the six-yard line was well cut out by Westerlands skipper Calum Windram with Craig MacEwan, Gavin Forgrieve and Kyle Cooper all closing in.

The goal-less first half was no indication of the goal avalanche which was to follow in the second period which was only 60 seconds old when it produced the first on target effort of the match. Ewan Dempster made good progress on the Westerlands left and picked out Jack Halley in the middle for a shot from 18 yards which Graham Douglas held comfortably.

Westerlands young keeper Daniel MacDonald remained untested as firstly Matthew Kelly couldn’t direct a difficult header from a Cammy Hill cross on target before another Hill right wing cutback eluded the chasing Saints pack.

The deadlock was broken after 55 minutes when Scott Maitland and Craig MacEwan combined well on the left for MacEwan to pick out Matty Kelly’s supporting run through the middle. Kelly was at full stretch to make a solid connection with MacEwan’s cross sending the ball into the top corner past Daniel MacDonald’s right hand.

Kyle Cooper’s 57th minute left foot effort from the edge of the Westerlands box curled over the crossbar as Saints stepped up their search for a second goal.

The home side’s good start to the second half was undone on the half hour mark when the visitors capitalised fully on cheaply conceded Saints possession. Jack Halley’s shot was too powerful for Graham Douglas to hold and luck deserted the Saints number one when his parry fell into the path of Ryan McGregor for a simple finish.

Westerlands made a triple substitution replacing Jack Halley, Scott McFarlane and Ewan Dempster with Fraser Gordon, Calum McCrossan and Thomas Thomsen.

Matty Kelly was denied a second goal in the 63rd minute when he followed in on a Craig MacEwan shot which Daniel MacDonald could only parry. Kelly reached the loose ball ahead of MacDonald and Stephen Stewart, only for Stewart’s central defensive partner Fraser Russell to get back on the goal line to make an acrobatic clearance.

Westerlands got their noses in front with 20 minutes remaining from a tempting Kristian Gega free-kick. Gega’s pinpoint delivery from the left was met perfectly by Calum Windram whose classic downward header from two yards out gave Graham Douglas no chance.

Saints manager Willie Gemmell made an instant change sending on Ross Maitland to replace Cammy Hill, however, it was the visitors who threatened again two minutes later with Graham Douglas standing up well to block a close range Calum McCrossan effort.

There was a large slice of good fortune surrounding Saints equaliser in the 77th minute. Daniel MacDonald got his right hand to a long range Gavin Forgrieve shot but only succeeded in pushing the ball back towards his own goal-line. The young keeper scrambled back to claw the ball out from between the posts, however, despite the Westerlands protests, referee Doolan ruled the ball had crossed the line.

From the re-start the visitors once again demonstrated their threat from set pieces when Kristian Gega’s free-kick from the right was met by a diving header from Brian Maybin which Graham Douglas held well.

Saints hit the front with seven minutes remaining when Matty Kelly picked out Craig MacEwan after a strong cross-field run from right to left. MacEwan held the ball up well before slipping a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Myles McAuley who thumped the ball into the net from 12 yards.

The visitors introduced exiled Obanite Elliot Dougall adding height to their attack for the closing stages while Saints sent on Fraser MacFarlane for Kyle Cooper.

Saints’ lead lasted just three minutes before a set-piece once again proved to be Saints’ undoing. Kristian Gega’s delivery from the right this time found Calum McCrossan who powered a header from nine yards past a rooted Graham Douglas.

In the second of the three additional minutes, David Beaton controlled a Craig MacEwan flick-on from a Myles McAuley throw-in on the right and thumped the ball into the side netting from a tight angle before Mr Doolan, who had a good match, blew for full time and signalled for a penalty shoot-out.

Steven MacLeod strode up purposefully for the first kick which Daniel MacDonald saved well low to his right. Graham Douglas, however, immediately levelled things up when he dropped to his left to save Ryan McGregor’s effort.

Myles McAuley took Saints’ second penalty but failed to hit the target leaving the score level at 0 – 0.

Westerlands skipper Calum Windram got the scoring under way with Dene Cassells levelling immediately for Saints.

Graham Douglas flung himself to his right to push away Kristian Gega’s strike and regain the initiative for his side and Fraser MacFarlane made no mistake with his attempt before Graham Douglas made it ‘match point’ to Saints with his third save, this time foiling Fraser Gordon.

Craig MacEwan held his nerve and successfully converted his spot kick to send his side into the fourth round.

This Saturday, November 27, Saints resume their search for their first home league points of the season when they welcome Uddingston Anvil to Glencruitten in the Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division.

Match report by Derek Black.