Pupils come and park the bus but Saints still take all three points
‘ We played some excellent football today, passing the ball out from the back which meant we kept possession for long periods in the game’
Oban Saints 2 Campbeltown Pupils 0
SAFL Premier Division
PATIENCE was the name of the game at Glencruitten last Saturday as Saints were made to work hard to break down a determined and well- drilled Campbeltown Pupils defensive set-up in the first Argyll derby of the season.
The visitors came with caution very much in mind and set Saints a difficult task to find a way through their solid five-man defence.
Willie Gemmell had Saints’ first effort on goal with a long range shot from the edge of the centre circle which flew high and wide, posing no threat to the Campbeltown goal.
Saints midfield triumvirate of Willie Gemmell, Paul Kerr and Donald Campbell were getting plenty of the ball in the centre of the park but, faced with a wall of red shirts, were finding it hard to thread the passes through to the front three of Ross Maitland, Dean Smith and Craig MacEwan.
Willie Gemmell was first to find the key to unlock the Pupils defence when he clipped a delightful cross from the right picking out Donald Campbell’s late run into the box. Donald won a good looping header against Keith Mitchell which the back peddling Reid Anderson did well to tip over his cross bar for a corner kick.
Just one minute later Donald Campbell threaded a terrific pass through to Ross Maitland, who timed his run well to get in behind the Pupils defence. Reid Anderson was quickly off his line to narrow the angle and made a good save diving to his left to parry Maitland’s curling shot to safety.
A cheaply- conceded free kick by Dene Cassells on the edge of his own box lead to a scare for Saints in the 19th minute. Willie Gemmell headed the free kick wide for a throw in from which Pupils forced a corner kick on their right. John McCallum glanced a header from the six yard line towards the top corner which Thomas McCulloch, at full stretch, managed to claw onto the post and behind for another corner.
Saints cleared the danger from the second corner and broke up the left wing with Scott Maitland delivering a low cross to Ross Maitland 12 yards out and directly in front of goal. Ross didn't connect as well as he would have liked with his left foot but nonetheless Reid Anderson produced another excellent save to foil the wee man for the second time.
Anderson was in action again in the 26th-minute acrobatically tipping over a dipping David McArthur volley from the edge of the box after Pupils had failed to fully clear their lines from a Ross Maitland corner.
David was first to the second corner but his downward header under little pressure bounced high and wide of target.
As the first half drew to a close the relatively untroubled Saints central defensive pairing of Dene Cassells and Jamie Graham got themselves into a fankle and gifted an opportunity to lone Pupils striker John McCallum.
Fortunately for Saints, Thomas McCulloch was equal to McCallum’s shot on goal and produced a good save diving full length to his right.
Saints manager Alex Craik sent out the same 11 to start the second half advising them to keep playing their passing game and the scoring opportunities would come.
Saints first attack of the second half was a rare galloping Willie Gemmell run from deep inside his own half. Unfortunately Willie didn’t quite have the pace to outstrip the chasing pack and was dispossessed by a sliding interception by Grant Grant who recovered his ground well.
The long-awaited breakthrough finally came in the 56th-minute and owed much to a powerful run from the back by Dene Cassells. He made good progress through the midfield but was stopped 25 yards out by a perfectly- executed sliding challenge from John McCallum. Paul Kerr picked up the loose ball and played the ball to Donald Campbell on the edge of the box, who turned well and cut into the box only to be faced by the advancing Reid Anderson.
Anderson spread himself well forcing Donald wide where, from the tightest of angles, he tucked the ball, left-footed, inside the near post beating the despairing lunge of Lorne Robertson on the goal line.
Saints’ second came six minutes later after the impressive Reid Anderson had made another good save to deny Donald Campbell following a terrific ball over the top of the Pupils defence from Willie Gemmell.
Anderson forced the ball behind for a corner kick on the Saints’ left from which Ross Maitland curled a wicked in-swinger towards the postage stamp corner that Fraser Wylie, guarding the far post, could only head into the roof of his own net, possibly from behind his own goal-line. The cross from Ross may also have taken a nick off a Campbeltown defender’s head en-route to goal but the wee man will certainly be claiming the goal for himself.
Saints were well on top now and went in search of a third and were denied by another terrific save from Anderson diving to his left to fingertip a Dean Smith shot onto the post with Keith Mitchell recovering to clear the danger.
Anderson produced more heroics in the 73rd minute to deny Dean Smith at close range after Smith had chested down well in the box but didn’t quite make the connection he was hoping for giving Anderson the chance to make the save.
Saints survived a major scare in the 76th minute when Willie Gemmell was caught in possession on the edge of his own box by Pupils substitute Ellis Robertson.
Robertson broke into the box, rounded the advancing Thomas McCulloch, but much to the relief of Willie and the Saints faithful, just as he was about to stroke the ball into the unguarded net, he lost his footing and the ball broke loose and into the grateful arms of the Saints keeper.
The final opportunity of the match came for Pupils in the closing minutes when Keith Mitchell outpaced David McArthur on the left wing and cut inside where he was stopped in his tracks by a heavy Dene Cassells challenge.
Mitchell and Ryan Deans both hovered over the ball and it was Deans who elected to strike, curling the ball high and wide of target.
Referee Litster brought to an end an entertaining derby match which he had handled well without the need to produce a card sending the good crowd of spectators home happy. The win sees Saints extend their winning streak to six games in all competitions with the added bonus of a first clean sheet since the opening day of the season.
Manager Alex Craik was delighted with the performance of his team. He said: ‘ We played some excellent football today, passing the ball out from the back which meant we kept possession for long periods in the game.
‘Pupils made it very difficult for us to break them down with their defensive set-up but in the end we got what we deserved. We were the better team and fully deserved all three points.’
This Saturday Saints are at home again in the third round of the West of Scotland Cup against Lanarkshire Premier Division side Springhill.
The game is scheduled for Glencruitten with a 1.30pm kickoff but as the weather forecast is not good for the weekend the game could be transferred to the 3G pitch with a 3pm kick- off.
OWN GOAL: In attempting to clear Ross Maitland’s corner Fraser Wylie can only help the ball into his own net which gave Saints a 2- 0 lead
in the Argyll derby played at Glencruitten Park last Saturday.
SAVE: Campbeltown Pupils keeper Reid Anderson pulled off a string of great saves during the game,
this one from Ross Maitland.