Late, late show as Pupils cruelly lose out

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St Peter’s FC 3
Campbeltown Pupils FC 2
WOSFL Division Four

Campbeltown Pupils were left to rue the loss of another late goal last Saturday after an 88th-minute strike resigned the Kintyre Park side to a narrow defeat away to St Peter’s.

Playing at Renfrew FC’s impressive New Western Park, the McFadyens-sponsored Pupils started the match brightly, despite another lengthy injury list which saw several established first-team players ruled out and others unavailable due to work commitments.

The Pupils took the lead before the 10-minute mark when John McCallum, playing at right wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, reacted quickest to Craig Lamont’s long throw-in, which bounced up on the dry synthetic surface, to guide a deft looping header beyond the reach of the St Peter’s keeper.

The Kintyre side had efforts from left winger Scott Souden and lone striker Sean Grady go wide of the target – the latter’s promising effort deflected wide of goal – while McCallum was released by Grady and rounded the hosts’ keeper only for his cutback to be cleared for a corner, away from the feet of the waiting Souden.

At the other end, the Pupils had a new-look combination in defence, with full backs Craig Lamont and Michael McKinlay, and Ross Souden in central defence partnered by 20-year-old debutant Antonio Akoulli, studying in Scotland and hailing from Thessaloniki, Greece.

The four had to be alert to the efforts of St Peter’s wingers Menzies and Lewis on either flank, and did so very well for the opening 25 minutes until a lapse in concentration saw Scott Lewis – signed from fellow WoSFL side Benburb FC for a transfer fee – ghost along the edge of the box and slot home a fine finish across keeper Alasdair Ferguson with his weaker left foot, into the young keeper’s bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-1.

Impressively, the Pupils rebounded from this setback and scored with 40 minutes played when Liam Renton, playing as an attacking midfielder, latched onto a ball from Scott Souden just inside the hosts’ box, and turned his marker sharply before guiding a left-footed shot beyond the keeper’s grasp.

All the while, the Pupils’ deep-lying midfield pairing – a real contrast of experience levels between skipper Keith Mitchell, and Conner Brown beside him making his club debut – continued to break up play and keep the Feathers Inn-sponsored side moving forward.

Despite this, there was a further scare in the visitors’ penalty area when St Peter’s hit the bar from a powerful volleyed shot on the stroke of half time, but the Pupils’ lead remained intact.

Into the second half, though, the Pupils were pegged back in the opening few minutes of proceedings, a clever turn and precise shot beyond the grasp of Ferguson providing a fine equaliser.

Admirably from a Pupils point of view, there was no onslaught from the division’s third-placed team, also boasting a loan signing from Greenock FC, another semi-professional side, in their midfield ranks, and smatterings of semi-pro experience across their starting 11.

However, what followed instead was a gradual build-up of pressure which the Pupils had to work increasingly hard to contain, the home side’s willing forwards continuing to probe for openings in the visitors’ defence.

The hard-working pair of Matthew Lang and Calum Houston were introduced in attack for the Pupils with 20 minutes remaining, with fresh legs required as the embattled visitors’ energy levels began to wane.

But even the dismissal of Lewis for the hosts, hitting out at Renton in reaction to a robust tackle from the latter, which earned the Pupils man a booking, couldn’t deny the Paisley side a late, late winner, a long ball going undefended in the Pupils ranks, and slotted home in the box by a St Peter’s midfielder to give them all three points, and in turn deny the Pupils a probably deserved draw.

The Pupils’ management team conveyed thanks to the travelling players for their efforts, even in defeat, and will surely take consolation from giving experience to young talent in the side, with four club debuts made in the space of week – after 18-year-old Andrew Renton’s appearance against Rossvale on cup duty – and within that clutch, a potentially very useful defensive addition.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the Pupils are at home to Glenvale FC, from Paisley, again on league duty, with kick off at 2pm.

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