Saints’ strikers do the business
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.