Challenge Cup exit for Saints GG

Oban Saints' James Ford is marked closely by Paul Slavin. Photograph: Derek Black.

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Oban Saints GG 2
Duncanrig 4
Bobby Thomson Cup

Heavy overnight rain forced the postponement of Oban Saints’ scheduled Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division clash with Bannockburn at Glencruitten, leaving the club’s second string, Oban Saints GG, to take centre stage at Oban High School last Saturday afternoon.

The Greater Glasgow Premier Amateur Football League Bobby Thomson Challenge Cup second round tie with Duncanrig kept the large home crowd entertained with the tie in the balance until the dying seconds when the visitors sealed victory in stoppage time.

Saints GG manager Donald Black’s team selection woes continued with a string of call-offs forcing him once again to turn to the first team squad for help.

First team manager Willie Gemmell was happy to oblige and supplied James Ford and Thomas McCrindle, who were both in need of game time. Also answering the call was veteran Paul Kerr who shut the Floorshop early to provide an experienced head in central midfield.

Visitors Duncanrig, who currently sit in second place in the Greater Glasgow Amateur Premier Amateur Football League Division 3A, started strongly with Saints struggling to come to terms with the latest enforced personnel changes.

Early pressure bore fruit for the visitors after eight minutes when Paul Slavin’s vicious in-swinging corner kick from the right was punched into the roof of his own net by Murdo Mackenzie.

Duncanrig doubled their advantage two minutes later from another Slavin corner kick which the Saints’ defence failed to clear after several attempts, the ball eventually finding its way to Jack Belshaw who had space and time to slot low past the wrong footed Mackenzie.

Paul Kerr rolled back the years with an influential performance in the middle of the park and found Aaron McKay with a long ball in the 21st minute. McKay took the ball down well and played in Lennon Campbell for a shot which was deflected just wide of the target.

The resurgent Saints were denied twice in quick succession by Duncanrig keeper Ryan Hendry who acrobatically tipped over a dipping Thomas McCrindle shot before pushing Paul Kerr’s header from Aaron McKay’s delivery from the corner flag over for another corner kick.

The woodwork came to Saints’ rescue on the stroke of half time when the home defence were caught in possession playing out from the back, with Jack Belshaw nipping in to smack a shot off Murdo Mackenzie’s right hand post.

Saints made a promising start to the second half with Paul Kerr and Aaron McKay both coming close with shots from the edge of the Duncanrig box.

Donald Black made his first changes after 53 minutes, sending on Fraser MacFarlane and James Ford to replace Thomas McCrindle and Lennon Campbell.

Saints’ failure to deal with a corner kick cost them dearly again in the 55th minute. Paul Slavin’s delivery from the left was headed out to the edge of the box and the unmarked Kyle McCaskell sent a stunning strike past a static Murdo Mackenzie to reinstate the visitors’ two goal advantage.

Duncanrig keeper Ryan Hendry needed two attempts to gather Ruaridh Munro’s dipping 67th minute effort from 28 yards as Saints resumed their efforts for a route back into the match.

Alex Carson brought Saints back into contention with 11 minutes remaining. Carson’s attempted cross on the run from the right deceived Ryan Hendry who was left clawing at thin air as the ball flew into the top corner.

Alan Buchanan and Lewis Campbell replaced Ruaridh Munro and Ollie Sharp for the closing stages during which Saints battled hard for an equaliser which would take the tie to a penalty shoot-out.

The Duncanrig defence was doing a good job of protecting their goalkeeper but when Hendry was finally called into action, he made an excellent save low to his left to push away a net bound James Ford shot from 22 yards.

With Saints pushing everything they had into their bid for an equaliser, they were picked off on the counter-attack in the second of the four additional minutes allowed by referee Martin Rae. Andrew Barclay was left one-on-one with Jack Belshaw who raced away from the youngster to slot the ball past Murdo Mackenzie and seal his side’s progress to the third round.

This Saturday, Oban Saints’ first team host high flying Lesmahagow in the Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division. Saints GG have a free week.

Alex Carson celebrates his goal. Photograph: Derek Black.

Match report and photographs: Derek Black