Under 20s: Spartans reach Knock-Out semi after win at Watt

Posted on Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Three fantastic first half strikes were enough to give Spartans victory over Heriot Watt University to reach the Semi Final of the Under 20s League Knock-Out Cup.

With a cluster of key games coming up, Les Atkinson’s squad was bolstered by the return of Alex Imlah whilst there was a place on the bench for new recruit Seweryn Syska.

The visitors were keen to avoid any last minute dramas as experienced last time out when an Adam Corbett goal secured a 2-3 victory and they set out their stall immediately from the start.

Jack Smith made a move out on the flank to allow him space to throw in a cross to the feet of a Brandon Archibald only for Watt keeper Redmile to get a shoelace to the ball and deflect for a corner.

It didn’t long for a hungry looking Ainslie Park side to score the opening goal of the game – and what a goal it was too.  Anthony Laing’s rocket from the edge of the box found the ‘postage stamp’ corner of the onion bag, which was fortunate to be securely tied down such was the ferocity of the shot.

Despite dominating the bulk of play in the opening quarter of an hour, the one goal lead was almost cancelled out but for the heroics of the Spartans goalie.  The keeper pulled off a wonder double save, the second effort from point blank range to deny Tom Maher the chance to equalise.

You’ve got to take your chances in football and from almost being all square, Spartans doubled their lead.  Harry Girdwood’s dynamic run and close control saw the promising teenager carve open the Student defence before setting up Brandon Archibald who let fly, with the ball crashing in to the net off the underside of the crossbar to make it 0-2.

If it was the Premiership or La Liga, you bet you’d see these goals over and over again.  Spartans third was no different.  Dylan Tait collected the ball on the edge of the penalty box facing away from goal.  A change of shape courtesy of a quick shimmy-shammy saw him spin like a turntable (ask your folks, it used to play a thing called records!) and curl the ball round the defender and home.

Half Time: Heriot Watt u20s 0-3 Spartans u20s

The second half was a poor relative of its energetic first half cousin.  Gaffer Atkinson was unusually animated in the away technical area as his charges allowed the hosts a greater degree of ball possession than his generosity would have preferred.

Johnny Grotlin was unfortunate not to extend the lead when he out-muscled his marker before spotting the keeper off his line.  The attempted lob just landing the wrong side of the net in what would have been a great piece of individual play.

On the hour mark, Spartans had to rely on their keeper to once again produce the goodies in goal when he denied Lane with what appeared to be his rear end.  It was a key stop at a time where the Students were on the ascendency and starting to ask questions of the Spartans side.

With no additional scoring to note, Spartans held off a spirited Watt comeback attempt to record their fifth win on the bounce and progress to the Semi Final stages where they will play Preston Athletic.

The victory however did come at a cost when Daniel Tomassi was helped from the field in the latter stages after taking a knock to the ankle area.

Full Time: Heriot Watt u20s 0-3 Spartans u20s

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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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