Saints’ strik­ers do the busi­ness

The Oban Times - - 30 Sport -

af­ter a good move up the left wing - a low cross to the near post looked easy enough for the Saints de­fence to deal with but, de­spite sev­eral at­tempts, the dan­ger wasn’t cleared and EK cen­tre for­ward, Dougie Ryan, bun­dled the ball over the line to give the visi­tors the lead.

Saints fell fur­ther be­hind in the twelfth minute to another scrappy goal af­ter Wil­lie Gem­mell failed to deal with a long ball through the mid­dle. Once again sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties to clear the dan­ger were spurned be­fore a shot from the edge of the box by Wil­lie Hast­ings de­flected off Dene Cas­sells, com­pletely wrong foot­ing Thomas McCul­loch to dou­ble the visi­tor’s ad­van­tage.

Lewis Cameron was be­gin­ning to en­joy some de­gree of suc­cess on the right and won a twenty fifth minute cor­ner from which he found the head of Myles McAu­ley, but the Saints midfielder was un­able to di­rect his header on tar­get. Two min­utes later, Craig MacEwan and Don­nie Camp­bell linked up well on the edge of the box to set up a shoot­ing op­por­tu­nity. Don­nie shifted the ball onto his right foot open­ing up space for a curl­ing shot which went nar­rowly wide of the keeper’s left hand post. On the half hour mark, Lewis Cameron made another good run up the Saints right and de­liv­ered a tempt­ing cross into the mid­dle where Dean Smith’s spec­tac­u­lar goal-bound bi­cy­cle kick was blocked by the EK de­fence.

Saints were cer­tainly play­ing some bet­ter stuff now and came close again with another curl­ing Don­nie Camp­bell ef­fort over the cross­bar af­ter a Dean Smith cut back on the left wing.

With next week­end’s Rhu tour­na­ment in mind, Alex Craik made three half-time sub­sti­tu­tions re­plac­ing Scott Mait­land, Keith Mil­lar and Dean Smith with Jamie Graham, Paul Kerr and Allan MacKay.

The home side were be­gin­ning to get be­hind the EK de­fence with full backs, Martin Bonar and Jamie Graham, over­lap­ping well on the wings and only the fi­nal ball was lack­ing.

Saints even­tu­ally made the break­through in the 56th minute from a short Lewis Cameron free kick af­ter Allan MacKay had been fouled twenty five yards out. Lewis played the ball short to Don­nie Camp­bell who tricked his way into the left hand side of the box be­fore pick­ing out Allan MacKay on the six yard line who rolled the ball into the net from his favourite dis­tance.

On the hour mark, Martin Bonar made way for Ross Mait­land to make his first pre-sea­son ap­pear­ance.

Saints drew level in the 67th minute again from a Lewis Cameron free kick won by Allan MacKay.

From twenty eight yards out and slightly left of cen­tre, Lewis struck a pow­er­ful shot past the EK wall beat­ing the keeper’s left hand but not the post. With Ross Mait­land and Allan MacKay wait­ing to pounce on the re­bound, the ball came back off the post, hit the goal­keeper on the back of the head and bounced into the net.

Saints re­gained pos­ses­sion straight from the restart and launched a light­ning quick counter at­tack send­ing Ross Mait­land tear­ing up the right wing to de­liver a fizzing cross which evaded Allan MacKay in the cen­tre but was di­verted into the net by Craig MacEwan’s out­stretched leg at the back post to give Saints the lead.

Saints had their tails up now and were play­ing some ex­cel­lent football, keep­ing the home crowd roy­ally en­ter­tained.

With ten min­utes re­main­ing Alex Craik made his fi­nal changes with­draw­ing Lewis Cameron and Craig MacEwan and re­plac­ing them with Matty Kelly and Kevin Keen.

EK kept plug­ging away and the eye- catch­ing Scott Had­den jinked his way into the right­hand side of the Saints box and picked out Calum Robert­son on the edge of the box, but he shot high and wide of tar­get.

Ref­eree Lit­ster, who had a good game, brought pro­ceed­ings to a close shortly there­after with Saints win­ning an en­ter­tain­ing game by the odd goal in five.

Man­ager Craik was rea­son­ably happy with the per­for­mance. He said: ‘ We got off to a bad start los­ing two poor goals, some­thing we will need to take a look at, but af­ter that we played some good football against an ex­cel­lent EK side. I was de­lighted that three strik­ers got on the score­sheet and I am pleased with the fit­ness lev- els of the play­ers, they have been work­ing re­ally hard at train­ing.’

Saints now take to the road where they will hope to keep their good pre-sea­son form go­ing at the Rhu in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment cel­e­brat­ing 120 years of Rhu Am­a­teur Football Club.

Saints take on Rhu in the first game, kick­ing off at 11am then they play old ri­vals, Greenock HSFP.

ON THE BALL: Myles McAu­ley in ac­tion dur­ing Satur­day’s match.

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