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Campbeltown Pupils 3
SAFL Premier Division 1
A torrid ninety minutes enthralled a large Kintyre Park crowd.
A rollercoaster of a game, last Saturday, was almost thrown away in the closing stages by a combination of complacency and poor decision making from the home side.
Everything started so brightly for the McFadyen sponsored Pupils, as the home favourites raced to what looked an unassailable three goal lead, only to be left hanging on for dear life as Claremont battled for a share of the points in the closing minutes.
The Pupils once more dominated the early exchanges, with the direct running of Sary Rahma, Donald McCallum and Gregor McFadyen causing the visitors all sorts of bother as the home side searched for the opening goal.
Nevertheless, it was not till the 20th minute before the crucial breakthrough arrived – a perfectly flighted corner kick from Ryan Deans reaching Jamie Burns who sent a powerful header into the net.
The home side were in dreamland when centre forward Sary Rahma turned on a sixpence inside the box, only to be uncermoniously upended after some close attention from a stalwart defender and the goalie.
Prostrate on the ground, the Pupils quick-silver centre forward reacted quickly to steer the ball home while still on the ground, a great piece of skill to put the home side two goals ahead on the half hour mark.
Claremont roared back into the match with 15 minutes of the first half left, but scorned a number of chances to narrow the deficit as the clock ticked down.
Home goalkeeper, Coffield, was forced to make a point blank save with his legs, this before the visitors were denied by the crossbar’s underside, and thereafter by some last gasp defending from Rhys Blair and Ellis Robertson.
Regaining their composure, the Pupils looked to have secured full points when a goal-bound shot from Ryan McConnachie was fisted clear by a Claremont outfield player.
The penalty kick driven home by a grateful Sary Rahma to give his side a three goal cushion with twenty minutes of the match remaining.
That should have been game, set and match, but the home side contrived to make it hard for themselves through a combination of complacency and some suicidal possession on the edge of their own box.
Claremont scored twice in the 71st and 84th minute, both goals of the gift wrapped variety as the home side seemed ready to implode.
Brothers Paul Knotts and Mark Knotts brought on as subs at half-time gave the visitors a fighting chance.
The first came for Paul as his brother broke through and played the ball square letting him slot it home from 10 yards.
Mark told the Courier: ‘The Pupils’ keeper ran out and I chipped it past him with a sidefoot shot.’
It was a nervous end to a game in which the Pupils played well in stages, only to almost throw valuable points away with some uncharacteristic defending at the eleventh hour.
Scott Campbell excelled for the visitors, with his opposite number Keith Mitchell having an excellent game in the home colours.
It was a personal confrontation enjoyed throughout, not only by the two players, but also a large and appreciative audience.
With nine points from three matches, the Pupils have made the perfect start to the season and sit proudly at the top of the division.
Time will tell if they have the tenacity to stay the course.
Jamie Burns header is firmly in the back of the net. 25_c36pupils18
Coffield’s great first half save left him in agony. 25_c36pupils21
Mercurial Sary Rahma on the way to his first goal. 25_c36pupils23