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Craven FC 1
Oban Saints 6
Oban Saints continued their pre-season schedule last Saturday when they made the 600-mile round trip to take on Craven Football Club, winners of the Burnley and District Sunday League and two cups this season.
They were expected to prove tough opposition for the Central Scottish AFL Premier Division outfit, but the English boys had no answer to the slick-moving Saints’ outfit.
Lewis Cameron, playing his first competitive game for nine months, opened the scoring in the tenth minute with a well-taken goal after fine build-up play.
Saints doubled their advantage in the 14th minute when Cameron, again, gave the keeper no chance after being set up by Kyle Cooper.
To their credit, Craven were battling hard but the Saints defence were dealing with most things the home side could throw at them and anything that did get through was dealt with by keeper Graham Douglas.
Craven’s Mickey White pulled a goal back three minutes after the re-start, but any thoughts of a comeback were dashed two minutes later when Cammy Clark was sent clear and calmly dispatched the ball past the advancing keeper to make the score 3-1.
Also making a welcome return to the squad was Donald Campbell and he was unlucky on a couple of occasions with Craven’s goalkeeper Declan Hughes denying him with two good saves with his legs.
The visitors increased their lead in the 61st minute when new signing Connor Moore slammed the ball past the helpless keeper.
Manager Ross Maitland rotated his squad throughout the match, giving all the players plenty of game time.
As the home side began to tire, Saints’ superior fitness started to show and when they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal, Lewis Cameron stepped up to curl a beauty into the postage stamp corner of the net for his hat-trick.
With five minutes remaining, Gavin Forgrieve curled a great shot into the bottom corner of the net giving the keeper no chance to make the final score 6-1.
Manager Ross Maitland was delighted with the result and the way it was achieved. He said: ‘We played some great football and it was good to see all the boys contributing to a fine performance. I managed to give all the lads game time which is important as we approach the start of the new season.
‘Craven were a good side and maybe the scoreline flattered us a bit, but I was delighted with the trip, both on the pitch and the social side.’
The Saints squad was: Graham Douglas; Ruaridh Horne; Jack Wright; Aidan Campbell; Thomas McCrindle; Daniel MacCuish; Lewis Cameron; Gavin Forgrieve; Cammy Clark; Fraser MacFarlane; Donald Campbell; Cammy Hill; Kyle Cooper; Connor Moore and Ross Maitland although the gaffer didn’t play.
Matty Kelly was also meant to be in the squad but, unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident on Friday night and was unable to travel. The good news is he wasn’t seriously injured.
After the match, players and officials from both clubs retired to the Craven Heifer for food and refreshments where Saints club secretary David Buchanan presented the Craven man-of-the-match trophy to keeper Declan Hughes. He also presented Craven manager Chris ‘Ted’ Rogers with a Shona Dunn designed plaque with the Oban Saints club badge and a bottle of Oban malt whisky.
Saints return closer to home on Saturday when they take on old friends and rivals Greenock HSPP in a pre-season friendly at Glen 2 with a 1.30pm kick-off. Greenock are also bringing up their second team who will take on Oban Saints GG at Oban High School, also with a 1.30pm kick-off.