Pupils succumb to table-topping Kilsyth

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Campbeltown Pupils FC 1
Kilsyth Athletic FC 5
WoSFL – Division Four

Campbeltown Pupils competed well last Saturday at home to Division Four league leaders Kilsyth Athletic – but still came up short in a six-goal affair.

Counting the cost of several absences due to long-term injuries and Covid-19 infections, the Pupils named a relatively inexperienced squad but there were still familiar faces at Kintyre Park.

This included the return of Donald McCallum for his first start since August, and Ryan Deans – scorer from the Pupils’ last outing, on December 18, against Harthill Royal – playing as a lone frontman in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

McCallum and Deans linked up well in the opening stages and, along with Crossan and Robertson in central midfield, worked hard on a heavy Kintyre Park pitch to keep the team moving forward against the dominant side in the division so far this season.

However, no goal could be found for the Pupils in the first half and it was the visitors who led at the break, 1-0, after the Pupils conceded a penalty, when the Kilsyth number nine got the wrong side of a Pupils defender and was brought to ground.

The Kilsyth striker dusted himself down to slot his kick low to keeper Lorne Paterson’s left-hand side.

A notable debutant in goal for the McFadyens-sponsored Pupils, young keeper Paterson acquitted himself very well after being called into the squad at short notice, one of the community football club’s successful under-17s side doing so much good work in their regional Sunday league this season.

Four minutes into the second half, Paterson pounced to make a stunning point-blank save from a close-range effort from Kilsyth, before sending the ball forward, after which Ryan Deans pounced on some defensive indecision to run through on goal and equalise for the Pupils.

In a one-v-one situation with the Kilsyth keeper, Deans kept his composure, feigning a chip to wrong-foot the keeper, before calmly passing a low shot into the right side of the goal.

However, the Pupils’ plans were undone due to a madcap 10-minute spell which saw them concede three goals, with visitors’ recent signing Joseph Bevan scoring two of an eventual hat-trick after some classy finishing on his favoured left foot.

The Feathers-Inn sponsored Pupils tried again to rally at 4-1 and had a good chance to score when Robertson freed John McCallum to play in Andrew Renton.

Renton advanced on the left side of the box, but the youngster’s touch when bearing down on goal was just on the heavy side, and allowed the keeper to lunge at his feet and collect the ball at the last moment.

Kilsyth made it 5-1 with 12 minutes remaining to end the match as a contest, giving the score line a harsh look from a Pupils’ perspective, having competed well with their lofty opponents for an hour of the contest.

And while such defeats are always tough for a team’s players and management, they still offer valuable on-field experience for the young Pupils players in the squad, as they adjust to a higher, more physically demanding level of football in the West of Scotland FL.

The Pupils have nine fixtures left to play this season – five at home and four away – and are on the road again tomorrow (Saturday) against second-placed Finnart FC, at Springburn Park. Kick off is 1.30pm.

Campbeltown Pupils’ squad: Lorne Paterson, Conner Brown, Jamie Burns, Ross Souden, Craig Johnstone, John McCallum, Stuart Crossan, Donald McCallum, Ellis Robertson, Kenny Kerr, Ryan Deans. Subs (all used): Matthew Lang, Andrew Renton, Calum McKillop.