Saints’ de­fender turns on the style in Lithua­nia

The Oban Times - - Sport -

PREPA­RA­TIONS for Scot­land’s UEFA Re­gions’ Cup pre­lim­i­nary round trip to Lithua­nia fin­ished with a late flurry of hec­tic ac­tiv­ity for man­ager Bruce McNaught.

Dou­glas Ryan, East Kil­bride, and Tony Ja­conelli, Craigshill This­tle, were late call- offs but Bruce was de­lighted to re­cruit the ser­vices of Tony’s team­mate Gra­ham But­ler and Scott Mait­land of Oban Saints.

Scot­land kicked off their Re­gions’ Cup cam­paign with a highly cred­itable draw against host na­tion Lithua­nia. The game had a dra­matic and frus­trat­ing end for Scot­land.

Scot­land edged ahead with five min­utes re­main­ing only for Lithua­nia to grab the equaliser on 87 min­utes.

As al­ways in mini-tour­na­ments, the Scots ap­pre­ci­ated the im­por­tance of avoid­ing de­feat in the open­ing match of the ar­du­ous sched­ule of three games in five days.

Saints’ de­fender Mait­land came on as a sec­ond half sub­sti­tute against Lithua­nia.

Mait­land so im­pressed man­ager McNaught in his time on the park against the host na­tion that he had no hes­i­ta­tion in se­lect­ing Scott as the first choice left back for the sec­ond game against Es­to­nia, which the Scots won com­fort­ably 9- 0.

The young Saints de­fender put in an im­pres­sive per­for­mance against Es­to­nia and was again se­lected to take on the left back role in the fi­nal, and cru­cial, game against Swe­den.

Scot­land pro­duced yet an­other stun­ning per­for­mance to end this de­mand­ing week as the win­ners of the UEFA Re­gions’ Cup pre­lim­i­nary round group A with a close-fought 1- 0 win over the Swe­den.

Scot­land pipped host na­tion Lithua­nia on goal dif­fer­ence to win the group and now face France, Ukraine and Malta in group one of the in­ter­me­di­ate round draw.

The in­ter­me­di­ate round will take place in Malta in Oc­to­ber with the eight group win­ners qual­i­fy­ing for the fi­nal which will take place in the last two weeks in June 2017 hosted by one of the coun­tries that qual­ify.

A de­lighted Scott said: ‘It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and the best week I’ve ever had in my foot­ball ca­reer. I will be train­ing hard to try and keep my place in the squad for the in­ter­me­di­ate round in Malta later his year.’

Scott only re­turned to Oban on the Thurs­day night af­ter three tough games in Lithua­nia but the young de­fender went straight into the Saints start­ing line-up that won the Jimmy Mar­shall Cup on Fri­day night.

Scott Mait­land in ac­tion for Scot­land against Swe­den in the re­cent UEFA Re­gions’ Cup Tour­na­ment in Lithua­nia.

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