Spartans need Lucasz aid to Pole-axe Stirling in Lowland League thriller

Posted on Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Lukasz Rusin grabbed a late winner for Spartans in a pulsating clash at Ainslie Park as they defeated Stirling University 2-1 to go joint top of the Lowland League.

Lunchtime showers turned to glorious sunshine as the game kicked off at the Academy 5 minutes late due to the visitors having delays on the road to Edinburgh.

Gaffer Dougie Samuel drafted Lukasz Rusin into the side after his two goals for the East of Scotland team last week and there was also a place on the bench for youngster Blair Atkinson.

There was an early test for Uni keeper Marshall as a held on to a Cennerazzo effort and Grant hit the side netting shortly after as Spartans made the early running.

Stirling of course hadn’t made the trip through for a Festival weekend away and they stated their intent to keep their impressive record at Ainslie Park intact with a Geddes effort that kept Bennett on his toes.

McKinnon was an early recipient of a yellow card as Referee Hilland looked to stamp his authority on a game that had been full of football and devoid of any tough challenges thus far.

A Brown cross somehow hit the bar and bounced clear then Grant had an effort at goal that perhaps didn’t quite come as close to the goal frame.

However, despite having to soak up the pressure, it was Stirling who took a 29th minute lead.  Geddes took advantage of a defensive lapse in concentration and run on to a through ball that had the Spartans duo of MacKinnon and Main appealing for an offside flag.

The nippy striker was having none of it and raced into the area before leaving Bennett with no chance for the opener. 0-1.

With the half coming to a close, Brown almost pulled things level as his shot from inside the box on the angle beat the keeper at his near post but it only managed to trouble the side net.

Half-Time Spartans 0-1 Stirling University.

Chris Anderson came out to start the second half as he replaced Blaikie and he almost set up the equaliser within minutes of the restart.

A darting run through the middle made an opening for a delightful pass to Muhsin, unfortunately his cross could only be headed just over by Brown.

The whistler produced his notebook again, this time to book the busy Anderson for an alleged trip outside his own box.  After deliberation with his far-side Assistant, Stirling’s Geddes joined him on the naughty step with a yellow for some afters, much to the frustration of Uni boss Eddie May.

A clumsy challenge by Grant in midfield saw him complete the Spartans crime count for the day.

Whatley had a great chance to grab his first goal of the season as he attempted to curl a shot into the top corner however he didn’t get enough purchase on the delivery and it flew across the face of the goal.

One could sense that a change was necessary to inject a little something different into the Spartans play.  Dougie Samuel withdrew Robbie Ross from the frontline and he introduced Lukasz Rusin into the fray for his Seniors debut.

And it transpired to be quite the tactical stroke of genius from the Spartans Gaffer.

Moments later, an in-swinging Grant corner kick took Marshall by surprise and with the close attention from Anderson & Rusin, the ball sailed into the top corner of the net.  1-1.

This lifted the home side and Brown came close almost immediately from the restart however his header from 12 yards narrowly went past the post.  His frustration was clear as he gave the post a good blooter on his way past.

Both subs were involved in securing another 3 points to keep Spartans undefeated streak intact with a winning goal in the 82nd minute.

Anderson made a burst into the box and offloaded the ball to Rusin.  The Pole dragged it onto his favoured left foot and his strike at goal squeezed into the bottom right hand corner, just out of the despairing reach of Marshall, sending the home crowd wild.  2-1.

Stirling’s Sludden almost threatened to spoil the party as the game went into injury time and he can count himself unlucky as his audacious effort from the edge of the box hit Bennett’s bar and went out of play.

Final Score: Spartans 2-1 Stirling University

The hero of the day, Lukasz Rusin was naturally delighted to have scored the winner.

“It was an unexpected start for me however to come off the bench and score the winning goal – I’m very happy.”

With another game in midweek v Selkirk coming up, would he like another bite at the Seniors cherry?  “It’s always the Gaffer’s decision.  He knows me well, he’s watched me for a long time and if he decides I’m good enough to join his first team, then I’m happy to be part of it”.

A happy Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel noted that he was disappointed with his side’s first half performance however the tactical change a half-time paid dividends in the second half.

“We started the 2nd half so well and we were able to maintain that momentum and you felt that the goal was coming and when it did come, I think the players showed great desire to keep pushing for the winner and some days you just get a hunch that someone might come on and score a goal for you.

“We thought that the way the game was going, Lukasz and his style of play – he’s a busy player who loves to get in behind the defenders – gave us a feeling that he might get on and get at least one chance and that’s how it turned out.

“We’re delighted, but we are also extremely tired and exhausted because Stirling Uni are a very good side and you have to be on the best of your game to beat them. “

Team: Bennett, O’Donnell, Main, Blaikie, MacKinnon, Cennerazzo, Brown, Whatley, Ross, Grant, Muhsin.  Subs: Anderson, MacCuish, Rusin, Atkinson, Carswell.

Malt & Hops Man of the Match: Danny O’Donnell

Crime count: Yellow Cards – MacKinnon, Anderson, Grant

Next Fixture

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

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