Oban Saints pay the penalty

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

SAFL Premier Di­vi­sion

TWO PER­FECTLY ex­e­cuted free kicks and a stop­page time penalty save con­signed Saints to a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive away league de­feat at Scot­stoun Sports Cam­pus last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Hosts Drum­chapel Colts quickly can­celled out Paul Carmichael’s fifth-minute opener and com­pleted the turn­around two min­utes into the sec­ond half be­fore suc­cess­fully shut­ting up shop to re­pel a sec­ond-half Saints on­slaught.

In­juries once again forced man­ager Alex Craik to ring the changes, with Jamie Gra­ham and Paul Kerr drop­ping out from the squad which squeezed past FC Cly­de­bank in the Scot­tish Am­a­teur Cup the week pre­vi­ously. How­ever, the gaffer was able to add Don­ald Camp­bell, Dou­gal Gra­ham, Paul Carmichael and Scott Mait­land to the trav­el­ling party.

Saints got pro­ceed­ings un­der way play­ing into the bright low sun and opened the scor­ing af­ter just five min­utes. Paul Carmichael pushed for­ward from mid­field and won a throw in on the right. Dean Smith col­lected the throw in and fed Brian Mackay, who slipped a per­fectly weighted through ball for Paul Carmichael. Paul’s well-timed run left the Colts’ back four ap­peal­ing in vain for off­side and, from a tight an­gle, the Saints man ri­fled a shot across keeper Scott Urquhart and in off the in­side of the far post.

The home side came roar­ing back, forc­ing Thomas McCul­loch to tip over a Josh White shot from 25 yards. From the re­sult­ing cor­ner, Joseph Pre­ston climbed above David McArthur but sent his header a foot over the cross­bar.

Paul Carmichael was harshly pe­nalised for an 11th-minute chal­lenge on Scott Peters just in­side the Colts half and, to add in­sult to in­jury, ref­eree Mr Kelso then pro­duced the first of a flurry of yel­low cards which threat­ened to ruin a full-blooded but sport­ing en­counter be­tween two fully com­mit­ted teams.

The free kick was knocked up to the edge of the Saints box by Scott Fitz­patrick, where David McArthur was deemed to have im­peded Joseph Pre­ston and also found his way into Mr Kelso’s note­book. Matthew Arm­strong lined up the free kick from 26 yards and ex­pertly lifted the ball over the four-man Saints wall and into the bot­tom cor­ner past Thomas McCul­loch’s de­spair­ing right hand to level the score at 1-1.

Saints threat­ened to hit back in the 15th minute from a free kick won by Scott Mait­land just in­side the Drum half. Wil­lie Gem­mell played the ball up to Craig MacEwan on the left of the box. Craig tricked his way past Scott Fitz­patrick and sent a low cross into the dan­ger area where Brian Mackay had made a good run. Un­for­tu­nately, Brian’s fin­ish didn’t match the qual­ity of his run and his scuffed ef­fort was eas­ily fielded by Scott Urquhart.

Drum­chapel full­backs Scott Fitz­patrick and Greg Cross were look­ing to push for­ward to join the at­tack at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity with op­po­site num­bers Matthew Kelly and David McArthur only too keen to re­cip­ro­cate. In the 23rd minute, McArthur was inches away from con­nect­ing at the back post with a good deep cross from Kelly on the right.

Joseph Pre­ston be­came the first of the home side to fall foul of the card-happy ref­eree for a 35th-minute foul on Craig MacEwan. Wil­lie Gem­mell again took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the set-piece but couldn’t pick out ei­ther Dene Cas­sells or Craig MacEwan with a lofted ball to the back post, with Scott Urquhart mak­ing a good catch.

As the half wore on, Saints seemed to lose their way, hand­ing the ini­tia­tive to the home side. Marc Mac­cal­lum pro­duced a per­fectly timed last- ditch chal­lenge to halt Joseph Pre­ston’s run into the box in the 42nd minute. Mr Kelso dis­missed loud penalty claims from the Colts play­ers, in­stead point­ing to the cor­ner flag.

The home side main­tained the up­per hand right up to the half-time whis­tle, draw­ing a fine div­ing save from Thomas McCul­loch in the 44th minute to deny Joseph Pre­ston.

The sec­ond half be­gan in dis­as­trous fash­ion for Saints with a highly con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion from ref­eree Kelso at the heart of it. Paul Carmichael was pe­nalised for a shirt tug which only Mr Kelso saw. While the ref­eree was lec­tur­ing Don­ald Camp­bell and Peter Mac­Cal­lum on the touch­line for dis­put­ing his de­ci­sion, Robert Bell stole a cou­ple of yards which height­ened the sense of in­jus­tice in the Saints camp. Bell em­u­lated the feat of Matthew Arm­strong in the first half and lifted the ball ex­pertly up and over the wall, leav­ing Thomas McCul­loch too much ground to make up to his left and giv­ing the home side the lead. To rub salt into the wound, Saints skip­per Marc Mac­cal­lum was added to the grow­ing list of cau­tions for con­tin­u­ing his protes­ta­tions too long for the ref­eree’s lik­ing.

Wounded by this re­verse, Saints fi­nally took the game by the scruff of the neck and piled for­ward in search of an equaliser. Scott Mait­land ri­fled in a shot from 25 yards which was blocked be­hind for a cor­ner kick. Matthew Kelly’s de­liv­ery from the right was cleared but only as far as Brian Mackay, who re­turned the ball to the dan­ger area where Paul Carmichael’s knock- down was met by Dean Smith, whose net-bound ef­fort was blocked by Su­nil Chat­ter­jee.

Smith tried again in the 56th minute, slic­ing a spec­tac­u­lar at­tempted bi­cy­cle kick from a Craig MacEwan right-wing cross off tar­get. This proved to be Dean’s last in­volve­ment as he and David McArthur made way for Don­ald Camp­bell and Dou­gal Gra­ham.

Saints kept up the pres­sure on the Colts de­fence and had two penalty kick ap­peals in quick suc­ces­sion dis­missed by Mr Kelso. First, Paul Carmichael ap­peared to be felled from be­hind, giv­ing the ref­eree a very close de­ci­sion to make. Se­condly, Don­ald Camp­bell went down too eas­ily in the ref­eree’s opin­ion, earn­ing the Saints’ sub­sti­tute a yel­low card for sim­u­la­tion.

The Colts were de­fend­ing in depth with only Joseph Pre­ston left up front to fight for the long ball from the back. In the 66th minute, Matthew Kelly in­ter­cepted one such long ball with a well-timed header to launch an­other Saints at­tack. Don­ald Camp­bell, Wil­lie Gem­mell and Craig MacEwan com­bined well for Craig to pick out Paul Carmichael’s run into the box. Paul held off a chal­lenge from Greg Cross and from six yards left Scott Urquhart rooted to the spot only to see his first-time ef­fort slip ag­o­nis­ingly wide of the keeper’s right hand post.

The Saints on­slaught con­tin­ued with a back-ped­alling Urquhart show­ing safe hands to gather a loop­ing Wil­lie Gem­mell ef­fort un­der his cross­bar.

In the 77th minute, Dene Cas­sells flashed a header over the Colts’ cross­bar from a Wil­lie Gem­mell free kick af­ter Craig MacEwan had been fouled 10 yards in­side the Colts half. A driv­ing run into the box from Don­ald Camp­bell in the 78th minute was met by a vi­tal in­ter­cep­tion by Su­nil Chater­jee at the ex­pense of a cor­ner kick.

Be­fore the ac­tion could restart, man­ager Alex Craik made his third and fi­nal change, bring­ing on Ross Mait­land to re­place Brian Mackay. The first in­volve­ment for Ross was to take the cor­ner kick from the right but his de­liv­ery was headed clear at the near post by Greg Cross.

Ross fared bet­ter with a cross on the run one minute later, pick­ing out Paul Carmichael in the mid­dle whose header flew wide of the keeper’s left-hand post. The wee man was in the thick of the ac­tion again in the 81st minute, hav­ing a header from a Wil­lie Gem­mell free kick tipped over the cross­bar by Scott Urquhart.

Kick­ing the ball away at a throw-in and talk­ing back to the ref­eree at a free kick saw Su­nil Chater­jee and Josh White join the ever- ex­pand­ing list of cau­tions in the 84th and 85th min­utes re­spec­tively.

Ross Mait­land once again got the bet­ter of Greg Cross on the right wing and sent in an invit­ing ball for Don­ald Camp­bell who saw his ef­fort from 10 yards well saved by Scott Urquhart.

With so many yel­low cards in the game, it was per­haps in­evitable that some­body would see red and that du­bi­ous hon­our fell to Joseph Pre­ston for, in Mr Kelso’s opin­ion, a sec­ond yel­low card of­fence in the 88th minute.

Saints con­tin­ued their bom­bard­ment of the home goal into the four added min­utes and looked to have se­cured the slice of luck they re­quired to break down the stuffy Drum de­fence when Don­ald Camp­bell was pulled back in the process of shoot­ing in the box. Mr Kelso im­me­di­ately pointed to the penalty spot and took the name of Scott Urquhart for ve­he­mently dis­put­ing the de­ci­sion.

The Drum ’keeper, how­ever, re­gained his com­po­sure to make an ex­cel­lent div­ing save to his right to keep out Don­ald Camp­bell’s spot kick and deny Saints a deserved share of the points.

Man­ager Craik was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult. He said: ‘It was a crack­ing game against a good side. The first half was pretty even but we dom­i­nated for long spells in the sec­ond half, but failed to cap­i­talise on three or four good chances.’

Saints were due to take on Auchin­leck Boswell at Glen­cruit­ten in the West of Scot­land Cup on Satur­day but the Ayr­shire side have scratched from the com­pe­ti­tion, so un­for­tu­nately the Oban lads will not have a game this week­end.

Match re­port and pho­tos: Derek Black

Paul Carmichael, No 6, wheels away af­ter putting Saints in front against Drum­chapel Colts at Scot­stoun Sports Cam­pus last Satur­day.

Saints keeper Thomas McCul­loch is well beaten by Robert Bell’s free kick.

Drum­chapel keeper Scott Urquhart saves Don­ald Camp­bell’s last-minute penalty.

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