Saints pick up first three points of the season
‘ We were very sluggish to start off with but came more into things as the game wore on’
Oban Saints Alba Thistle SAFL Premier Division SAINTS returned to winning ways against an impressive Alba Thistle side at Glencruitten last Saturday to lift themselves off the foot of the Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division.
Manager, Alex Craik, had his plans thrown into disarray when goalkeeper, Thomas McCulloch, called off with a badly cut finger. Veteran net minder, David Dunlop, answered the call and it was a reassuring sight for the Saints faithful to see the vastly experienced keeper taking care of business between the posts once again.
Saints didn’t get the start they would have liked and, due to a lack of urgency, it was Alba who had the first clear- cut chance.
Thistle striker, Gordon Meredith, edged his way in on goals and managed to get a shot away without a tackle being made, but just as well for Saints his shot trickled wide.
This might have been the wakeup call the Oban side needed.
Craig MacEwan almost opened the scoring in the 11th minute after getting on the end of a Lewis Cameron cross, but he couldn’t keep his header down and the ball drifted over the bar.
Saints then had the best chance of the game when David McArthur powered down the right -hand side, beat his man to the byline and drilled in a teasing low cross that found Craig MacEwan, who was at full stretch, but he couldn’t get enough on the ball to direct it into the net.
Alba striker, Gordon Meredith, who was a thorn in the flesh all afternoon, found himself with only David Dunlop to beat after a diagonal cross caught the Oban defence by surprise, but it too caught the Alba front man by surprise as the ball deflected off his thigh for a goal kick.
Saints composed themselves and created a chance of their own. Some good passing play and a dazzling run from Lewis Cameron allowed the Saints striker to get a shot on goal.
At the other end, David Dunlop was forced into making a fine diving save from a 25-yard shot from Jonathan McKay
Lewis Cameron then tested the Alba keeper from a similar distance, but his free kick was struck down the middle and the keeper was able to punch the ball to safety.
The D & K Lafferty-sponsored Saints started to take the game to Alba and were passing the ball about well and created a couple of reasonable chances.
The pressure eventually paid off with Saints opening the scoring five minutes before half-time through Craig MacEwan.
The Saints man hit a shot from just outside the box which flew into the corner of the net leaving keeper, Craig Thomson, with no chance.
However, the lead didn’t last long and Alba equalised just before half-time after Saints struggled to clear their lines.
Marc MacCallum tried to head clear from deep inside his own box, but his clearance landed at the feet of Gordon Meredith who was on hand to toe the ball into the back of the net - a bad goal for Saints to lose.
The first half ended 1-1, but it was a determined-looking Saints outfit that took the field in the second half and, after some good play on the right-hand side, Lewis Cameron whipped in a great cross for Craig MacEwan to head the ball home for his second goal of the day to make the score 2-1.
History nearly repeated itself and Alba almost equalised straight away, hitting the crossbar from a long-range shot.
Alba then had another oppor- tunity to level the score when a free kick was whipped into the box and made its way through a sea of bodies, landing in front of the unmarked Iain Milne, but he couldn’t direct his shot on target and the ball went wide.
Saints were starting to get back on top after a good spell from the visitors and thought they had scored a third goal when Donnie Campbell rose at the back post to head the ball home. But referee, John Stobo, who had a good game, ruled the goal out for a bit of pushing from the Saints midfielder
Saints killed the game off in the 79th minute when Craig MacEwan and Scott Maitland combined on the left-hand side to send Marc MacCallum powering his way to the byline. The Saints skipper then cut the ball back for Myles McAuley, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net to make the final score 3-1.
Oban Saints manager, Alex Craik, said: ‘ We were very sluggish to start off with but came more into things as the game wore on. Alba were a good side, but I think we probably just about edged it and fully deserved the three points in the end.’
Due to West Cup ties, Saints have no game this Saturday. The Oban side received a bye into the second round where they will take on the winners of East Kilbride RR or Clydebank.
Saints side have been drawn at home to Millbeg Villa in the second round of the Scottish Amateur Cup.
Craig MacEwan, No 8, is congratualated by his teammates after opening the scoring for Saints against
Alba Thistle at Glencruitten last Saturday
Donnie Campbell takes on an
Alba Thistle defender