Six of the best as Saints over­run Port Glas­gow OBU

‘If I had any crit­i­cism it would be that we have to be more clin­i­cal in front of goals’

The Oban Times - - Sport -

LAST Satur­day at Parklea Saints be­gan their de­fence of the Scottish Am­a­teur Foot­ball League Jimmy Mar­shall Tro­phy in con­fi­dent style against one of the stal­warts of the Scottish Am­a­teur Foot­ball League Port Glas­gow Old Boy’s Union AFC. Port Glas­gow OBU cel­e­brated their 110th an­niver­sary in 2016, which is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment, par­tic­u­larly in the cur­rent cli­mate of long- es­tab­lished clubs hav­ing to fold. True to their motto, Port Glas­gow OBU have re­mained Sure and Stead­fast through­out their his­tory and have a long and happy as­so­ci­a­tion with the Scottish Am­a­teur Foot­ball League. OBU have ad­mirably cho­sen not to fol­low the well worn path to other leagues taken by many long- stand­ing SAFL mem­ber clubs in­clud­ing close neigh­bours Greenock High School For­mer Pupils and Gourock Ath­letic, elect­ing in­stead to stay with the Scottish Am­a­teur Foot­ball League and bat­tle on in search of that elu­sive pro­mo­tion to the Premier Di­vi­sion.

The one mile stroll from the chang­ing rooms at Parklea bowl­ing club along the banks of the Clyde to the grass park was a pleas­ant one made all the bet­ter when it re­vealed a good sized grass park bathed in Jan­uary sun­shine.

The hosts kicked off but it was Saints who im­me­di­ately gained pos­ses­sion, with Craig MacEwan win­ing a free kick 23 yards out and slightly left of cen­tre. Don­ald Camp­bell took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the dead ball but sent a poor ef­fort into the wall. Don­ald fared slightly bet­ter with the re­bound get­ting his shot on tar­get but with in­suf­fi­cient power to trou­ble Mark Turner in the OBU goal.

Camp­bell had an­other dead ball op­por­tu­nity in the fifth minute and lofted a good ball into the box how­ever the low sun shin­ing across the park made any high balls from the Saints right dif­fi­cult to pick out and Paul Carmichael mis­cued his header high and wide.

Carmichael fol­lowed this ef­fort up with a strong run on the left sup­ported by Myles McAuley. A 16-yard shot from Myles was blocked, with Craig MacEwan re­act­ing first to the loose ball and curl­ing an ef­fort to­wards the postage stamp cor­ner which Mark Turner got his fin­ger­tips to at the ex­pense of a cor­ner kick. There was again no joy from Camp­bell’s de­liv­ery from the right with the home de­fence com­fort­ably clear­ing the dan­ger.

OBU ven­tured for­ward for the first time in the 10th minute, with skip­per Iain McEwan get­ting away from Dene Cas­sells and send­ing in a shot from a tight an­gle which Thomas McCul­loch could only parry across the face of his goal. For­tu­nately for Saints, skip­per Marc Maccal­lum was alive to the dan­ger, get­ting back to mop up the loose ball ahead of lone OBU striker Kevin Franck.

Myles McAuley had a run through the mid­field halted un­fairly by Jor­dan Ax­e­wor­thy in the 16th minute. Paul Kerr took the free kick quickly rolling the ball to MacEwan who fed Camp­bell on the right hand cor­ner of the box. Camp­bell swung in a good cross look­ing for MacEwan’s run but MacEwan’s header, again made dif­fi­cult by the low sun, looped wide of tar­get.

The Oban side made the break­through which their al­most com­plete dom­i­na­tion de­served in the 19th minute. Camp­bell threaded a pass through the in­side right chan­nel for Brian Mackay who raced in be­hind the high OBU de­fen­sive line, around keeper Turner and squared to Carmichael who slid in at the back post to poke the ball into the un­guarded net.

Saints dou­bled their ad­van­tage five min­utes later when Carmichael gave chase to a long di­ag­o­nal ball from Dene Cas­sells, beat­ing Craig Hill in a foot race and pick­ing out Camp­bell, who timed his run to the back post per­fectly be­fore calmly stroking home from six yards.

The OBU de­fence claimed Camp­bell had strayed off­side how­ever ref­eree Jim McNeil was not in­ter­ested and turned down their ap­peals.

The sense of in­jus­tice con­tin­ued from the home side and Jor­dan Ax­e­wor­thy found his way into the ref­eree’s note book for an over-the-ball chal­lenge on McAuley just in­side the Saints half.

McAuley was in the thick of the ac­tion again in the 38th minute pro­vid­ing a cross from the left which Carmichael volleyed home a left footed thun­der­bolt for Saints third goal. McAuley con­tin­ued his pur­ple patch cre­at­ing an op­por­tu­nity for MacEwan in the 39th minute whose low right foot shot grazed the out­side of Turner’s left hand post on it’s way wide.

In the last ac­tion of the first half MacEwan was clipped just out­side the OBU box and was inches away from con­nect­ing with Camp­bell’s free kick which also found it’s way wide of Turner’s left hand post.

Saints kicked off the sec­ond half and im­me­di­ately re­sumed where they had left off. MacEwan curled a right foot shot to­wards the postage stamp cor­ner which Turner at full stretch fin­ger tipped be­hind for a cor­ner kick. Camp­bell’s de­liv­ery from the cor­ner flag was deep to the back post and was re­turned on the half vol­ley by Brian Mackay whose shot across the face of the goal flew nar­rowly wide of the post.

The early sec­ond half pres­sure from Saints bore fruit in the 48th minute when Craig MacEwan thumped a shot off the cross­bar and had the pres­ence of mind to gather the re­bound, trick his way past two de­fend­ers and roll the ball past the OBU keeper from ten yards.

There was to be no respite for the home de­fence as straight from the re- start MacEwan and Carmichael burst through again. Carmichae’s shot was blocked by Turner but MacEwan was on the spot to curl the loose ball high into the net for Saints fifth goal.

Full credit to the home side who de­spite be­ing well beaten all over the park never gave up or re­sorted to vi­o­lent tac­tics.

Their com­mit­ment to the cause was al­most re­warded in the 51st minute when for once they got the bet­ter of Saints solid mid­field and de­fence to cre­ate an open­ing for Iain McEwan. The OBU Skip­per sent a shot across Thomas McCul­loch who had to throw out a strong left hand to turn the ball round the post.

Saints rounded off a ram­pant 15 min­utes with a McAuley shot just wide of tar­get be­fore the on fire MacEwan sealed his hat-trick vol­ley­ing home a Scott Mait­land cross from the left.

Tor­men­tor in chief MacEwan de­clared on three and was re­placed by Ross Mait­land on the hour mark with Wil­lie Gem­mell and Dean Smith also join­ing the ac­tion to re­place Paul Kerr and Brian Mackay re­spec­tively.

A long ball over the top in the 65th minute caught out the oth­er­wise un­trou­bled Saints cen­tral de­fen­sive pair­ing of Marc Maccal­lum and Dene Cas­sells. Dene gave chase to Jor­dan Ax­e­wor­thy foul­ing the OBU mid­fielder in the process. The free kick gave the home side the chance to test Thomas McCul­loch but the un­event­ful af­ter­noon con­tin­ued for the big Saints keeper when Ax­e­wor­thy’s shot trun­dled harm­lessly wide of his left hand post.

As the sun dis­ap­peared from the sky both the tem­per­a­ture and the pace of the game dropped. Cas­sells con­tin­ued to push for­ward and com­bined with Mait­land to set up Gem­mell for a shot from dis­tance which flew wide of Turner’s left hand post.

In the 71st minute a good pass on the right from David McArthur sent Carmichael rac­ing up the touch­line. A ter­rific cross on the run from Carmichael was met at the near post by a div­ing header from Dean Smith on the six-yard line which Smith was dis­ap­pointed to see go well wide.

Gem­mell de­liv­ered a free kick into the box where Carmichael at­tempted an over­head kick which un­for­tu­nately he couldn’t con­nect well enough with sky­ing his spec­tac­u­lar ef­fort over the cross­bar.

Turner pro­duced three good saves in quick suc­ces­sion to deny Mait­land twice and then Smith at the near post at the ex­pense of a cor­ner kick.

The frus­tra­tion con­tin­ued for Smith in the 79th minute when he was just be­hind a tempt­ing cross from the right from David McArthur. Smith’s des­per­a­tion for a goal led him to snatch a 22-yard shot high and wide when a pass to Mait­land looked a far bet­ter op­tion.

Carmichael re­peated the feat just one minute later to take the missed chances tally com­fort­ably beyond those suc­cess­fully con­verted.

There was still time for Turner to pro­duce two more saves firstly leap­ing high to his left to claw away a Cas­sells shot and then a con­sid­er­ably more rou­tine stop from a Camp­bell ef­fort.

Turner’s saves and Saints way­ward fin­ish­ing en­sured no fur­ther scor­ing with the six nil win send­ing Saints through to the third round where they will face a trip to ei­ther Arkle­ston United or Shaw­lands F. P.

Man­ager Alex Craik was happy with the per­for­mance of his team. He said: ‘ We played some good foot­ball to­day. Port OBU weren’t the strong­est of op­po­si­tion but we did what we had to do. If I had any crit­i­cism it would be that we need to be more clin­i­cal in front of goals.

‘ We have a big Scottish Cup 5th round tie away to Tar­bolton on Fe­bru­ary 4 and we can’t af­ford to be miss­ing good scor­ing chances against the bet­ter teams.’

This Satur­day Saints are back on league duty with a home game against Fer­gus­lie Star who beat Saints 5- 4 in Pais­ley ear­lier in the sea­son so a tough game is an­tic­i­pated.

The match will be played at Glen­cruit­ten with a 2pm kick­off. Ref­eree in charge is John Stobo.

Match re­port and photos: Deek Black

Dene Cas­sells heads this ef­fort over the bar.

Craig MacEwan, No 8, seals his hat-trick

Paul Carmichael slides in to con­nect with this Brian MacKay’s cross to open the scor­ing.

Don­ald Camp­bell dinks the ball past OBU keeper Mark Turner to net Saints’ sec­ond goal.

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