Saints march into last 16 of Scot­tish Cup

The Oban Times - - Sport -

OBAN Saints were made to dig deep at Tar­bolton Pub­lic Park on Satur­day to bat­tle their way through to the last 16 of the Scot­tish Amateur Cup.

Hosts Tar­bolton Am­a­teurs of the Ayr­shire Amateur Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Pre­mier League used the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions to their ad­van­tage to keep the tie hang­ing in the bal­ance un­til the dy­ing sec­onds.

The match was played on some­thing re­sem­bling a ploughed field and ref­eree Steven Ni­cholls was in two minds as to whether the sur­face was fit for play. In­deed, had it not been for some vig­or­ous fork­ing from the grounds­man and the rain which had fallen steadily for days abat­ing in time for kick off, the match would surely have been post­poned.

With the ex­cep­tion of in­jury vic­tim Paul Carmichael, Saints Gaf­fer Alex Craik stuck with the same start­ing 11 which had fired six past Fer­gus­lie Star at Glen­cruit­ten on the pre­vi­ous Satur­day.

Dene Cas­sells re­turned to re­place Carmichael along­side David McArthur in the cen­tre of de­fence. Last week’s ab­sen­tees Don­ald Camp­bell, Jamie Gra­ham, Myles McAu­ley and Marc Mac­cal­lum joined Martin Bonar on an ex­tremely strong bench.

With the strong wind and low sun at their backs, Saints took the match to their hosts from the first whis­tle. Ross Mait­land failed to work Tar­bolton keeper Al­lan McKelvie with a first minute shot from 18 yards which cleared the cross­bar by some dis­tance.

The tall shot stop­per was tested in the third minute af­ter a long throw from Wil­lie Gem­mell was flicked on by Craig MacEwan. Dean Smith re­acted first to MacEwan’s header but saw his ef­fort stopped by the feet of McKelvie.

A heavy chal­lenge on MacEwan by Tar­bolton full back Evan Armstrong gave Gem­mell a chance to show his dead ball prow­ess from 25 yards.

Af­ter a slight de­lay for some shirt pulling on Cas­sells by Johnny Dun­lop, which at­tracted the at­ten­tion of ref­eree Ni­cholls, Gem­mell’s low shot left McKelvie rooted to the spot but un­for­tu­nately slipped wide of big keeper’s right hand post.

Saints had their hosts pinned back in­side their own half and made the break­through af­ter 12 min­utes with Gem­mell claim­ing the as­sist.

MacEwan won an­other free­kick on the left which Gem­mell swung into the packed penalty box.

McArthur got in be­tween Blair Kennedy and Bran­don Hen­dren, and from eight yards out glanced Gem­mell’s de­liv­ery into the bot­tom corner of the net past McKelvie’s right hand.

Af­ter 15 min­utes of be­ing pinned back in­side their own half, a Matthew Kelly foul on Jason Sco­bie in­side the cen­tre cir­cle gave the hosts their first chance to get for­ward. The long ball from Evan Armstrong was, how­ever, too heavy for Stephen Brodie and drifted harm­lessly through to Thomas McCul­loch.

The route one foot­ball em­ployed by the hosts against the wind was rel­a­tively com­fort­able for the Saints back four to deal with and it took un­til the 22nd minute for Tar­bolton to cre­ate their first chance of note.

Again from a long ball Brodie turned well away from Cas­sells and car­ried the ball through the in­side right chan­nel and into the Saints box.

Cas­sells’s close at­ten­tions forced Brodie wide and his low shot was blocked at the near post by McArthur at the ex­pense of a corner. MacEwan beat Iain Philips and Steven Richard­son to head the corner clear, with Cas­sells lead­ing the charge from the back be­fore be­ing stopped in his tracks by a crude chal­lenge from Sco­bie.

From the free-kick Ross Mait­land put Tar­bolton’s McKelvie un­der pres­sure forc­ing the keeper to con­cede a throw-in on the Saints right. Gem­mell found the head of MacEwan on the six yard line and his down­ward header was blocked by the feet of McKelvie on his goal line.

The re­bound looked per­fect for Smith, how­ever be­fore he could poke the ball into the net he was pulled back byDun­lop. McKelvie pounced on the loose ball and the un­sighted Mr Ni­cholls dis­missed the penalty claim, adding in­sult to in­jury by tak­ing Smith’s name for his protes­ta­tions.

As the clock ticked down to­wards the half time in­ter­val, Saints be­came less of an at­tack­ing threat, too of­ten look­ing for an ex­tra touch on the boggy sur­face which favoured the hosts more di­rect style.

Smith did man­age to test McKelvie in the 37th minute with the big keeper mak­ing a good save to his right to turn Cas­sell’s 20-yard ef­fort be­hind for a corner.

Saints knew that the sec­ond half wind ad­van­tage would bring an aerial bom­bard­ment from the hosts, how­ever they failed mis­er­ably to deal with the first test and con­ceded the equaliser 40 sec­onds af­ter the restart.

From the Saints kick off MacEwan and Brian Mackay drove at the heart of the Tar­bolton de­fence with the fi­nal ball from Mackay just be­yond MacEwan leav­ing McKelvie an easy task to col­lect at the edge of his box. The kick from the hand of the keeper car­ried al­most to the Saints 18-yard line where McArthur missed his header al­low­ing Brodie to run in be­hind and lift the ball over Thomas McCul­loch and into the net to make the score 1-1.

With their first half ef­forts un­done in an in­stant, Saints knew they were in for an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult 45 min­utes or so.

The in­evitable lump up the park again caused panic in the Saints de­fence with McArthur head­ing out for a throw-in. This then brought an­other use­ful weapon into play for Tar­bolton, with Phillips launch­ing a Rory De­lap- style low tra­jec­tory long throw into the dan­ger area which Scott Mait­land man­aged to turn be­hind for a corner.

The corner kick from the right was met at the near post with a spec­tac­u­lar over­head kick from Brodie which flew nar­rowly wide of McCul­loch’s left hand post.

At the other end a pow­er­ful run from Mackay forced a corner on the Saints right which sparked a stra­mash in the Tar­bolton box. In a fran­tic spell Cas­sells, Gem­mell, Mackay and Smith all had ef­forts blocked by the Tar­bolton de­fence be­fore McKelvie fi­nally safely gath­ered a tame shot from the edge of the box from McArthur.

Af­ter only 10 sec­ond half min­utes, man­ager Alex Craik rang the changes bring­ing on the ex­pe­ri­enced Marc Mac­cal­lum, Myles McAu­ley and Don­ald Camp­bell to re­place Matthew Kelly, Smith and Ross Mait­land.

There was panic in the Saints de­fence once again in the 64th minute with McCul­loch hav­ing to claw away an in- swing­ing corner from the left at his near post.

Camp­bell sent Mackay up the left wing with 20 min­utes to go where Mackay’s per­se­ver­ance won an­other corner. Gem­mell’s de­liv­ery was short to the near post look­ing for MacEwan who made a good run but sent his hooked shot wide of the post.

Gem­mell then made way for Jamie Gra­ham which sig­nalled a change to a 3-5-2 for­ma­tion with Gra­ham slot­ting in at the back along­side Mac­cal­lum and Cas­sells.

The front pair­ing of MacEwan and Camp­bell linked up in the 81st minute cre­at­ing the open­ing which would lead to Saints sec­ond goal. MacEwan showed good strength to hold off Dun­lop and hook the ball over his head for Camp­bell to run on to.

Camp­bell made his way into the box where his run was held up by Armstrong.

Camp­bell turned and ran across the box draw­ing an in­ju­di­cious chal­lenge from Armstrong which sent Camp­bell sprawl­ing in the mud.

Mr Ni­cholls had no hes­i­ta­tion in point­ing to the penalty spot from where MacEwan gave Saints the lead tuck­ing the ball neatly into the bot­tom corner of the net.

MacEwan had a shot just wide of tar­get be­fore ref­eree Ni­cholls an­nounced four min­utes of stop­page time. The added min­utes gave the hosts some re­newed hope how­ever that was quickly snatched away from them when they con­ceded the sec­ond penalty kick of the af­ter­noon.

Camp­bell sent the ev­ery will­ing Mackay rac­ing up the left wing and into the edge of the box where he was hauled down by the un­for­tu­nate Armstrong. MacEwan once again made no mis­take from the penalty spot to fi­nally calm the nerves on the side­lines and send Saints through to Fri­day’s seventh round draw.

Man­ager Alex Craik was a re­lieved man af­ter the match. He said: ‘ We were ex­pect­ing a tough match and that is ex­actly what we got. How­ever, the boys bat­tled for ev­ery ball on a pitch that re­sem­bled a ploughed field.

‘ The con­di­tions meant that free flow­ing foot­ball was at a pre­mium but we did enough to get through to the last 16 of the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.’

Saints re­turn to league duty on Satur­day with a home game against Drum­chapel Colts who beat the Oban side 2-1 ear­lier in the sea­son. The match will take place at Glen­cruiten with a 2pm kick- off. Ref­eree in charge is John Stobo.

Match re­port and pho­tos: Derek Black

David McArthur wheels away af­ter open­ing the scor­ing in last Satur­day’s Scot­tish Amateur Cup tie at Tar­bolton.

Don­ald Camp­bell is sent sprawl­ing in the box by Evan Armstrong for Saints first penalty of the match.

Craig MacEwan slots home the first of his two penal­ties in the match.

Brian Mackay con­grat­u­lates Craig MacEwan af­ter he slots home his sec­ond penalty of the match.

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