Hamilton Accies win D & K Cup
Saints manager very pleased with first outing of the season
OBAN Saints got preparations for the 2016-17 season under way last Saturday when they took part in the 23rd playing of their annual tournament, sponsored by D& K Lafferty Contractors Ltd. Once again the tournament attracted top quality participants in the form of regulars Alloa Athletic, Dundee United, Hamilton Academical and trophy holders Heart of Midlothian who, together with the hosts, entertained the large crowd of spectators to a feast of football despite damp conditions.
Mainly as a result of their early involvement in the new style SPFL League Cup, the visitors were represented by their Under 20s development league teams with Saints getting in on the act by blooding youngsters Jay Cooper, Matthew Kelly and Fraser MacFarlane.
Dundee United and Hamilton Academical got proceedings under way at Mossfield, Oban, with Accies edging a tight game 1 - 0 courtesy of solitary strike from player of the tournament Steven Boyd early in the second half.
Referee Jim Pearson handed Dundee United a late lifeline awarding the Terrors a penalty kick when Matthew Smith went down in the box. Smith took the penalty kick himself but was foiled by an excellent save from Alex Marshall in the Accies goal.
The first match at Glencruitten was contested by Heart of Midlothian and Alloa Athletic and ended honours even with the Wasp’s Adam Martin cancelling out David Wilson’s strike for the Jam Tarts.
Saints entered the fray against a youthful Alloa Athletic side at Mossfield. The first 20 minutes were played in heavy rain and was dominated by Saints without causing the Wasp’s defence too many problems.
The rain abated in time for the second half and it was the visitors who had the first attempt on target inside the first minute. Donald Campbell conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal and Graham ‘Sugar’ Douglas had to look lively to tip it over his crossbar. Alloa also won the header from the resulting corner kick which, fortunately for Saints, went wide of Sugar’s right hand post.
Saints responded with a free kick of their own after Scott Maitland had been brought down on the left wing. Willie Gemmell sent a deep cross to the back post, which Craig Campbell headed back across goal only for the ball to be taken off the forehead of Donald Campbell by an excellent clearing header at the expense of a corner kick.
Saints opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a cool finish from the evergreen Ross Maitland. Martin Bonar flicked on a long ball from the back from skipper Marc Maccallum with Ross timing his run perfectly to get in behind the Wasp’s defence and lob the advancing keeper from 18 yards.
Saints had a good opportunity to extend their lead three minutes later when David McArthur won a corner kick on the right. Ross Maitland landed a perfect delivery onto the head of Martin Bonar who made good contact but was unable to direct his header on target sending it 18 inches over the crossbar.
Saints made the points safe with three minutes remaining from the head of young Fraser MacFarlane.
Martin Bonar once again provided the flick on for Ross Maitland on the right who sent over a terrific cross for debutant MacFarlane to head home from six yards.
There was one final attempt from David McArthur who took down a raking diagonal pass from Donald Campbell and fired a shot wide of the top corner before referee Jimmy Litster brought proceedings to a close.
The second match at Glencruitten was a thriller between Hamilton Academical and Heart of Midlothian with the Accies coming out on top by the odd goal in five. Jamie Brandon and Russell MacLean were on target for Hearts with Ross Cunningham replying before that veteran of many fixtures ‘trialist’ netted twice to clinch the points for Accies.
Saints continued on Mossfield against Heart of Midlothian where it was very much a case of defences on top in a goal-less draw.
Saints enjoyed the majority of possession throughout and came closest to scoring in the third minute when Scott Maitland cracked a 20-yard left foot drive off the crossbar with the goalkeeper well beaten.
A minute later, Craig MacEwan cut in from the left and fired in a low shot which the keeper did well to hold on the slippery surface.
Paul Carmichael was winning more than his fair share of headers and tested the goalkeeper in the 13th minute with a looping
header from the edge of the box which the keeper did well to hold under pressure from Marc Maccallum.
Hearts showed a little more promise in the second half and Dene Cassells had to look lively to head away a dangerous looking cross from the left wing in the 35th minute.
With two minutes remaining, Paul Carmichael made space for a well-struck left foot shot from 22-yards but was unlucky to see his effort go straght into the goalkeeper’s midriff. Hearts had their only attempt on target in the final minute which Thomas McCulloch saved comfortably before referee Andrew Taylor, making his tournament debut, blew for full time.
At Glencruitten, Dundee United recovered from their opening match defeat to early pace setters Hamilton Academical to claim their first points of the day against Alloa Athletic. Goals from Graham Taylor and towering centre half Harry Souttar sealed a convincing victory for the Terrors over the Wasps.
Dundee United’s third fixture was against Heart of Midlothian at Mossfield where United racked up the biggest winning margin of the day defeating the Jam Tarts by three goals to nil with the goals coming from Matty Smith, Logan Chalmers and Graham Taylor.
Saints crossed to Glencruitten for the crunch match against Hamilton Academical and survived a close shave in the first minute when they failed to deal with a Steven Boyd free kick into the box with Thomas McCulloch relieved to see Ross Cunningham’s shot slip wide of his left hand post.
Boyd had another chance to show his dead ball prowess midway through the half and sent a decent effort narrowly wide of McCulloch’s right hand post.
Accies broke the stalemate two minutes into the second half with a spectacular opportunist effort from Boyd. There appeared to be little danger when Thomas McCulloch cleared a Dene Cassells pass back but as the ball fizzed in Boyd’s direction he caught the Saints keeper well off his line with a perfectly executed first time volley into the unguarded net.
Saints Manager Alex Craik opted to freshen things up replacing Martin Bonar and Fraser MacFarlane with Paul Carmichael and Craig MacEwan. The substitutes quickly combined, with Craig getting in a good cross from the right which Paul headed just over the crossbar.
MacEwan was again involved in the 34th minute, winning a corner on the right which ultimately led to the Saints equaliser. Willie Gemmell’s corner kick was forced behind by the Accies defence giving Willie a second opportunity to pick out a Saints head in the box. The Accies defence again stood firm but could only clear the ball as far as Keith Millar who was fouled 25-yards out before he could return the ball to the danger area. Willie Gemmell lined up the free kick and sent an excellent delivery to the back post where Donald Campbell got round behind the Accies defence to send a sensational diving header into the postage stamp corner giving keeper Alex Marshall no chance.
The Accies defence appealed for offside but assistant referee John Scott’s flag remained down and referee John Stobo awarded the goal ensuring the match finished all square.
Going into the final round of matches, the cup was still up for grabs with Dundee United, Hamilton Academical and Oban Saints all still in contention, albeit with Accies in pole position.
Saints and Dundee United were in direct opposition at Glencruitten where a win for either would clinch the trophy but only if Accies were to slip up against Alloa Athletic at Mossfield.
In an end-to- end match at Glencruitten Saints and Dundee United gave it all they had to find the goals required to pip Accies but the roars coming from the Hamilton faithful at Mossfield left both in no doubt they were facing an uphill struggle.
An eventful match for Saints keeper Graham Douglas began when referee Archie Mitchell insisted he change his luminous orange shirt which clearly clashed with United’s colours.
Graham swapped his orange shirt for Thomas McCulloch’s even brighter yellow shirt and proceeded to keep the United attack at bay with a string of excellent saves. At the other end, his opposite number was also in good form denying Craig MacEwan and Donald Campbell.
‘Sugar’s’ heroics took a heavy toll when he picked up a calf strain making another excellent save from Logan Chalmers which saw him return the yellow jersey to Thomas McCulloch who came on for the closing four minutes.
By this time Saints and United were playing only to decide who would finish as runners up as Lewis Smith and tournament top scorer ‘Trialist’ had Accies two goals in front against Alloa Athletic.
Saints had one final chance to clinch all three points against Dundee United when Dene Cassells made a strong run out from central defence and found Craig MacEwan on the left wing.
Craig beat the United full back and sent in a tempting cross which, despite getting his head to, Dean Smith couldn’t direct on target sending his header wide of the keeper’s left hand post resulting in the match finishing all square and United edging out Saints for second place behind tournament winners Hamilton Acacdemical.
Tournament organiser David Buchanan thanked the sponsors D & K Lafferty, Contractors, the visiting teams for their continued support of the tournament and congratulated winners Hamilton Academical and player of the tournament Steven Boyd on their success.
David also thanked the spectators, many of whom had travelled considerable distances to be there, and the match officials Donnie Brooks, David Dunlop, Jimmy Litster, Archie Mitchell, Jim Pearson, Martin Rae, John Scott, John Stobo and Andrew Taylor without whom the event couldn’t take place.
David then called upon Councillor Roddy McCuish to present the winning team with their individual trophies and the winning captain Ronan Hughes with the D& K Lafferty Cup.
Saints manager Alex Craik was delighted at the performance of his squad. He said: ‘ We’ve just come off a very hard and tiring season and only had a three week break.
‘ We haven’t started pre-season training properly yet although we had a wee kick about on Wednesday before the tournament.
‘I thought the boys played some excellent football today, which bodes well for the new season.
‘I also got the chance to field three young players - Matty Kelly, Fraser MacFarlance and Jay Cooper - and they all showed up well.
‘The boys will have another week off then get down to serious pre-season training before our friendly matches against Vale of Leven Juniors, St Anthony’s, East Kilbride and Lochgilphead Red Star, plus the Argyll and Bute tournament.’
A happy Hamilton Accies squad after winning the D&K Cup tournament last Saturday.
The Oban Saints squad before the tournament.
Donald Campbell, number 19, dives to head home Willie Gemmell’s free kick to equalise against Hamilton Accies.
Young Fraser MacFarlane, playing his first game for the Saints senior team, heads home the second goal against Alloa.
The Hearts coaching team, lead by former Dundee United and Rangers striker Jon Daly, look on during the game against Saints.
This Hamilton Accies header flew inches over the bar.
Paul Carmichael stretches for the ball in the 0- 0 draw with Hearts.
Craig MacEwan in action against Hearts, the team he supports.
Councillor Roddy McCuish hands over the D & K Cup to Hamilton Accies captain Ronan Hughes.
No way through for this Alloa player as he is crowded out by Saints Scottish Amateur international defender Scott Maitland, left, and Fraser MacFarlane.
Keith Millar in a tussle for the ball during the game against Alloa.
Donald Campbell fends off his marker.
DB meets DB. Oban Saints secretary David Buchanan meets up with old friend, former Scottish international and Dundee United coach Dave Bowman who has been coming to the tournament for many years.
Saints skipper Marc Maccallum clears his lines during the game against Dundee United which finished 0- 0.