Last minute goal denies Saints away win against Goldenhill
SAFL Premier Division
SAINTS somehow contrived to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory in an enthralling match at Clydebank High School last Saturday afternoon. Despite being a goal ahead and two men to the good with only 10 minutes remaining, Saints couldn’t see the match out and conceded a cheap headed last minute equaliser giving the home side an unlikely but deserved share of the points.
Goldenhill started the stronger of the two sides and had Saints pinned back in their own half during the opening exchanges without really threatening the Saints back four too much.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 12th minute when an excellently struck Donald Campbell shot from the corner of the 18-yard box brought out a terrific diving save from Scott Rennie low down to his right.
Unfortunately for the Gowdie the big keeper could only parry the ball into the path of Ross Maitland who coolly picked out Craig MacEwan on the six-yard line with MacEwan tucking the ball into the net.
Frustation In the 25th minute MacEwan came the width of the post away from doubling his tally. Maitland made a good run forward on the Saints left and delivered a tempting cross which MacEwan did well to head goalwards, however, much to the frustration of the Saints contingent on the touchline, the ball struck the inside of the post and dropped into the grateful arms of keeper Scott Rennie.
Saints’ second goal came in the 35th minute with the two holding midfielders, Willie Gemmell and Paul Kerr, combining for a rare goal for Paul. Gemmell sent a perfect delivery from the left towards the back post where Kerr had made a late run to send a sensational header back across the goalkeeper and into the top corner of the net.
Saints ended the first half seemingly well in control of the match but looking back ruefully on the missed chances which could have seen them already out of sight.
Saints didn’t have long to enjoy their lead as it was wiped out in a blistering start to the second half from the home side. In the opening minute, Saints conceded possession from their own throw-in on the left. Daniel Gibson raced into the inside right channel past a statuesque Saints defence and squared for James Gallagher to tap in at the back post.
Barely 60 seconds later the Gowdie drew level when Gibson pounced on a speculative ball over the top splitting David McArthur and Dene Cassells.
The Gowdie winger fired in a low shot which Thomas McCulloch got both hands to but couldn’t keep out low down at his near post.
The home side completed the turnaround in the 53rd minute when a deep cross from their left was nodded down at the back post by Daniel McKenna into the path of the unmarked James Gallagher to complete his hat-trick with a sweet right foot finish past the helpless McCulloch.
Despite this set back Saints refused to let their heads drop and came close almost immediately when Dean Smith made good progress to the dead ball line and sent a tempting cut back which agonisingly bisected the runs of MacEwan and Campbell in the centre.
In the 57th minute Gemmell stung the palms of Scott Rennie with a rasping long range effort which the big keeper did well to hold with Smith waiting to pounce on any handling error.
The Gowdie had adopted a higher defensive line in the second half and after a couple of tight calls from Mr Hay, Saints finally sprung the home side’s offside trap with a perfectly timed MacEwan run onto a David McArthur through ball. MacEwan drew the keeper and squared to Maitland for a simple tap-in to restore parity.
Barely a minute later, Saints hit the woodwork for the second time when Maitland got on the end of a Kerr pass and hit the inside of the post with the ball being scrambled behind for a corner kick.
Maitland flighted in an excellent ball from the Saints left which eluded everyone in the centre but was well controlled by Cassells at the back post, who turned and fired in a shot which was blocked on the goal-line and hoofed to safety.
Curling pass Saints got their noses back in front in the 75th minute by once again springing the Gowdie offside trap. Gemmell began the move with a delicious curling pass setting Maitland off on a run in the inside left channel. Maitland won the foot race with the Gowdie full back Steven Dock and cut the ball back to Gemmell, who thundered in a fierce right foot shot which this time was too hot for the keeper to handle and the ball broke loose to Smith, six yards out, who eagerly gobbled up the opportunity to restore the lead for Saints.
The home side momentarily lost their heads with substitute striker Chris McGrath receiving a straight red card for aiming a kick at Jamie Graham and defender Jack Bennett picking up a second yellow for a petulant kick at Smith as he lay on the ground ,having been brought down on the half way line.
With the match seemingly safe, manager Alex Craik made a couple of changes replacing Maitland and Smith with Shaun MacIver and Allan Mackay.
With the clock ticking down and the killer fifth goal eluding them Saints seemed to panic and dropped deeper and deeper inviting the nine men of Goldenhill onto them. A succession of needless fouls gave the Gowdie the chance to launch long balls into the box which, although Saints managed to deal with their failure to fully clear their lines meant the ball kept coming straight back.
Inevitability It was, therefore, with a large dose of inevitability that the home side equalised in the 89th minute from a long throw on the Saints right level with the 18-yard line.
The Gowdie piled everybody into the box for the long throw and Damon Gray looped a free header beyond McCulloch and into the net for an equaliser for which Saints have only themselves to blame.
At the outset a share of the points against an impressive Goldenhill side on a 10-match winning streak would not have been a bad result but the manner in which the late equaliser was conceded against nine men leaves the result feeling more like a defeat than a draw.
Manager Craik was gutted at the result.
He said: ‘ We played really well against a good Goldenhill team. I’ve got no complaints about that. However, the start of the second half was a disaster, losing two poor goals.
‘We battled back into the game and when they went down to nine men we should have been experienced enough to run down the clock but we invited them on to us and we failed to clear our lines properly on a number of occasions and the inevitable happened.’
Saints will be hoping to return to winning ways on Saturday when they take on Finnart in a premier division league game.
The match will take place at the Oban Community 3G Pitch with a 2pm kick- off.
DRAW: Dean Smith, No 9, fires Saints into a 4-3 lead after Goldenhill keeper Scott Rennie fails to hold a Willie Gemmell thunderbolt.