Spartans in Border control as Murrell hat-trick is passport to pre-season success at Duns

Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Spartans got their pre-season off to winning ways with a 2-8 win in the Borders sunshine against East of Scotland side Duns.

For Dougie Samuel, the first friendly outing gave the Spartans gaffer the opportunity to cast his eye over new signings, youngsters from the u/20s set-up and Trialists in a useful 90 minutes played at the lovely surroundings of New Hawthorn Park.

The youthful looking tourists took a 16th minute lead when new signing Keith Murray grabbed his first goal in Spartans colours after Dan Ward let the ball run into his path in the box before he drilled it low out of the reach of the Duns keeper.

Duns, who face our East of Scotland side in the Qualifying Cup in August, equalised in the 23rd minute when Connor Duvanney left Blair Carswell rooted the spot with a thumping free-kick from the edge of the box.

Spartans lead was restored four minutes later after two neat passes from defence to attack saw Blair Aitkinson race into the box before guiding the ball home.

With ten minutes of the half left, Craig Stevenson, who recently became a father, made a perfect delivery of his own with a well worked goal after a patient nine-pass build up to send the teams into the sheds for a welcome break from the heat with Spartans 1-3 ahead.

HT: Duns 1-3 Spartans

The second half was barely 32 seconds old when substitute Dean Horribine executed a move made directly from the restart as he thundered the ball home from the narrowest of angles.

Dan Ward, another of Samuel’s summer signings added a fifth in the 64th minute.  The Benny Hill theme tune wouldn’t have looked out of place as Stevenson’s initial strike hit the bar then Ward’s headed rebound met a similar fate.  The keeper then recovered to stop a net bound attempt from close range before the ball finally made it over the line.

To their credit, Duns continued to press and just two minutes later, they pulled another goal back.  Luke Strangeways collected the ball out wide before cutting back inside then released an unstoppable drive from 25 yards drawing applause from the sun-seeking supporters inside the ground.

As it is with friendlies, a host of substitutions took place and with Spartans 2-5 ahead, last season’s U/20s striker Aaron Murrell was given the nod by the boss.

The phrase “Impact sub” is often overused however there can be no doubt over the 12 minute hat-trick the youngster proceeded to bag following his introduction to the game.

His triple-whammy began in the 70th minute when Murrell broke the offside trap from a Horribine pass just inside the Duns half and the teenager showed great confidence and strength to leave the Duns defence for dead to make it 2-6.

Horribine was then fouled in the penalty box offering the Referee his easiest decision of the game and it was Murrell who stepped up to push the ball out of the reach of the keeper to slot home.

The hat-trick came in the 82nd minute after fine play in midfield allowed Murrell to pick up the ball on the edge of the box before he unleashed an unstoppable drive that left the Duns No.1 defeated despite his despairing dive.

FT: Duns 2-8 Spartans

Spartans Team: Carswell, Herd, A. Trialist, Imlah, B. Trialist, Greenhill, Stevenson, Grant, Murray, Ward, Atkinson.  Subs: C. Trialist, Dishington, Horribine, Murrell, D. Trialist. (Note: The Trailists are not related!)

You can watch all the goals courtesy of our man in the stand ‘Grim O’Grady’ here

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Next Fixture

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Date: Saturday 15th December
Opponent: Dalbeattie Star
Venue: Islecroft Stadium
Competition: GeoSonic Lowland League
Kick off: 3.00pm

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