Dou­gal’s won­der strike helps Saints win Mar­shall Cup

The Oban Times - - Sport -

AF­TER fi­nally lay­ing to rest their Mill­burn Park hoodoo against Mother­well This­tle on Wed­nes­day May 11, Saints made a swift re­turn to Alexan­dria and the home of Vale of Leven Ju­niors last Fri­day night to face cup hold­ers St Joseph’s FP in the fi­nal of the Scot­tish Ama­teur Foot­ball League Jimmy Mar­shall Cup.

Saints and St Joe’s held a dress re­hearsal for this fix­ture in Oban seven days pre­vi­ously with the men from Dun­tocher run­ning out con­vinc­ing win­ners al­beit only by a 2-1 score­line.

Man­ager Alex Craik’s op­tions were given a timely boost when skip­per Marc MacCal­lum de­clared him­self fit enough to start his first match since the league draw away at Alba This­tle on April 27. The gaffer was also re­lieved to see Scott Mait­land come through his tour of duty with the Scot­tish Ama­teur Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Se­lect in Lithua­nia un­scathed, fit and rar­ing to go.

Scott went straight into the start­ing XI where Alex pulled off a tac­ti­cal sur­prise by de­ploy­ing him on the left of a mid­field di­a­mond an­chored by Paul Kerr with Keith Mil­lar on the right and Paul Carmichael at the point.

Saints squan­dered the first of sev­eral good op­por­tu­ni­ties in the 14th minute when Dean Smith, in­side the six-yard box, could get only the slight­est of touches on a low Scott Mait­land cross from the left leav­ing Lee Mitchell with an easy save.

Saints were al­most made to pay im­me­di­ately for this missed chance with a light­ning quick St Joe’s counter at­tack which was even­tu­ally halted on the edge of his own box by an ex­cel­lent slid­ing in­ter­cep­tion from Marc MacCal­lum at the ex­pense of a cor­ner kick.

If there was one com­plaint against an oth­er­wise good all­round open­ing 20 min­utes from the Oban side, it was their ten­dency to give away pos­ses­sion from their own throw-ins.

St Joe’s cap­tain Colin Gai­ley picked up the first of what was to be many yel­low cards for his side in the 39th minute for a late chal­lenge on Paul Kerr.

Saints were even­tu­ally re­warded for their first half dom­i­nance with just one minute of the 45 re­main­ing. Paul Kerr swung in a free kick and found the head of Dene Cas­sells. Dene’s header looped back across the face of the six-yard box and was watched all the way by Dean Smith who took it down and fired in a right foot shot which Lee Mitchell saved mag­nif­i­cently. Un­luck­ily for the St Joe’s keeper, his two-handed push up into the air failed to clear the cross­bar and came down nicely for Paul Carmichael to nod into the net from vir­tu­ally on the goal-line to make the half time score 1- 0.

The re­al­i­sa­tion that the Jimmy Mar­shall Tro­phy was head­ing to­wards join­ing the Cen­te­nary Cup and Premier Divi­sion ti­tle in slip­ping through their hands led St Joe’s into mak­ing some un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally bad chal­lenges with Kearn Docherty join­ing the grow­ing list of mis­cre­ants in the ref­eree’s note­book for an­other heavy tackle on Scott Mait­land who was tak­ing more than his fair share of pun­ish­ment.

The al­most in­evitable red card for St Joe’s ar­rived in the 53rd minute with Colin Gai­ley clat­ter­ing into Marc MacCal­lum. Mr McCart awarded a free-kick to Saints and a sec­ond yel­low to the St Joe’s skip­per who might well have ex­pected to re­ceive a straight red.

St Joe’s full­back Craig Cameron was tread­ing a fine dis­ci­plinary line and was lucky to es­cape a sec­ond yel­low for a late 61st minute chal­lenge on Scott Mait­land on the half-way line which Mr McCart deemed wor­thy only of a free-kick.

How­ever, Cameron’s dis­ci­plinary high wire act even­tu­ally came to grief in the 67th minute when he in­ju­di­ciously hauled back Paul Carmichael 10 yards in­side the St Joe’s half pick­ing up a sec­ond yel­low card in the process.

Al­though down to nine men St Joe’s were cer­tainly in no mood to give up their push for an equaliser but their lack of num­bers at the back and in mid­field pre­sented Saints with sev­eral more op­por­tu­ni­ties to stretch their ad­van­tage.

Saints’ sec­ond and killer goal came in the 72nd minute in a mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion from Dou­gal Gra­ham. Not for the first time Dou­gal found him­self higher up the park and far more cen­tral than his man­ager would have liked. With the St Joe’s de­fence backpedalling, Dou­gal spot­ted Lee Mitchell off his line and with­out break­ing stride sen­sa­tion­ally lobbed the ball from 40 yards over the keeper’s head and into the empty net.

St Joe’s pol­icy of gam­bling at the back and look­ing for the quick counter at­tack fi­nally paid off with eight min­utes re­main­ing. A free kick con­ceded by Paul Kerr 30 yards from goal and left of centre pre­sented Ryan Craig with a chance to test Thomas McCul­loch. Thomas had al­ready pro­duced two ex- cel­lent saves to keep St Joe’s at bay but this time, de­spite get­ting two strong hands to the ball low down at his right hand post, he only suc­ceeded in push­ing the ball into his own net.

A mis­er­able night for St Joe’s was com­pleted in the 90th minute when Ryan Craig took ex­cep­tion to Craig MacEwan and Ross Mait­land play­ing keep-ball by the cor­ner flag and launched an over ex­u­ber­ant tackle on Craig which earned his sec­ond and his team’s 10th yel­low card of the even­ing.

There were solid all-round per­for­mances from all in navy blue but an eye- catch­ing dis­play at left back cou­pled with his sec­ond half won­der strike earned Dou­gal Gra­ham the man of the match award which was pre­sented by re­tir­ing Scot­tish Ama­teur Foot­ball League pres­i­dent Frank McCann.

Photos: Stephen Law­son. Match report Derek Black

A ju­bi­lant Oban Saints squad cel­e­brate af­ter their 2-1 win over St Joseph’s FP in the fi­nal of the Jimmy Mar­shall Cup last Fri­day even­ing at Mill­burn Park, Alexan­dria.

Oban Saints cap­tain Marc MacCal­lum with the im­pres­sive Jimmy Mar­shall Cup.

Saints de­fender Dou­gal Gra­ham re­ceives the man of the match award from Scot­tish Ama­teur Foot­ball League pres­i­dent Frank McCann.

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