Saints march on in West of Scotland Cup

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Uddingston Anvil 0
Oban Saints 2
West of Scotland Cup – fourth round

Oban Saints’ twice-postponed West of Scotland Amateur Cup fourth round tie against Uddingston Anvil finally got under way at the Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex last Saturday afternoon.

Having previously fallen victim to high covid numbers and snow, the all Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division tie went ahead on the all-weather surface in Bellshill where first half goals from Cammy Hill and Daniel MacCuish saw the visitors prevail.

Manager Willie Gemmell was forced to make three changes to the starting 11 which had rounded off 2021 with a home win against Gartcosh United giving a starting role to young Thomas McCrindle in central defence and a debut in central midfield to new signing James Conington. To complete the changes, veteran goalkeeper David Dunlop took the gloves for the second time this season.

James Conington. Photograph: Derek Black.

The hosts were looking for a repeat of their two-goal victory at Glencruitten when the two sides met ten weeks previously on league business but, despite having the better of the early exchanges, Uddingston got little change out of the previously untried Saints back three of Steven MacLeod, Myles McAuley and Thomas McCrindle.

Saints opened the scoring after 20 minutes when James Conington, who impressed on his debut in central midfield, won possession on the halfway line and found Cammy Hill on the left touchline. Hill played his way out of a tight situation with the help of Craig MacEwan and Matty Kelly and continued his run to get on the end of Kelly’s pass which sent him racing through on goal.

Hill held off the challenge of Ross Ferguson before wrong footing Anvil keeper David McKegney with a clipped finish into the bottom corner.

Hill was instrumental in Saints’ second goal when he showed Paul Finnigan and Christopher Mcaleney a clean pair of heels with another incisive run on the left. The flying wing back drew David McKegney off his line before squaring to Daniel MacCuish for a tap-in to double Saints’ advantage.

Kieron Markey’s late challenge on Cammy Hill earned the Anvil striker a booking two minutes into what would be a frustrating second half for the home side which could find no way through a solid Saints defensive performance.

A dipping 59th minute Alan Inch effort from 30 yards was probably Anvil’s best chance of the match but the ball was tipped over the bar by David Dunlop who was in no mood to give up his highly-prized clean sheet.

Saints responded with an off-target effort of their own when Gavin Forgrieve lifted a shot from 30 yards over the crossbar after good work on the left from Cammy Hill, James Conington and Craig MacEwan.

Saints’ gaffer Willie Gemmell made his first change after 65 minutes, replacing David Beaton with Kyle Cooper in a straight swap at right wing back.

A double block by Craig MacEwan from a 72nd minute Robert Dimmer free-kick personified the ‘they shall not pass’ Saints’ attitude which gave the home side little encouragement in their pursuit of a route back into the game.

Willie Gemmell made his second and final change with 15 minutes remaining replacing Daniel MacCuish with Ruaridh Horne. The change saw Kyle Cooper join Craig MacEwan up front with Horne taking the right wing back berth.

James Conington was denied a goal to round off an impressive debut when David McKegney saved his shot from 18 yards after Kyle Cooper had raced forward on the right from a good advantage played by referee David Cameron after Anvil substitute Ryan Hutchison had clattered into Matty Kelly on the halfway line.

Kelly will claim he hadn’t quite fully recovered from the challenge when he miscued his finish from 14 yards wide of the target from a Ruaridh Horne cross after Craig MacEwan led a counter-attack in the 90th minute.

Neither goalkeeper was troubled in the five additional minutes allowed by Mr Cameron before the final whistle confirmed Saints’ progress to the fifth round.

Awaiting Saints in the last 16 is an away tie against Giffnock North of the Caledonian League Premier Division, Glenburn Miners Welfare of the Ayrshire Premier League or Glynhill Moorcroft of the Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division.

This Saturday, Saints return to league business for the visit of Greenock High School Former Pupils. The game will be played at Glencruitten with a 2pm kick-off.

Saints new signing James Conington impressed in midfield.
Ross Ferguson and Daniel MacCuish, who netted Saints’ second goal.

Match report and photographs: Derek Black