Johnston is spot on as penalty secures win over Shire

Posted on Saturday, September 24th, 2016

A last minute Craig Johnston penalty was enough to separate the sides in a dramatic finale to a tense Lowland League affair against East Stirlingshire at Ainslie Park.

The on-loan striker slotted home the winner after being clattered in the box to send Dougie Samuel’s side above Cumbernauld Colts into second place in a congested top end of the table.

Samuel’s squad saw changes from their Football Nation Cup win against Coldstream last weekend in a bid to thwart an East Stirlingshire side who pulled off a fine midweek win against Stirling Uni under the watchful eye of the Spartans gaffer.

As the fierce wind continued to pick up in the North Edinburgh ground, the opening exchanges saw the sides embark upon a chess-like mission of outfoxing their opponents, but neither were able to offer that ‘checkmate’ killer blow in front of goal.

Neither goalkeeper looked terribly troubled during forty five minutes that could be framed as ‘one for the purists’ with the pick of the chances coming from Andy Rodgers who saw his long range effort deflected onto, then over, Blair Carswell’s goal.  Craig Comrie came closest for the home side, with a strike that landed on top, rather than under, the roof of the net.

HT: Spartans 0-0 East Stirlingshire

The second half got off to a slightly more optimistic pace with a jumping Jamie Barclay just about getting enough glove onto Craig Johnston’s lob attempt to keep the scores level ten minutes after the restart.

Barclay was then called into action once more, this time to thwart Jamie Dishington who carved out an opportunity with a quick turn and shot however the keeper was equal to the task.

Scott Maxwell then tried his luck from outside the box and his rasper narrowly cleared the crossbar in a game where a draw would have suited neither side.

As time pressed on, Spartans made a trio of substitutions over a ten minute period, Jack Beesley, Broque Watson and Igor Gabiola all entered the fray at the expense of Greenhill, Maxwell and Comrie.

With four minutes left on the clock, Watson used his pace to reach the bye-line to pass to Johnston who could only watch in agony as the ball went the wrong side of the post by the narrowest of margins.

Then, with the game heading into injury time, Referee MacLean was left with little option than to point to the spot after Johnston was bundled to the ground by Connor Greene during an aerial challenge inside the box.  The Fifer dusted himself down to step up and calmly send Barclay the wrong way to the delight of the home support.

FT: Spartans 1-0 East Stirlingshire

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Chris Townsley

Spartans: Carswell, Tolmie, Maxwell (Watson 75), Thomson, Herd, Greenhill (Beesley 65), Dishington, Johnston, Townsley, Comrie (Gabiola 83), Stevenson.  Subs (Unused) Murray, Mair, Ward, Gilpin)

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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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