League Cup: Spartans suffer Semi-Final exit at Gretna

Posted on Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Spartans crashed out of the Lowland League Cup Semi Final in controversial circumstances as Keith Murray saw red in a frustrating encounter at Raydale Park.

The opening quarter of an hour saw both sides play largely in line with the playing surface – unpredictable and tired – with neither goalkeeper noted for having touched the ball, save for a the odd pass-back that required focus and a fine first touch to control.

Spartans were looking the most likely to make the breakthrough and this almost came from Hunter who raced after his own through ball behind the Gretna back line.  To his – and the gaffer’s frustration – Murrell adjudged it to be a pass of sorts, only to touch the ball whilst being in an offside position.

The crowds were woken up from the slumber when Murray and Smith exchanged pleasantries on the stand-side boundary wall, earning both sides a caution where perhaps a handbag apiece would have been a more sensible outcome.

Grenta were then forced into an unwelcome change when goalkeeper Murray collapsed to the deck clutching his hamstring after despatching a bye-kick.  After a skoosh of water and some attention from the physio, he returned to his feet but seconds later he was forced to be replaced by player/coach – and former centre half – White.

HT: Gretna 2008 0-0 Spartans

A mixture of woodwork and a plethora of legs denied Murrell from edging Spartans ahead ten minutes after the interval.  Hunter delivering a cross than was headed back towards Murrell who saw his shot come back off the bar and land back inside the field of play before being unceremoniously hoofed away.

Midway through the half and it was the visitors who scored what transpired to be the only goal of the game.  Smith breaking the offside trap and despite the best efforts of Carswell who came to close down the Gretna man, the rebound from the save fell into the path of C Graham who tapped home from close range.

The outcome of the game took a further twist in the 75th minute when the Referee issued a red card to Murray after the striker looked to manoeuvre himself away from his marker to race on for a delivery up the line.  Whatever the man in the middle saw was enough to see the Spartans man head to the sheds in some disbelief for an early shower.

Stand-in keeper White pulled off a save at his near post to denied Hunter as Spartans looked to force extra time at least.

Deep into injury time, there were loud claims for a penalty when a Gretna defender in the densely populated home box appear to use a hand to clear the ball as one final aerial assault was played out.  Sadly it wasn’t to be and Gretna held on for the narrowest of victories.

FT: Gretna 2008 1-0 Spartans

Gretna: Murray (White), Wood, Wadge, Casey, Inglis, Addison, Smith, Crozier, Liddell (Anderson 80), C Graham, Norman.  Sub (Unused)

Spartans: Carswell, O’Donnell, Dickson, Stevenson, Thomson, Greenhill, Gray, Mair, Murrell, Murray, Hunter.  Subs (Unused) Beesley, Gilpin, Gair

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Paul Thomson

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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