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Lochgilphead Red Star 0
Oban Saints 2
Just three weeks after their last encounter, Oban Saints and closest neighbours Lochgilphead Red Star once again took advantage of Argyll and Bute’s tier two Coronavirus restrictions status to stage a friendly fixture at Lochgilphead Joint Campus last Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately the forecasted heavy rain stayed away for the most part making the journey home for the players, still in their playing kit, slightly less uncomfortable than it could have been.
Referee Jimmy Litster ensured strict matchday protocols, including no changing facilities or supporters inside the perimeter fencing, were followed by both sides.
Goals from Gavin Forgrieve and Captain Craig MacEwan gave Saints a deserved victory over their Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division One hosts.
The hosts were first to threaten and passed up a good early chance in just the third minute.
Breaking forward on the right wing Andy Weir had skipper Aaron Moore and Chris Hart to aim for and sent over a tempting cross which Hart headed wide of Graham Douglas’s left hand post.
Saints responded with a Gavin Forgrieve cross from the left which Aaron McKay at the back post headed back across the face of goal but just in front of the onrushing Matty Kelly.
The home side were defending well and it took until the 21st minute for Saints to register their first effort on target.
A sweeping move from right to left saw Scott Johnston pick out the overlapping run of Scott Maitland, who found Gavin Forgrieve in the box for a low shot which Ally Lewis held well to his left.
Young Red Star keeper Ally Lewis used his feet to good effect to take an Aaron McKay right wing cutback off the toes of Craig MacEwan after McKay and Ruaridh Horne had linked well in the 25th minute.
Matty Kelly managed to find a gap after being tee’d up by Craig MacEwan in the 33rd minute but Ally Lewis was equal to the task holding at the second attempt low to his right.
Saints finally found a way past Ally Lewis in the 39th minute but were thwarted by the frame of the goal.
Little and large wingers Aaron McKay and Cammy Hill switched wings and McKay on the Saints left burst into the box holding off the challenge of Andy Weir and lifted the ball over Ally Lewis only to see it come back off the crossbar before being thumped to safety by Kyle Selfridge.
Both sides made changes for the start of the second half. Martin Bonar replaced Scott Johnston for Saints while Chris Hart made way for Innes Meikle for the hosts.
The deadlock was broken in the 57th minute from a quickly-taken free kick by Cammy Hill after Martin Bonar had been brought down in the centre circle by James McGuiness.
Hill spotted Aaron McKay in space on the right and sent him scurrying forward. McKay cut into the box and picked out the run of Craig MacEwan who was foiled from six yards by Ally Lewis.
The young keeper’s good work was undone when he couldn’t hold MacEwan’s shot allowing the ball to spin away from him.
Ben Forbes was on hand with a sliding challenge to knock the loose ball away from MacEwan but only as far as Gavin Forgrieve, who gleefully tapped home from four yards.
Lewis saved again from MacEwan three minutes later this time managing to hold onto the ball at the second attempt before a neat Matty Kelly turn on the corner of the Star 18-yard box wrong footed Ben Forbes creating the space for Kelly to curl a ball to the far post a matter of inches in front of the outstretched boot of Scott Maitland.
Maitland got forward again in the 71st minute finding Gavin Forgrieve in front of goal. He took the ball down well only for Innes Meikle to get back with a vital challenge at the expense of a corner kick.
Martin Bonar climbed well at the back post to meet Forgrieve’s delivery from the right but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Despite being unable to hit the target himself Bonar was able to claim an 81st minute assist for the second and final goal.
The big midfielder, a key member of Red Star’s 2018 Scottish Amateur Football League Premier Division Two title winning side, won possession well in the centre circle and opened up his former team mates with a perfectly weighted pass for the forward run of skipper Craig MacEwan.
Top marksman MacEwan comfortably beat stranded Red Star keeper Ally Lewis with a deft chip from 28 yards into the unguarded net.
Referee Jimmy Litster, who ensured the two local rivals remained on friendly terms throughout, called time on proceedings after three added minutes with both sides satisfied to complete another 90 minutes while the majority of their respective league rivals remain side-lined.