Spartans have Scott the lot as Keeper helps side to Cup win v Gretna

Posted on Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Goals from Alan Brown and Keith McLeod send Spartans through to the 3rd Round of the Image Printers Cup after knocking out holders Gretna at Ainslie Park.

Spartans welcomed Gretna to the Academy as the two in-form teams in the Lowland League went head-to-head Cup combat, with the visitors keen to hold on to the silverware they won last season.

Before kick-off, both sets of players, mascots and the healthy crowd inside Ainslie Park respectfully observed a minute silence for Darren King, Brother of former Spartans Midfielder Alex King, who sadly passed away earlier this week.

An early opportunity for Spartans saw McLeod back-heel the ball into the direction of Donal Henretty however his shot failed to trouble Graham Wright in the Gretna goal.

The wind was picking up with it blowing a hoolie down on pitch-side, causing both sets of players difficulties in controlling the ball which was akin to one of the £1.99 fly-aways those of a certain vintage will recall getting at Christmas.

A ugly challenge by James Earl on McLeod saw the Gretna man head into Referee Charleston’s book, with McLeod picking a yellow in the same incident.

Moments later, Man of the Match Scott Bennett was called into action to deny Lewis Todd as he Grenta striker raced in to the box. The Keeper showing why he’s the in-form shot-stopper in the Lowland League, staying big to push the ball away. On the stroke of half-time, the big Australian was the Spartans saviour once again, this time diving full length to thwart Joe Slattery.

Half Time: Spartans 0-0 Gretna 2008

The supporters were treated to a footballing display during the interval from the Spartans 2005 kids, a great initiative from the Club, showcasing the stars of the future, today.

Gretna started the livelier of the two teams after the break and as they looked to keep hold of the trophy the won last season against Stirling Uni. The tie, which had to be played to a finish, was looking precariously close to heading towards extra time, with neither side looking contenders for a goal.

Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel introduced Chris Anderson for Jack Beesley, a welcome return for ‘Ando’ after his month loan spell to Peebles.

With ten minutes to go, Spartans made the breakthrough. Alan Brown’s half-volley hit the back of the net after McLeod’s flick on fell kindly into the midfielder’s path. His shot whizzed past Wright to put Spartans 1-0 up.

Before the restart, it was a second substitution for the home side, with Jack Beacher coming on for Kevin Motion.

As the game entered injury time, the icing on the cake came with a goal from – yes, you guessed it – Keith McLeod! The Scottish Sun Lowland League’s October Player of the Month notched his 256th goal in his 376th appearance in the Spartans colours.

Donal Henretty turned his man on the touchline before squaring the ball across the 18 yard line. McLeod collected the ball before looking up and slotting the ball past a stationery Wright into the net to send Spartans through to Round 3.   A special mention has to be made for Cloudy’s ‘forward roll’ celebration – perhaps inspired by Donal’s match programme comments!

Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel was full of praise after what he said was his side’s toughest test of the season so far, “The combination of difficult conditions and Gretna playing at the top of their game made it one of our toughest games of the season so far.

“I thought Scott Bennett fully deserved his MOM award which is an indication of how difficult it was today. However, we finished the game strongly and found a way to win.  In the last 20 minutes we passed and kept the ball better which was key.”


Next Fixture

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

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