Tough lesson for Pupils in sizzling season opener

Campbeltown Pupils AFC embarked on a new challenge on Saturday when playing their first match in the new West of Scotland Fourth Division. Photograph: Kenny Craig.

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Any doubts about the quality of the new West of Scotland Fourth Division were quickly dispelled as visitors Kilsyth put on a performance of pace and power in 27 degrees C of furnace-like heat at Kintyre Park last Saturday.

Campbeltown Pupils had to dig deep in the first half to stay with their opponents, a club ‘up to speed’ after an extensive pre-season programme of friendly fixtures.

The local boys, by comparison, were only playing their second match in almost three months – their fifth fixture in a year and half – so it would be premature to draw comparisons as the local favourites will take time to adjust to the demands and pace of senior football.

What was inspiring was the way the Pupils knuckled down and raised their competitive edge in the first half.

This was after going behind to a suspiciously offside goal but, in all fairness, to a team very much on top of its game.

However, the home side can count themselves extremely unlucky not to go in level at the break after scoring from close range with minutes of the half remaining only to see the goal disallowed for an infringement against the visiting goalkeeper.

Minutes earlier, another golden opportunity arrived when Scot Souden had a gilt-edged chance in front of goal, but his parting header unfortunately went straight into the arms of a relieved Kilsyth goalkeeper.

In the dying seconds of the first half, the dancing feet of the visitors’ winger caused major damage with a picture-perfect pass across goal for Kilsyth to make it 2-0 at the break.

The second half simply did not happen for a team struggling with lack of match time, and as the game slipped away, it soon became a case of damage limitation.

The difference between the sides was not athleticism, nor was it the quality of player. It was years of playing a soccer-academy strategy by the visitors.

The early and speedy use of the ball to feet was the same ball that kept the Pupils moving around the park throughout the match.

The closing of space as soon as possession was lost was the same denial of space that forced the Pupils into a long-ball game.

It will take time to adjust to the pace and accuracy of the new venture but adjust the club most certainly will.

It was a brave decision to join the SFA Pyramid system; a fantastic opportunity for the
youngsters in the Pupils own Academy to play all the way through to senior level.

Saturday’s match ball sponsor was Tesco of Campbeltown.

Also on Saturday Campbeltown Pupils Under 17s beat Rossvale – one of the most successful academies in the West of Scotland – 2-1.

Results and performances like this are what it is all about. Well done boys.

Next fixture: Saturday July 24 Campbeltown Pupils v BSC Glasgow. Kintyre Park. 2pm kick off.