Saints re­tain Ar­gyll and Bute cham­pi­onship

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

Af­ter 200 min­utes of foot­ball, plus a nerve-shred­ding penalty shoot-out, in mist, rain and scorch­ing sun­shine, Saints emerged vic­to­ri­ous from this year’s Ar­gyll and Bute Cup in Lochgilp­head. The tour­na­ment was once again ar­ranged by Lochgilp­head Red Star, who were ex­cel­lent hosts for the pop­u­lar eight­team event. Tak­ing part this year were cup hold­ers Oban Saints, hosts and last year’s run­ners-up Lochgilp­head Red Star, tour­na­ment reg­u­lars Dunoon, Neil­ston and Tar­bert, debu­tants Kil­syth and Port Glas­gow and, mak­ing a wel­come re­turn af­ter a few years of ab­sence, Camp­bel­town Pupils.

Group One re­sults

Pupils 1 - 0 Tar­bert Kil­syth 3 - 1 Dunoon Pupils - Dunoon Kil­syth 0 - 0 Tar­bert Dunoon 1 - 1 Tar­bert Pupils 0 - 1 Kil­syth Group Win­ners: Kil­syth Run­ners-up: Pupils

Group Two re­sults

Red Star 0 - 0 Oban Saints Neil­ston 0 - 2 Port Glas­gow Neil­ston 2 - 3 Red Star Saints 2 - 0 Port Glas­gow Oban Saints 3 - 0 Neil­ston Red Star 0 - 0 Port Glas­gow Group Win­ners: Oban Saints Run­ners-up: Red Star

Lochgilp­head Red Star 0 Oban Saints 0

Saints were drawn in group two and got pro­ceed­ings un­der way against hosts Lochgilp­head Red Star on the ar­ti­fi­cial sur­face at Lochgilp­head High School a lit­tle af­ter the sched­uled 10am start. The guilty party for the de­lay was Red Star keeper Luke Kalache who, in true laid­back Aus­tralian style, had man­aged to sleep in.

Saints’ first real chance came in the 12th minute when Shaun MacIver sent James Ford rac­ing through on goal but Star goal­keeper Luke Kalache an­tic­i­pated the dan­ger and came quickly off his line to make a good block,

Kalache made a com­fort­able save from Lewis Cameron and Fraser MacFar­lane and Paul Carmichael both sent head­ers wide of tar­get be­fore ref­eree Pat O’Don­nell brought the first 20-minute pe­riod to an end.

Star were quick­est out of the traps for the sec­ond half and Saints were re­lieved to see Innes Meikle steer a shot wide of tar­get in­side the first minute.

Saints re­cip­ro­cated with a James Ford ef­fort wide of Kalache’s left-hand post be­fore the big keeper made a good save at his near post to deny Shaun MacIver. MacIver was in­volved again in the 37th minute latch­ing onto a Matt Rip­pon pass be­fore fir­ing a low ball from the right across the face of goal, which just evaded Fraser MacFar­lane com­ing in at the back post.

Kalache had the fi­nal word com­ing through a ruck of play­ers to punch clear a Wil­lie Gem­mell free-kick leav­ing both teams to set­tle for a sin­gle point apiece.

Oban Saints 2 Port Glas­gow 0

Saints handed a start­ing place to 15-year-old Aaron McKay for their sec­ond game where two goals in­side the open­ing four min­utes were enough for the hold­ers to see off Port Glas­gow.

Things might have been dif­fer­ent had Ruar­idh Horne not been guard­ing the far post to clear a header from a long throw-in off the goal-line in the sec­ond minute.

Saints, how­ever, cap­i­talised fully by im­me­di­ately break­ing up the park through player of the tour­na­ment Lewis Cameron. James Ford latched onto Cameron’s per­fectly weighted pass and lifted the ball over the ad­vanc­ing keeper and into the net.

Within 60 sec­onds of the restart Saints dou­bled their ad­van­tage from a good move up the right wing. Lewis Cameron, Ruar­idh Horne and James Ford were all in­volved be­fore Ford played a tempt­ing cut­back which Shaun MacIver glee­fully lashed into the bot­tom cor­ner.

Saints re­tained the up­per hand but couldn’t add to their tally with a dip­ping long range ef­fort over the bar from Kerr New­big­ging the clos­est they came be­fore ref­eree Don­ald McCal­lum sounded the half-time whis­tle.

Co-man­ager Don­ald Camp­bell made a brief ap­pear­ance re­plac­ing Shaun MacIver up front for the fi­nal 10 min­utes.

Lewis Cameron even­tu­ally drew a save from the Port keeper in the 32nd minute which he held well low to his right.

The Port num­ber one pulled off a sen­sa­tional save to deny James Ford in the 39th minute, fling­ing him­self to his left to parry away a right foot pile driver.

Oban Saints 3 Neil­ston 0

Af­ter a brief stop­page Saints kicked off Group Two’s fifth game against Neil­ston. There was to be no re­peat of the light­ning quick start to the pre­vi­ous match with Saints manag­ing to worry Neil­ston keeper Gareth Ful­ton on just one oc­ca­sion.

The half-time in­ter­val brought a change of per­son­nel with Kerr New­big­ging re­plac­ing Wil­lie Gem­mell in mid­field.

An ap­peal from co-man­agers Don­ald Camp­bell and Wil­lie Gem­mell for the goals nec­es­sary to se­cure top spot in the group was an­swered in­side the first minute of the sec­ond pe­riod when Fraser

MacFar­lane tucked a neat low fin­ish past the right hand of Gareth Ful­ton.

MacFar­lane should have dou­bled his tally 60 sec­onds later but shot straight at Ful­ton from 18 yards.

Fraser MacFar­lane made way for James Ford on the left with 11 min­utes re­main­ing but it was down the right wing that Saints got their sec­ond goal.

Graham Dou­glas held a long Rob­bie McNa­mara free-kick and quickly threw the ball out to cap­tain Dene Cas­sells, who launched a counter-at­tack up the Saints right. Jamie Graham car­ried the ball al­most to the bye-line and fizzed a low ball across the face of goal where Don­ald Camp­bell slid in to di­vert the ball high into the net beyond Gareth Ful­ton.

Saints added a third with three min­utes re­main­ing when Don­ald Camp­bell played in Kerr New­big­ging who strode for­ward and thumped an em­phatic fin­ish from 18 yards past Ful­ton’s right hand.

The win guar­an­teed Saints a place in the semi-fi­nals but left them sweat­ing on the out­come of the fi­nal group match to find out whether they would qual­ify as group win­ners or run­ners-up.

Red Star and Port Glas­gow fought out a 0-0 draw en­sur­ing Saints took top spot in Group Two.

Semi-fi­nals

Oban Saints 1 Camp­bel­town Pupils 1

Saints win 6-5 on penal­ties. A change to the sched­uled run­ning order saw Saints con­test the first semi­fi­nal against Group One run­ners-up Camp­bel­town Pupils. A bright start saw Saints come close twice in the open­ing min­utes through un­likely source Alex Craik. From a Fraser MacFar­lane cor­ner on the right the for­mer gaf­fer had a shot de­flected be­hind be­fore he placed a header from another MacFar­lane cross wide of tar­get 60 sec­onds later.

MacFar­lane was again closely in­volved when he was sent sprawl­ing in the Pupils box in the fifth minute un­der a chal­lenge from Keith Mitchell. Ref­eree Pat O’Don­nell had no hes­i­ta­tion in point­ing to the penalty spot from where Lewis Cameron calmly gave Saints the lead.

Saints were un­able to take full ad­van­tage of their early dom­i­na­tion and Shaun MacIver drew a save low to his left from Camp­bel­town’s young keeper be­fore head­ing a Fraser MacFar­lane cor­ner kick over the cross­bar.

The half-time in­ter­val, cou­pled with a raft of changes, seemed to dis­rupt the Saints rhythm and, de­spite at­tack­ing up the Rope­work park slope, it was the Pupils who were look­ing the more likely to add to the scor­ing.

Pupils came close twice in the open­ing min­utes be­fore a trip in the box by Paul Carmichael handed them an op­por­tu­nity to level the scor­ing from 12 yards which was grate­fully ac­cepted.

The goal pro­vided the wakeup call that Saints needed but try as they might they could find no way through the stuffy Pupils de­fence which pro­tected their very youth­ful goal­keeper well.

Mr O’Don­nell’s fi­nal whis­tle sig­nalled the need for a penalty shoot-out where kicks num­bers 17 and 18 would ul­ti­mately prove de­ci­sive.

With the goal­keep­ers hav­ing made three saves and the wood­work al­ready be­ing struck three times, Pupils cap­tain Keith Mitchell rat­tled kick num­ber 17 off the cross­bar giv­ing young Saints full back Ruar­idh Horne the chance to clinch a fourth suc­ces­sive Ar­gyll and Bute Cup fi­nal for Saints.

The young Pupils keeper made a valiant at­tempt to keep his side in the tie but Horne’s well placed ef­fort nes­tled in the bot­tom, much to the re­lief of the Saints con­tin­gent.

Kil­syth 2 Lochgilp­head Red Star 3

The sec­ond semi-fi­nal was an en­ergy-sap­ping five-goal thriller which the hosts nar­rowly shaded. Kil­syth took a first-half lead through Kyle Craw­ford but were soon pegged back by a Ben Forbes won­der strike.

Red Star took the lead in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances when striker Gre­gor Pea­cock went down rather eas­ily from what ap­peared to be a le­git­i­mate aerial chal­lenge in the Kil­syth box. Ref­eree Peter Laing was, how­ever, con­vinced oth­er­wise and pointed to the penalty spot from where Andy Weir suc­cess­fully con­verted.

Par­ity was re­stored just be­fore the half-time in­ter­val when a mis­take in the Star de­fence al­lowed Kyle Craw­ford to poke home his sec­ond of the match.

Red Star re­gained the lead mid­way through the sec­ond half through John Kennedy and with­stood some in­tense late pres­sure as Kil­syth gave ev­ery­thing to force an equaliser.

By now strug­gling with a leg in­jury, Star keeper Luke Kalache pro­duced last-minute hero­ics to tip over a Jamie Kerr free-kick and rise in a packed six-yard box to safely gather the re­sult­ing cor­ner kick.

Fi­nal Lochgilp­head Red Star 1 Oban Saints 3

Cup hold­ers Oban Saints and tour­na­ment hosts Lochgilp­head Red Star faced off in a re­peat of last sea­son’s fi­nal at the Rope­work. Star had the ad­van­tage of kick­ing down the slope in the first half and came close to open­ing the scor­ing in the sec­ond minute when Innes Meikle found the side net­ting from a tight an­gle.

Saints sur­vived another scare 60 sec­onds later when a low cross from the left across the six-yard line nar­rowly evaded Andy Weir steam­ing in at the back post.

Star keeper Luke Kalache denied Shaun MacIver with a good save in the sev­enth minute but could do noth­ing to prevent Matt Rip­pon’s ninth-minute strike from giv­ing Saints the lead.

Rip­pon pushed for­ward from his mid­field hold­ing role to sup­port Scott Mait­land’s run on the left and got on the end of Mait­land’s cross to find the bot­tom cor­ner from 16 yards.

Good press­ing by James Ford on the 15-minute mark forced a cor­ner kick on the Saints right which the Star de­fence man­aged to bun­dle be­hind for another cor­ner this time from the op­po­site flank.

Lewis Cameron’s de­liv­ery into the six-yard box looped over the de­spair­ing grasp of Kalache and found the head of Shaun MacIver who glanced home from a yard out.

The first half ended with Saints well in con­trol and by now good value for their twogoal lead.

With ev­ery­body still with gas in the tank, there were no ma­jor half-time changes and only Shaun MacIver was with­drawn to be re­placed by Don­ald Camp­bell.

Saints con­tin­ued to look the stronger side af­ter the restart with Red Star lack­ing the legs to pose any real threat.

Ruar­idh Horne made way for Jamie Graham in the 33rd minute and the vet­eran de­fender made an in­stant im­pact, link­ing up with Lewis Cameron on the right to set up James Ford for the third goal.

Ford’s sweet low strike from the right edge of the penalty flashed across Luke Kalache and into the bot­tom cor­ner to dis­pel any lin­ger­ing doubts about the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of the sil­ver­ware.

Saints took ad­van­tage of their three-goal cush­ion to give all of their substitutes a run-out and even a late con­so­la­tion goal for the hosts from a long-range Cameron McDonald strike couldn’t take the shine off an ex­cel­lent day for the play­ers and new man­age­ment team Don­ald Camp­bell and Wil­lie Gem­mell.

The teams re­tired to the Stag Ho­tel where for­mer Red Star stal­wart Hughie Lind­say pre­sented the cup and tro­phies to the win­ning Oban Saints team as well as the match of­fi­cials – Pat O’Don­nell, Don­ald MacCal­lum, Jimmy Lit­ster and Peter Laing.

Saints were due to play South Lochaber This­tle on Wed­nes­day evening but the op­po­si­tion could not get a team to travel to Oban. In­stead they man­aged to ar­range a friendly with their un­der-19 team.

The Oban side be­gin their SAFL Pre­mier Divi­sion pro­gramme with a home game against Ar­gyll ri­vals Dunoon. This match will take place on Satur­day Au­gust 18 at Glen­cruit­ten, kick­ing of at 2pm. The fol­low­ing Satur­day they travel to take on Bar­rhead Arky at Cowan Park.

Saints have been given a tough game in the first round of the Scot­tish Am­a­teur Cup where they travel to take on Gart­cosh United. This game is sched­uled for Satur­day Septem­ber 1.

Shaun MacIver wheels away in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter head­ing the ball into the net to put Saints 2-0 in front in the fi­nal

15-year-old Aaron McKay made his first-team de­but for Saints.

Saints’ Lewis Cameron was voted player of the tour­na­ment.

Matty Rip­pon is con­grat­u­alted by Dene Cas­sells, Paul Carmichael and Wil­lie Gem­mell af­ter open­ing the scor­ing against Red Star in the fi­nal.

Oban Saints man­age­ment team Don­ald Camp­bell and Wil­lie Gem­mell.

Ruar­idh Horne net­ted a pres­sure penalty against Camp­belt­won pupils to put Saints into the fi­nal.

Oban Saints cap­tain Dene Cas­sells with the Ar­gyll and Bute Cup.

Ar­gyll and Bute cham­pi­ons Oban Saints are pic­tured with their mas­cots Saul Wal­ton and James Black. Tour­na­ment re­port and pho­to­graphs: Derek Black

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