Pupils still proud despite narrow defeat

Ellis Robertson scored in the first half of last Saturday's match.
Ellis Robertson scored in the first half of last Saturday's match.

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Finnart FC 3
Campbeltown Pupils FC 2
West of Scotland FL – Division Four

Campbeltown Pupils FC put on a brave and battling performance last Saturday as a threadbare side lost out narrowly to league leaders Finnart.

The Kintyre side travelled to Springburn Park with only 13 fit players and some, such as stand-in goalkeeper Neil McKay, Fraser Wylie, Johnny McCormick and Ryan McConnachie, making their first appearances for the Pupils this season.

The travelling Pupils’ players were forced to change in their minibus after a changing room mix-up by the local council.

The Pupils’ arduous task was made even more difficult after this less-than-ideal preparation by an injury to Keith Mitchell in the first minute, which prompted the McFadyens-sponsored Pupils to bring on young forward Conner McMurchy earlier than expected.

The Pupils had an excellent first-half against the odds, but found themselves one down when a shot cannoned back off the bar and into the net off the back of McKay.

Undeterred, the Pupils equalised when Scott Souden finished off a neat move from the left flank to knock the ball beyond the Finnart ‘keeper from just inside the box and make it 1-1.

The Pupils made a goalkeeping change after the interval, as Ellis Robertson went from central defence to don the gloves, after an injury to McKay, and McConnachie filled in at centre back.

The visitors were dealt a further blow when Michael McKinlay was sent off after a 50-50 aerial duel in which the Finnart striker was admittedly fouled but some 40 yards from goal and with covering Pupils defenders on the run, a punishment for McKinlay that was extremely harsh on reflection.

The referee produced another bewildering decision when he awarded the home side a penalty, despite McConnachie looking to have made an excellent block on the Finnart number 10’s touch inside the box.

Finnart then made it 3-1 with a powerful header home after an inviting corner, but the Feathers Inn-sponsored Pupils rallied to pull a goal back with 10 minutes remaining.

John McCallum beat the advance of the Finnart keeper to head to his fellow centre half McConnachie, who sent a delicate looping header over a host defender on the goal-line to score.

The away side, otherwise unbeaten on the road, pressed hard for an equaliser, despite finding themselves stretched in other moments by Finnart’s numerical advantage, and McMurchy had a good chance to equalise but his shot was just too high.

McMurchy had another chance in front of goal with minutes remaining, but the Finnart ‘keeper did well to block it at close range.

The Pupils can be proud of their performance, with stretched resources, against the league leaders but a special mention goes to Ross Brown who did an excellent job for the team in the unfamiliar position of left back.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Pupils are away to Kilsyth Athletic with a 2pm kick-off.