Im­pres­sive dis­play as Saints beat last year’s league cham­pi­ons

The Oban Times - - Sport -

OBAN Saints moved to the top of the SAFL Pre­mier Divi­sion af­ter an em­pathic vic­tory over last year’s league cham­pi­ons East Kil­bride at Glen­cruit­ten last Satur­day.

Three se­cond half goals were enough to se­cure all three points for the Oban side and se­cure their se­cond clean sheet in as many games.

The man­ager was forced into two changes from the pre­vi­ous Satur­day’s 8- 0 win over Peter­shall Villa. Craig Camp­bell and Matty Kelly dropped out through in­jury, so David McArthur and Jamie Gra­ham took over the full back berths. Mak­ing a wel­come re­turn to the squad was Don­ald Camp­bell who has been un­avail­able for the last few games and Ross Mait­land who had re­cov­ered from ’flu.

Dene Cas­sells was first to get the home fans cheer­ing when he in­ter­cepted a pass, in­tended for Bob Thanda, deep in his own half. He charged up the pitch and slipped the ball to Wil­lie Gem­mell but East Kil­bride’s de­fence were well set up and cleared the dan­ger.

A slack pass from David McArthur fell to East Kil­bride’s cap­tain Gavin Thom­son who played a low pass to Johnny Di­ack on the edge of the Saints box but Marc MacCal­lum made it di­fi­cult for the East Kil­bride striker to get a shot on tar­get.

Cas­sells then in­ter­cepted the ball in the mid­dle of the park, be­fore pass­ing to Jamie Gra­ham who fired in a great cross with Craig MacEwan just inches away from mak­ing con­tact.

Saints con­tin­ued to ap­ply pres­sure to the East Kil­bride de­fence and a di­rect run from Brian McKay al­lowed him to cut the ball back to Scott Mait­land, who was po­si­tioned on the edge of the box, but Mait­land couldn’t keep his shot down and it sailed over the bar.

East Kil­bride left back Thom­son skipped past Wil­lie Gem­mell and played the ball to Di­ack, who played a great first time pass into the path of Jamie Innes, but his ef­fort on goal was blocked and Marc MacCal­lum was on hand to mop up and clear the ball over his own cross­bar.

Saints surged up­field in the 31st minute and MacEwan played the ball through to MacKay who was clear through on goal but he shot straight at East Kil­bride keeper Ross Mel­drum and a great chance was missed.

A Wil­lie Gem­mell free kick from the cen­tre cir­cle found the head of Paul Carmichael who jos­tled his way to the front post but the Saints’ striker’s ef­fort didn’t trou­ble keeper Mel­drum.

In the 39th minute, MacEwan and Carmichael com­bined to send MacKay through but the Saints front man over-ran the ball and his tame ef­fort was col­lected by keeper Mel­drum

The vis­i­tors had the first op­por­tu­nity of the se­cond half. Lee Ferguson played a deep cross into the box that found Thanda who con­nected well forc­ing a div­ing save from McCul­loch.

Rat­tled

A daz­zling run from MacEwan led to the first goal of the af­ter­noon. He turned his man in­side out be­fore hit­ting a shot that left Mel­drum with no chance. His ef­fort rat­tled off the in­side of the post but a well po­si­tioned Scott Mait­land was on hand to head the ball into the back of the net from six yards.

Saints in­creased their lead when Don­ald Camp­bell, who had come on for Brian MacKay, in­ter­cepted the ball in the East Kil­bride half. He passed to MacEwan, who drilled the ball low to­wards the goal. His shot was blocked but again it fell kindly for Mait­land who headed the ball into the back of the net for his se­cond goal of the match.

East Kil­bride’s Ross Camp­bell cre­ated a rare se­cond-half op­por­tu­nity to get his side back into the match. He took the ball down on the edge of the box and stuck a well-hit half vol­ley but his shot went straight at keeper McCul­loch.

Carmichael thought he had sealed the points for Saints. A long goal kick from McCul­loch bounced into the path of Mait­land, who flicked the ball over the top to Camp­bell in the box, which was in­ter­cepted, but the de­fender’s header spun wide to Carmichael who rat­tled the ball in to the top corner of the net.

But ref­eree Jimmy Lit­ster, who had a good game, had al­ready blown for off­side.

This was Carmichael’s last con­tri­bu­tion as he gave way to Dean Smith.

Smith made an im­me­di­ate im­pact. The ball was played to him in the box but as he turned he was brought down by keeper Mel­drum, leav­ing the ref­eree no op­tion but to point to the spot.

Camp­bell stepped up and drilled the ball home to make it three goals and three points for Saints.

With the points in the bag, MacEwan was re­placed by Fraser McFar­lane and Gem­mell made way for Ross Mait­land.

Af­ter the game, man­ager Alex Craik said: ‘It was a great all -round team per­for­mance. It’s a good re­sult against a team that have won five league ti­tles in a row. I’m very happy. It’s good to get a clean sheet into the bar­gain.’

Saints travel to face FC Cly­de­bank this Satur­day in the third round of the Scot­tish Am­a­teur Cup. The game will take place at Thorn Park, Bears­den, with a 2pm kick- off. Ref­eree in charge is Michael Auld.

Scott Mait­land, far left, looks on as he sees his header hit the back of the net to put his team 2- 0 in front.

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