Under 20s: Spartans prevail at Peffermill in sensational second half

Posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Spartans pulled off the perfect comeback in a sensational second half of Under 20s League football to beat Edinburgh Uni 2-4 at Peffermill on Friday night.

Perhaps with one eye on Bank Holiday Monday’s defence of a narrow lead in their Challenge Cup Semi Final, Manager Les Atkinson rung the changes with youngsters Michael Allen and Lewis Hall added to the squad plus a return to the starting line-up for Jordan Brown.

The snow covered Pentland Hills offered the perfect backdrop for this Spring encounter as Spartans looked to extend their unbeaten run of six games.

It was almost advantage to the Ainslie Park side after ten minutes on the clock when a defence splitting pass by Dylan Tait found Johnny Grotlin in space inside the Uni box however the low setting sun appeared to dazzle the striker and his shot was saved by Callum Davison between the Students sticks.

At the other end, the Spartans keeper pulled off a save that would have looked great for the cameras, pushing Daniel Pacitti’s long range effort behind for a corner.

Both sides found the hard pitch challenging to bring the ball under control, with the bumpy surface akin to a teenager’s acne covered face.

Calum O’Neil’s bursting run saw the defender beat the underfoot conditions and his marker before releasing Johnny Grotlin who couldn’t turn his tight angled shot to his advantage and the ball raced across the front of the six yard box and away to safety.

Half Time: Edinburgh University u20s 0-0 Spartans u20s

The opening quarter of the second period saw Davison deny Anthony Laing as Spartans tried where they left off before the interval to break down the stubborn Uni defence.

Somewhat against the run of play, it was the hosts who took the lead.  Pacitti finding himself with the freedom of the Spartans penalty area, offering the forward enough time to pick his spot, before drilling low past the keeper.

Moments later, Atkinson made a double substitution, with Harry Girdwood and Lewis Hall replaced Laing and Shaun Miller.

It was almost an immediate impact from Hall who sent Allen’s cross over the bar as Spartans looked to levelled procedures with haste.

They didn’t have to wait too long.  A cross-field pass from Jack Smith found Allen who delivered a carbon copy ball into the path of Johnny Grotlin who rammed his volley into the Student’s net to square things up.

A frantic ten minute spell ended when the Students wrestled the lead back courtesy of Tristan Cummings who benefitted from some ‘fluid defending’ from the visitors.

Atkinson made a final substitution, this time bringing Andrew Mair on for Brown.  Just six minutes later, it was a 20 yard free-kick from the replacement that once again put Spartans back on an even keel.

Then, the pendulum finally swung into the favour of Spartans when a delightfully placed in-swinging corner from Grotlin found the head of Girdwood who bulleted home to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.

It was a lead that his side wasn’t to surrender again and it was the same player who put further light between the teams with two minutes to go, this time it was a low drilled shot following penetrating play by O’Neil that ensured the unbeaten run continued and gave Spartans an ideal boost ahead of their trip to take on Cumbernauld on Monday evening.

FT: Edinburgh University u20s 2-4 Spartans

Next Fixture

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

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