By Holly McCormack at Ralston Training Ground
A YOUNG Saints side booked their place into the Renfrewshire Cup final following an emphatic 16-0 victory against Port Glasgow Old Boys Union.
The team was made up largely of the young St Mirren players from last season’s Under-20 squad who have been promoted to the first team squad this season along with first team squad regulars Lee Mair, Darren McGregor, Jon Robertson and Thomas Reilly who all featured from the start in front of a couple hundred fans.
The match was just minutes old when Saints took the lead from the penalty spot. Reilly stepped up confidently and struck it low past the Port Glasgow keeper. The goalie managed a strong hand but it wasn’t enough to stop Saints taking the advantage after just three minutes.
It was refreshing to see Reilly back in the team after battling injury last season. The young striker was involved in the play again but blasted his attempt over from close range.
Another goal didn’t take too long to come. Anton Brady picked up the loose ball and hit a clever dig from close range to double the tally with just 12 minutes gone.
The sun may have been shining in the sky over Ralston but from that minute onwards, it started to rain goals in this semi-final clash.
It was Reilly again who raced forwards towards goal after beating the offside trip, the youngster used his experience to stay cool and round it past the keeper and into the net.
Whilst it’s great to see Reilly perform well, equally so to see McGregor feature in the side was like for a second season running, having a new player in the ranks. The talented defender racked up his first goal of the night just minutes after seeing another header cleared off the line. McGregor found himself back in a goalscoring position and this time his header did hit the target.
With 20 minutes gone, the game hit some controversy. One of the players for the opposition side made a bad tackle on Robertson which only merited a yellow card. Another player in the side though reacted angrily to the booking and dished out verbal abuse to the referee. The balance of the game was shifted well in Saints favour when the player was red carded for the abuse.
Five minutes later and Brady doubled his tally increasing the lead to an impressive 5-0. The striker made short work of converting the chance from close range leaving the Port Glasgow keeper to pick the ball out of the net for a fifth time.
Reilly was involved in another chance as he received the ball and tried to chip the keeper but it sailed wide.
One of the strikers for the opposition then had a rare surge forward as he got close to goal but it didn’t come close to troubling Christopher Dilo. It was Reilly again who raced forward and placed the ball into the right-hand side of goal.
Just before half-time there was another goal for Saints courtesy of Mo Yaqub. He picked up the loose ball, showed composure and rounded the keeper to place Saints 7-0 ahead at the break.
Half-Time: St Mirren XI 7-0 Port Glasgow OBU
It didn’t take long for the team to find their shooting boots at the start of the second half. Young Barry Cuddihy struck the ball from over 20 yards out and into the bottom left corner. Another sign of the promising talent coming through the ranks at Ralston.
Sean Kelly was the next player on the scoresheet. The defender played a low cross into the box but it rebounded off the keeper and into the net.
Saints then moved onto double figures and the young defender was again involved. A perfect pass played forward by Kelly was met perfectly on the head of Reilly who notched up the 10th goal of the night and his 4th. Not a bad night in Paisley but there was more still to come.
At this point, Saints opted to change the lineup and bring on some fresh faces.
Another player to hit a double was McGregor who powered another header into the net. Just minutes later Brady secured his hat-trick with another strike in off the keeper.
One of the subs who came on was Jordan Stewart and he made an immediate impact on the game. The young starlets first strike might’ve been unlucky for some but certainly not for him. Jon Scullion netted the 14th of the match with a long strike. The match was well won by this point but Stewart managed to score another two securing a hat-trick after coming on as a sub.
It was an impressive all round performance from the young guns, not unexpected that we would make the final with no real problems. The talk of the terraces at the end of the match though was the final score setting a possible new club record for most goals in a match, previous record was 15-0 against Glasgow University.
Next up in the Renfrewshire Cup is Morton in Saturday’s final and Saints will be hoping to retain the grand old trophy for another year.
Full-Time: St Mirren XI 16-0 Port Glasgow OBU
St Mirren XI: Dilo, Mair, McGregor, Naismith, Robertson, Kelly, Dillon, Cuddihy, Yaqub, Brady, Reilly.
Subs: Williams, Scullion, Mallan, Thomson, Stewart, K. Hughes (GK).
Match report pictures and match gallery pictures © Allan Picken Photography.