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Freelance Article
By Stuart Fraser
Saturday 11th July 2009

OBAN SAINTS will be one of the luckiest amateur clubs in the country when they take on Dundee United’s first team today as part of their pre-season schedule.

The Scottish Amateur Premier Division outfit will host the annual Keyline Challenge Cup in the small Argyll town which features Alloa Athletic, Dundee United, Hamilton Accies, Hearts and St Johnstone.

Although the other SPL clubs will be bringing second-string sides and youth players, Dundee United manager Craig Levein confirmed he will be bringing his full squad to the tournament in what will be their first taste of pre-season action.

The format will see each club play against each other in 30 minute matches and this is what attracted Levein to the tournament.

Levein said: “It’s a competition I like, and the format suits us perfectly for what we need at this stage of the season.

“It allows me to take a full squad over there and give everyone a game.  That’s something we couldn’t do in a 90 minute match.”

As expected, Dundee United won the tournament last year with their strongest squad and although they will expect to retain the trophy, the manager insists it won’t be easy.

He said: “Although we may be facing some lower division teams and some youth teams, it’s a hard day and it’s never easy to score goals.

“It worked well for us last year and, hopefully, we’ll get the same benefit this year.”

The Tayside club’s three new signings in Stevie Banks, Danny Cadamarteri and Jennison-Myrie Williams will all feature in Oban today although Gary Kenneth will miss out due to a knee problem which has required an injection.

The tournament is one of the most unique in Scotland with fans from different clubs standing alongside each other on the touchline with refreshments in hand. 

It is the intimacy of the day that is expected to attract hundreds of travelling fans to the town and David Buchanan, Oban Saints secretary, has been inundated with e-mails from fans looking for more information.

Buchanan said: “I get e-mails every day from guys looking for directions and how much it is going to cost to get in.

“There are a lot staying up for the weekend so not only is it good for the tournament but it is good for the town as well.”

The Oban club have just commenced pre-season training this week and have a history of doing well on home soil and Buchanan is delighted with the challenge the tournament provides for his amateur club against professional opposition.

He said: “It is a good test for the boys but we normally do quite well in this tournament.

“It doesn’t faze the guys at all. Last year, Dundee United only beat us 1-0 with Noel Hunt scoring with two or three minutes to go.”