Pupils overcome Hillington in close-fought match

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Campbeltown Pupils 2, Hillington 1

SAFL Premier Division One

This was more like it from the McFadyen-sponsored Pupils team, as an enthusiastic home crowd willed them to victory last Saturday.

This came after an excruciating season which saw them draw on no fewer than seven occasions.

The result was also extremely important for a home side in rebuilding mode, putting in a solid team performance against a very good third-placed Hillington squad.

It wasn’t a brilliant performance, but it was one of grim determination to see a close-fought match across the line, a much improved display when not in possession that restricted the visitors to few chances throughout the 90 minutes.

The home team got off to a flier when loose possession presented Donald McCallum with a run on goal. The ex-Dumbarton man made full use of his opportunity, outstripping the stranded defence to round the keeper and slide the ball home after only 60 seconds of play.

It was just what the doctor ordered, and a free-flowing Pupils side should have added to their total during the opening exchanges of the match at Kintyre Park.

Nevertheless, the visitors finally managed to quell the home side’s early enthusiasm and, with the advantage of a stiff breeze, began to dictate the pattern of the first-half.

Some of their approach work was first class and, after the calamity of sliced clearance under pressure, the home side were fortunate to see the ball bounce off the top of the crossbar to safety.

There was another let-off when a firmly driven free kick was saved by Alasdair Ferguson, the ball rebounding to the forward who crashed the leather off the base of the post.

Both sides had their moments in a tight first half, but the game suddenly sprang to life in the opening minutes of an intriguing second period of contrasting styles of play.

Again, it was that man McCallum who did the damage. The Pupils’ front runner collected the ball wide on the right, before skillfully beating his defender to send an unstoppable left-footed drive into the far corner of the visitors’ net.

At this point it was a deserved cushion for the home side, but the two-goal advantage quickly disappeared on the back of a penalty kick for the visitors.

It seemed an innocuous challenge as both players rose to head the ball, but after some deliberation the kick was awarded for foul play.

Hillington made no mistake from the spot, and once more the game was back in the melting pot.

Well-marshalled by man of the match, Fraser Wylie, the Pupils never looked like conceding a second goal, but could have extended their lead when a Martin McCallum strike was brilliantly saved by the Hillington goalkeeper in the closing stages.

An industrious performance by Ryan McConnachie also contributed to the victory, but overall it was a gritty team performance by everyone in a red shirt that eventually won the day.

Campbeltown Pupils AFC would like to thank the local branch of joinery firm Howdens and its manager, Archie Martin, for the kind donation of £200 towards the club’s general running costs.

The Pupils have no fixture this weekend due to a break for Easter.

Pupils goalkeeper Alasdair Ferguson saves a free kick. 25_c16pupils01_Alasdair Ferguson

A strike from Martin McCallum was saved by the Hillington keeper in the closing stages of the match. 25_c16pupils02_Martin McCallum

Donald McCallum scored for the Pupils after just 60 seconds of play. 25_c16pupils03_Donald McCallum

An industrious performance by Ryan McConnachie contributed to the Pupils’ victory. 25_c16pupils04_Ryan McConnachie

Pupils player Liam Renton in action on Saturday. 25_c16pupils05_Liam Renton

Ross Souden keeps control of the ball. 25_c16pupils06_Ross Souden