A Night to remember in Elgin

Posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

To the delight of a small band of fans in Elgin and many hundreds more keeping tabs on the score via text, Setanta, Sky, BBC radio and various websites it was a long last 15 minutes after Gavin scored.  It was actually a more even game than the one ten days ago.  We had fewer chances and Elgin played a bigger stronger team which caused us problems.  At the end of the game our pace just edged it.  Many thanks to the hospitality again from the Elgin committee.  They have a great vision for the club.  They are committed to bringing through local youngsters and are in the early years of a very good Youth set up.  We are sure they have the infrastructure and committee to move up the table and in due course out of SFL3.

Gavin slots home from about a foot

Gavin slots home from about a foot

Thanks to Keith Anderson and the News for the following report.

SPARTANS’ roller-coaster ride in this season’s Homecoming Scottish Cup is still very much alive after their two young students, Omar Kader and Gavin Malin, notched the goals to ensure a 2-1 victory against Third Division side Elgin City.

And match-winner Malin revealed just how much his strike meant after his dad had made such a long trip from the north of England to watch the game .

Malin, a Sports Science student at Napier University, said: “It was good for the team to win and to score was a personal bonus. We worked hard for each other and we had to dig deep.

“It was good for my dad who had travelled up by train from Lancashire to see me play so now he can look forward to another trip up to Airdrie.”

Although Elgin had initially won this third round tie 2-1 only ten days ago, the SFA ordered the game to be replayed because both clubs had fielded ineligible players. Elgin played goalkeeper Joe Malin who they signed from Ross County on loan while Spartans had not registered youngster Dean Hoskins who came on as a late substitute.

So Spartans travelled back up to Borough Briggs and the game was only four minutes old when they fell behind to what they regarded as a dubious penalty. Spartans captain Stewart Fowlie was adjudged to have fouled striker Kenny Wright. Fowlie was aggrieved at the decision on three counts. He said: “First I thought he was offside when he received the ball, then my tackle, which I felt was fair, was committed outside the penalty box.”

However, Spartans recovered quickly from that early setback although they had already created two opportunities through Keith McLeod and Daniel O’Donnell who appeared to be tripped in the penalty box as he was about to shoot.

Elgin showed much more aggression and commitment than they had done in the first game and they almost increased their advantage in the 27th minute when a long range shot from Darren Shallicker smacked off the face of the crossbar with Chris Flockhart beaten. The incident spurred Spartans into attack and Malin had two shots from distance which did not trouble Ally Ridgers, who had replaced the ineligible Joe Malin in the Elgin goal.

The equaliser arrived eight minutes before half-time when Ross Archibald threaded a pass to Kader in the right-hand channel where he darted into the penalty box and hit an accurate shot low into the far corner of the net.

It was a just reward for the Heriot-Watt University student who revised for four hours on the coach journey to Elgin in preparation for a finance exam which he was due to sit today. The same player could have put Spartans ahead before half-time but he hit a loose ball in the six-yard box high over the bar.

Mark Nicholson, who scored Elgin’s “winner” against Spartans the previous Saturday, almost netted again but his fierce header hit the underside of the crossbar and was cleared.

McLeod then brought out two good saves from Ridgers before Spartans scored the vital second goal. Malin hit a low shot which Ridgers could not hold and the ball appeared to roll over the goal-line before the goalkeeper did pull the ball back into play. The alert Malin was first to react and promptly smashed the loose ball into the net from close range.

There was a spate of yellow cards for Elgin as they seemed to lose their marbles and although McLeod had a goal disallowed for offside it is Spartans who go forward to the fourth round where they will meet Airdrie United.

Spartans have now defeated top Juniors side Pollok after a replay, Annan Athletic, and Elgin City in a twice-played fixture to maintain their fine achievements against SFL opposition in recent years.

Fowlie, who has participated in all of these adventures, said: “It was really quite an open game of football played at a high tempo right from the start. Losing that early goal was a dent in our plan but not a disaster.

“We knew that we could get down the flanks and then get crosses into the penalty box. Both teams were committed to pushing players forward which is our philosophy. People like me do the dirty work in defence while others go root-toot-tooting forward.” Elgin is another scalp for Spartans joint manager Mike Lawson and he can now look forward to locking horns with Airdrie United manager Kenny Black, previously head coach with Edinburgh University, and who was an interested spectator at Elgin last night.

Lawson said: “We lost a dubious goal and at 1-1 at half-time and with Elgin having a strong wind behind them I knew that we would have to compete. I keep beating this same drum saying that we have to show that we can play SFL sides on a level playing field. I doubt if any neutral observer could tell which was the SFL team on the park last night.

“I am delighted for the players, the club and the entire East of Scotland League as I felt that all the football was played by Spartans. We now meet Airdrie United who are managed by Kenny Black, the only manager in the entire SFL who has any knowledge of East of Scotland League football.”

Elgin City: Ridgers, Nicolson, Macdonald (Gilbert 77), Niven, Kaczan (Kerr 46), Hind (Crooks 70), Campbell, O’Donoghue, Wright, Shallicker, MacKay. Subs: Ramsay, McNulty.

Spartans: Flockhart, O’Donnell, Fowlie, Archibald, Gerrard, Manson, Malin, Kader (Devlin 84), Walker, McLeod, Henretty. Subs: Hair, Woods, Snodgrass, Smart

Next Fixture

Date: 23/07/24
Opponent: Forfar Athletic
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Premier Sports Cup
Kick off: 7.45pm

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