Heart­break for Saints as they lose out to late goal against league cham­pi­ons

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

SAFL Premier Di­vi­sion

REIGN­ING Scot­tish Ama­teur Foot­ball League Premier Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­ons St Joseph’s ex­tended their Glen­cruit­ten win­ning streak to four games in a five-goal thriller last Satur­day.

Just as they had in their 4 - 2 win at Wil­liam Street at the tail end of last sea­son, Saints re­cov­ered from a two-goal deficit to haul them­selves back into con­tention, how­ever, this time it was the Dun­tocher men who had the added de­sire to force the win­ner.

With man­ager Alex Craik at a wed­ding, coaches Jamie Gra­ham, Peter MacCal­lum and sec­re­tary David Buchanan were in charge of team af­fairs.

The in­struc­tions from the gaf­fer were to stick closely to the pre­vi­ous week’s win­ning line-up adding only the re­turn­ing Scott Mait­land and David McPhee. How­ever, a late calloff from Shaun MacIver meant an ear­lier than planned out­ing for re­cov­er­ing in­jury vic­tim Paul Carmichael.

Saints kicked off at­tack­ing the rail­way end but it was the vis­i­tors who looked hun­grier giv­ing the home side no time on the ball. Martin McComish’s late chal­lenge on Ally McKer­racher gave Wil­lie Gem­mell an early chance to put the ball in the dan­ger area but Wil­lie’s de­liv­ery was too long for Craig Campbell at the far post. McComish tested the pa­tience of ref­eree Peter Laing again in the sec­ond minute with an­other heavy chal­lenge on McKer­racher with Mr Laing happy just to have a quiet word with McComish.

Saints had the first ef­fort on tar­get in the ninth minute from the head of David McPhee. McPhee’s cen­tral de­fen­sive part­ner Craig Campbell won an im­por­tant in­ter­cep­tion mid­way in­side the Saints half and launched the ball for­ward for Paul Carmichael who won a cor­ner kick on the right. David McPhee beat Ryan Halpin to Wil­lie Gem­mell’s de­liv­ery but his ef­fort was straight at Sean Gib­bons who made a com­fort­able save.

A fan­tas­tic block by Fraser Mur­ray pre­vented Ally McKer­racher from test­ing the keeper in the 15th minute af­ter a good move on the right in­volv­ing Matthew Kelly and Paul Carmichael. The same three linked up again three min­utes later with McKer­racher this time claim­ing that his shot was blocked by the hand of Kearn Docherty but Mr Laing dis­missed the Saints ap­peals for a penalty kick.

Daniel McKenna clipped a de­cent ef­fort over the cross­bar be­fore St Joseph’s new sign­ing from lo­cal ri­vals Gold­en­hill opened the scor­ing for the vis­i­tors. From a harm­less look­ing ball from Craig Cameron deep in­side his own half the Saints rear­guard was opened up far too eas­ily with McKenna run­ning through to slot the ball past the hope­lessly ex­posed Gra­ham Dou­glas.

Ref­eree Laing drew the ire of the Saints bench for an ex­tremely tight off­side call against Paul Carmichael in the 26th minute be­fore a tame shot from Ally McKer­racher 60 sec­onds later slipped harm­lessly wide of tar­get.

Gra­ham Dou­glas came to the res­cue in the 29th minute throw­ing him­self to his right to tip a Ryan Halpin shot round the post for a cor­ner kick.

Be­fore the restart Daniel Croarkin, who was suf­fer­ing from stom­ach cramps, was re­placed by Myles McAu­ley mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance of the sea­son. Myles took up a po­si­tion in mid­field with Scott Mait­land drop­ping back to fill the left-back role va­cated by Croarkin.

Saints threat­ened in the 38th minute. From deep in­side his own half on the left Myles McAu­ley linked up well with Craig MacEwan to send Ally McKer­racher tear­ing to­wards the bye-line. Ally out­paced Craig Cameron to fire in a left foot cross which was inches be­yond the out­stretched boot of Paul Carmichael racing in at the far post.

With five first half min­utes re­main­ing Saints cap­tain Craig MacEwan su­perbly chested down a high ball just in­side the left touch­line and was hauled back by his well-beaten op­po­site num­ber Craig Cameron. To the amaze­ment of both sets of players Mr Laing pe­nalised MacEwan for hand-ball with the protests from the irate Saints players con­tin­u­ing for sev­eral min­utes.

The sec­ond half be­gan in dis­as­trous fash­ion for Saints con­ced­ing a sec­ond goal just two min­utes af­ter the restart. Paul Carmichael won a free­kick on the edge of the St Joe’s box which Cameron Harkins saw out for a goal kick. From Sean Gib­bons’ goal kick Harkins raced to the other end and de­liv­ered a cross from the left wing which Daniel McKenna headed back across goal for Ryan Halpin to dive in and head past Gra­ham Dou­glas.


Paul Carmichael’s per­se­ver­ance on the edge of the D cre­ated an open­ing for Craig MacEwan with the Saints skip­per draw­ing a smart save from Sean Gib­bons at his near post.

Saints hauled them­selves back into con­tention in the 56th minute when Craig MacEwan con­trolled a Wil­lie Gem­mell long ball wide on the right and picked out Paul Carmichael slid­ing in at the back post to poke the ball past Sean Gib­bons.

The vis­i­tors al­most im­me­di­ately re­stored their two-goal ad­van­tage with only the out­stretched left foot of Gra­ham Dou­glas deny­ing Daniel McKenna from the restart.

With 15 min­utes re­main­ing Ally McKer­racher, who still looks a lit­tle short of full match fit­ness, was re­placed by Steven MacLeod. The change of per­son­nel also brought an­other po­si­tional switch with Matthew Kelly mov­ing into mid­field and Steven MacLeod tak­ing Matthew’s right-back berth.

In his new ad­vanced role Kelly had a big hand in Saints’ 80th minute equaliser. Link­ing up well with Scott Mait­land on the left, Kelly forced his way to the edge of the St Joe’s box. The ball broke to Craig MacEwan, who pro­duced an ex­quis­ite turn to es­cape the at­ten­tions of Craig Cameron and Fraser Mur­ray and stroked the ball into the bot­tom cor­ner past the left hand of Sean Gib­bons to make the score 2-2 – game on.

St Joe’s made an 83rd minute change with Stephen Dal­las re­plac­ing Ally Gra­ham in at­tack be­fore Mr Laing made an­other con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion which this time ben­e­fited the home side. Keith Mil­lar and Stephen Dal­las had a com­ing-to­gether in the Saints box and, much to the re­lief of all in navy blue, the de­ci­sion which could have gone ei­ther way was given in Mil­lar’s favour. The sense of re­lief for Saints un­for­tu­nately evap­o­rated af­ter 88 min­utes when Scott Smith was given too much time and space to carry the ball from mid­field into the Saints box. The com­bined ef­forts of David McPhee and Steven MacLeod couldn’t stop Smith from get­ting a left foot shot away which squirmed un­der the ad­vanc­ing Gra­ham Dou­glas and nes­tled in the bot­tom cor­ner much to the de­light of the St Joe’s con­tin­gent.

Mr Laing al­lowed a full five min­utes of stop­page time, but try as they might Saints were un­able to threaten the St Joe’s goal giv­ing the vis­i­tors the full three points and a happy bus jour­ney back to Dun­tocher.

Sec­re­tary David Buchanan said: ‘We never got into our stride in the first half and when St Joe’s scored their sec­ond goal we looked to be in big trou­ble but credit to the lads they dug in and we man­aged to play some good foot­ball to get back on level terms but to lose the goal so close to the end was dev­as­tat­ing.’

Saints are back at Glen­cruit­ten on Satur­day when they play Cam­bus­nethan Tal­bot Com­mu­nity in the sec­ond round of the West of Scot­land Cup. Kick-off is 2pm with ref­eree Jimmy Lit­ster in charge.

Match re­port and pho­tos: Derek Black

Saints cen­tral de­fender David McPhee gets his header on tar­get but it was well saved by Sean Gib­bons.

Myles McAu­ley made a wel­come re­turn to the Saints squad.

Paul Carmichael slides in to knock the ball past St Joseph’s keeper Sean Gib­bons to make the score 2-1.

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