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Central Scottish Amateur Football League
Oban Saints 2 Castlemilk Dynamo 1
A second half brace from teenage striker Kyle Cooper secured three valuable Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division points for Oban Saints at Oban High School last Saturday afternoon.
The D&K Lafferty Contractors and MKM Builders Merchants sponsored home side had to come from behind to edge out 2020 Division One Champions Castlemilk Dynamo who had taken a 16th minute lead through a deflected Gregg Twaddle effort.
The disappointingly poor state of the grass at Glencruitten forced a switch of venue to the artificial surface at Oban High School which had recently benefitted from maintenance work.
Suspension kept manager Willie Gemmell away from the touchline so coaches Ross Maitland and Peter MacCallum and secretary David Buchanan took charge of team affairs. The management team’s options were restricted by the absence of David Beaton and Fraser MacFarlane who remain injured while Gavin Forgrieve served the final instalment of his three match suspension.
Saints lined up with Graham Douglas in goal behind a back four of Jack Wright, Steven MacLeod, Thomas McCrindle and Scott Maitland. Holding the midfield were Myles McAuley and Daniel MacCuish with James Ford, Matty Kelly and captain Craig MacEwan behind central striker Kyle Cooper. On the bench were James Conington and Alex Craik.
When the two sides met six months previously in the reverse league fixture, Dene Cassells was Saints two-goal hero in a share of the spoils at Toryglen. The now retired Cassells was one of six changes to the starting line-up for round 17 of Saints inaugural Central Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division campaign. The visitors were also much changed with just seven survivors from the previous encounter joining the severely depleted 12-man travelling party.
Saints started brightly and had an early appeal for a penalty kick dismissed by referee Pat O’Donnell when a Kyle Cooper cross from the left was prevented from reaching intended target Craig MacEwan by a Dynamo arm.
Cooper’s pace was causing problems for the visitors’ defence but twice when in behind the Dynamo back line the teenage striker failed to test goalkeeper Christopher Hanley.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play when Gregg Twaddle intercepted a Thomas McCrindle pass from the back. Despite the combined efforts of McCrindle and central defensive partner Steven MacLeod, Twaddle got his shot away from the edge of the Saints box where a heavy deflection sent the ball spinning over Graham Douglas and into the net.
Saints responded well to going behind, but the Dynamo rear guard with Wullie Hewitt at its heart defended doggedly with vital last gasp interceptions to deny Kyle Cooper and Craig MacEwan.
Teenage central defender Thomas McCrindle made a good connection with a 36th minute corner kick from the left but his solid downward header was well held by Christopher Hanley in the Dynamo goal.
Hanley was called into action again just before the interval when Craig MacEwan jinked into the Dynamo box on the left but, under pressure from Dominic Larkin, the skipper couldn’t generate enough power in his finish to beat Hanley who made a comfortable save.
The home side made the perfect start to the second half drawing level after just two minutes. Myles McAuley won possession on the halfway line and fed Jack Wright on the right. Wright cut inside and sent Craig MacEwan away on the left from where the skipper lofted a left foot cross onto the head of Kyle Cooper who nodded home from six yards.
The visitors responded straight from the re-start with skipper Connaire Dawson driving into the Saints box on the right forcing Graham Douglas into a smart save at his near post.
The woodwork came to Dynamo’s rescue in the 50th minute when from a short Myles McAuley free-kick Craig MacEwan peeled out wide on the left to receive a Thomas McCrindle pass. MacEwan again sent over an inviting cross which Matty Kelly dived to head onto the crossbar with Christopher Hanley well beaten.
A 52nd minute flick-on from Craig MacEwan was anticipated well by Kyle Cooper, however, the teenage striker’s low-powered finish was comfortably fielded by the Dynamo keeper.
Dynamo’s main threat came from set-pieces and Graham Douglas produced a fine save to deny Connaire Dawson in the 55th minute throwing himself to his right to push behind the Dynamo skipper’s 22 yard free-kick.
Another shot off target from Kyle Cooper lead to Saints doubling their advantage after 58 minutes. After Cooper had sent a promising opportunity wide of Christopher Hanley’s right hand post, the Dynamo keeper scuffed his goal-kick straight back to Cooper who this time made no mistake in slotting past Hanley to complete his brace.
Graham Douglas was adjudged to have fouled Gregg Twaddle well outside of his penalty box in the 62nd minute when attempting to intercept a ball over the top. Referee Pat O’Donnell was satisfied a yellow card was sufficient punishment for the Saints number one who promptly redeemed his error with another flying save to deny Connaire Dawson.
Dynamo’s aerial threat from set-pieces was in evidence in the 73rd minute when Dominic Larkin powered a header from a Dawson corner kick on target. The value of having a man on the post was also evident when Jack Wright climbed well to head Larkin’s effort behind for another corner kick.
Injuries forced youngsters Kyle Cooper and Thomas McCrindle off with their places being taken by James Conington and Alex Craik. The visitors had even less options on the bench and used the only substitution available to them in the 75th minute when Samuel Edun replaced Anthony Quinn.
Graham Douglas continued his good display with a brave save at the feet of Gregg Twaddle in the 85th minute when another ball over the top had the Saints defence scampering back towards their own goal.
The visitors battled hard for an equaliser showing all of the determination which had propelled them to a five trophy haul in two seasons, but the Saints defence stood firm and it was the hosts who would come closest to adding to the scoring in the dying stages. A quick throw from Graham Douglas found Daniel MacCuish in the centre circle who turned away from Mark Blakey and raced through on goal. Christopher Hanley took the sting out of MacCuish’s left foot shot from the 18-yard line but couldn’t prevent the ball from crossing the goal line from where Alexander Tran hooked the ball away.
Crucially, referee O’Donnell was less convinced that the ball had crossed the line than the already celebrating Saints players and waved played on. Mr O’Donnell remained unmoved by the Saints appeals for the goal to stand, eventually flashing a yellow card in the direction of Matty Kelly.
There were four added minutes for the anxious home crowd to endure before referee O’Donnell, who had a good game, brought proceedings to a close confirming a much- needed three points for Saints.
This Saturday Saints travel to Wishaw Sports Centre to face Wishaw High School Former Pupils.