Pupils stay cool to catch late winner

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Rhu AFC 2, Campbeltown Pupils 3

Campbeltown Pupils applied the perfect finish to their pre-season preparations with a hard-fought win over Rhu.

Having been regular visitors to the Caledonian League side’s summer tournament, winning the competition in 2014, the one-off match was played in a good spirit, but it was the Pupils who found their ruthless streak to snatch a win in the closing minutes.

Rhu, fielding a team with plenty of height and energy, featuring several former youth players from Dumbarton FC – and former teammates of Pupils’ playmaker Donald McCallum – threatened early on.

At the other end, though, the McFadyens-sponsored Pupils had first-half chances, with Scott Souden and youngster Calum McKillop both having one-on-one opportunities, but their efforts were stopped by the Rhu keeper.

The second half exploded into life on the hour mark as former Sons youth Callum Scott made his mark for Rhu, turning inside his marker to curl a classy left-footed finish beyond stand-in goalkeeper Ellis Robertson.

Undeterred, the Pupils searched for an equaliser, and were given the opportunity minutes later when a Rhu handball in the box was penalised by referee Thomas d’Alessandro.

John McCallum, playing as sweeper in a back three with Fraser Wylie and Ross Souden, stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and make it 1-1.

However, after a lapse in concentration, the Pupils conceded a second goal, a cleverly guided header from a near-post corner evading Robertson in goal.

Then, with the 22-degree heat and high humidity making the game hard work for both teams, the Feathers-sponsored Pupils rallied to equalise.

A sweeping move involving midfield trio Keith Mitchell, Stuart Crossan and Donald McCallum found Scott Souden, who made no mistake when bearing down on goal, lashing a right-foot shot past the Rhu keeper, to the delight of his teammates and the clutch of Campbeltonians making the long journey to spectate.

Then, in the dying seconds, after seeing shots blocked at their own end, thanks to some vital interventions from Robertson, the Pupils stole a winner when midfield substitute Finn Scott was teed up by Scott Souden to slot the ball home low beyond the Rhu keeper, ensuring the visitors completed pre-season unbeaten.

Pupils manager Campbell Robertson said: ‘The conditions were tough, but the boys played really well, and our shape was good too. We would like to thank Rhu Amateurs for their excellent post-match hospitality.’

Meanwhile, the Pupils’ centenary season officially starts tomorrow (Saturday) when they host Argyll rivals Lochgilphead Red Star at Kintyre Park, in the SAFL’s aptly named Centenary Cup, with a 2pm kick-off.

And with two more Saturday group matches to follow in August, firstly away to Dunoon and then at home to Tarbert, the Pupils will look to continue their dazzling pre-season form once the competitive action begins.

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