Pupils compete well but lose to league leaders

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Campbeltown Pupils FC 0
Finnart Star FC 2
West of Scotland FL Division Four

Campbeltown Pupils saw their hard work count for nothing in the end in a bittersweet home defeat to league leaders Finnart Star last weekend.

Finnart and the Pupils, old foes from their time in the Scottish Amateur Football League, have played out two close games so far this season – with the Pupils’ trip to Glasgow in August ending in a tight 3-2 defeat.

And last Saturday’s defeat came about through a goal each in the early and late stages of the match, despite a strong showing from the Kintyre Park side.

Playing in a 4-2-3-1, Tarbert’s Craig Johnstone returned to central defence and John McCallum played on the left wing in place of the unavailable Rhys Casci, while Liam Renton returned to the fray on the right of the front three, in place of the injured Ross Brown.

To compound all the chopping and changing of the team beforehand – a common feature of Pupils’ line-ups due to injuries and work commitments in recent weeks – the Kintyre side suffered a huge setback on the pitch after two minutes.

A Finnart corner, for all the world a Pupils’ goal kick, was awarded by the referee, and the visitors’ near-post delivery was flicked on and diverted into the net by a Finnart head at the back post.

Although the award of the corner was thought to be unjust, the home side was left reflecting on a set piece which could have been defended much better.

The McFadyens-sponsored Pupils gradually settled into the game after this early shock and enjoyed decent spells of possession, if perhaps only resulting in half-chances at goal – notably through a Scott Souden header which went narrowly by the post – throughout a tightly-contested first half.

After the interval, the Pupils continued to press for an equaliser, but their battle-hardened visitors, who have enjoyed the winning habit for most of this season so far, were well organised in defence, with experienced substitutes adding a calmness to their play.

Nevertheless, working hard in search of an equaliser, the Feathers Inn-sponsored Pupils had a foray into the Finnart box midway through the second half when Stuart Crossan played in John McCallum with a deft flick, but the latter’s right-footed shot flashed wide of the Finnart goal.

McCallum found space in the box again soon after and cut the ball back to Scott Souden, a little too far behind, but was bailed out by the onrushing Liam Renton, who looked to have the goal at his mercy, but somehow a Finnart defender got back to block the close-range effort.

Meanwhile, Pupils captain Keith Mitchell had switched from a midfield berth to left back during the second half, and the change was bearing fruit with a good deal of the Pupils’ play developing down this flank.

However, more frustration was to follow for the home side in the 83rd minute, as the Pupils’ defence was exposed in a two-vs-one situation and an unmarked Finnart forward latched on to a through-ball and lashed a shot beyond young Pupils ‘keeper Alasdair Ferguson to give the visitors an unassailable 2-0 lead with so little time remaining.

It was a bitter blow for the home side having put so much effort into earning at least a point, but hopefully it can be taken as another lesson in game management from an experienced and well-drilled opponent.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the Pupils are on their travels, taking on Paisley outfit Glenvale FC on league duty at the town’s Ferguslie Park. Kick off is 2pm.

For more information follow @PupilsAFC on Twitter or Campbeltown Football on Facebook.