Horribine hammers home late winner to seal Football Nation Final berth

Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2016

An injury time winner from Dean Horribine saw Spartans progress to the Final of the Football Nation Cup with a 2-1 victory over Gala Fairydean Rovers in an entertaining encounter in the cold at Ainslie Park.

Dougie Samuel’s cause was boosted by the news ahead of kick-off that Robbie McNab was declared fit whilst David Greenhill made an early return home from holiday to take up his midfield berth.

The opening five minutes of the game were played almost exclusively around the Borders side’s penalty box.  Dean Horribine set off like a slalom skier weaving between the gates that were Gala defenders within sixty seconds, his shot well saved with Keith Murray unable to keep the rebound under the bar.

Moments later, it was Horribine again tormenting the Rovers back division, this time Mark Wilson in the Gala goals somehow extending a paw to scoop the ball away from edging over the line.

When Lee Stephen dilly-dallied on the ball just outside his own 18 yard line, George Hunter nipped in however his final effort couldn’t trouble the grateful Wilson.

Spartans had a loud appeal for a penalty waved away by Referee Peter Stuart just before the half-hour mark when Colin Galbraith appeared to usher his clearance behind for a corner with the use of his arm.

Half Time: Spartans 0-0 Gala Fairydean Rovers

The second half started in a similar vein to its goalless predecessor.   Goalkeeper Wilson earning his corn once again with a top save from George Hunter.  The resultant corner finally saw the striker beat the stopper but not by enough to avoid crashing his shot off the bar.

Both benches then looked on anxiously as play was held up for a lengthy stoppage whilst Eddie Malone and Dean McColm received treatment after a clash of heads in the centre circle.  The added time for the delay was to prove crucial in the game’s outcome.

Spartans then introduced Jack Beesley in the 75th minute as the playmaker continues his return to form after a frustrating period out through injury.

Blair Carswell was called upon to deny Scott Noble after the Gala man found space behind the home defence and his save was perhaps his most crucial of the night.

Spartans then went from defence to attack in one fell swoop and after Hunter’s trickery and cross, it was a dream goal for Jack Beesley to put his side ahead.

Moments later, Beesley almost turned scorer to provider, setting up Jamie Dishington, only for the youngster to find the Gala crossbar with his header.

Taylor Hope was next to be thwarted by Carswell however there was real hope for the Borders side with just five minutes left when the keeper’s punched clearance was picked up by Ross Lamb who exquisitely lobbed the stranded goalie from circa 25 yards.  Cue scenes amongst the travelling faithful in the stand and the threat of a second extra time spell for Spartans in a few days.

Then, with the game deep into injury time, it was Samuel’s side who sealed a win that sees them progress to the Final where they will play either East Kilbride or Civil Service Strollers on Sunday March 20th.

Man of the Match Keith Murray’s cross finally made its way to Dean Horribine who hit an unstoppable strike past Wilson to send Spartans into their first final since their King Cup exploits in 2014.

The chance for a shot at silverware naturally pleased an ebullient Horribine.  The striker noted, “That’s probably my most important goal of the season so far I guess with it taking us to the final.  To be honest, we didn’t fancy extra time again and after missing a couple of chances, it was good to put that one away.”

Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Stevenson (Beesley 75), Malone (c), McNab, Greenhill, Brown, Dishington, Murray, Hunter, Horribine.  Subs (Not Used) Raiker, Mair, Saunderson, Rae (GK).

Malt & Hops Man of the Match: Keith Murray

Next Fixture

Date: Friday 17th May
Opponent: Dumbarton
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Play-Off Final 2nd Leg
Kick off: 7.30pm

cinch J-Teq EMS Solutions Ltd Spentwell JB Contracts (Scotland) Ltd
Mintbox Removals Johnstone Carmichael Consider IT Shepherd Chartered Surveyors
Sonsie Face Westwoods Health Club Mr Eion Coffee Hart Lifts
Soho IT CHAS Jim Martin