Under 20s: Spartans edge out Whitehill in extra time humdinger

Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Spartans under 20s booked a league cup semi final clash against Cumbernauld Colts after a five goal thriller extra time win over Whitehill Welfare at Ainslie Park.

Availability offered Gaffer Les Atkinson selection challenges and it was a changed side from Friday’s victory in Mid Annandale.

The early days of Storm Caroline appeared to visit Ainslie Park as a hoolie blew around the Pilton San Siro, offering neither side any advantage as it swirled around the stadium.

An early burst up the line by Gabriel Hill showed Spartans’ intent and his whipped in cross saw the Welfare keeper equal to the task as be dived to deny the lurking Cameron Dawson from breaking the deadlock.

Dawson then robbed a dithering defender in midfield before pursuing the lead in earnest, only for the goalie to thwart him at the second time of asking.

That deadlock was broken on the half hour mark when a fabulous piece of individual skill by Calum O’Neil saw him skip past his man, drive into the box and shoots through the keeper into the net.

Spartans were forced into a change as Douglas Crowe failed to recover from a knock sustained in a 50/50 that also saw his opposite man withdrawn, and he’s replaced by Lewis Grant.

The lengthy break in play seemed to benefit the visitors more as the Spartans momentum diluted and within moments of the restart, the scores were level, offering Atkinson a different complexion to his half time team talk.

HT: Spartans 1-1 Whitehill Welfare

Both bag men were busy in what was a tough tackling true grit battle between two old adversaries as the Ainslie Park Astro represented a scene from the Alamo with bodies strewn across the park in the name of combat.

With the game entering into the final quarter of an hour, Mikey Allan could only look on in anguish as he watched his shot cannon off the base of the post as Spartans searched for a winner.

Then, two minutes into injury time, Gabriel Hill skipped his way into the visitor’s box to drill home what looked like a last gasp victorious goal.

Welfare hadn’t read the script and in the fifth minute of added time, the ball somehow found its way into the home danger area and with a Welfare man thinking his Christmas had come early, he unwrapped a gift to send the game into extra time.

FT: Spartans 2-2 Whitehill Welfare

The pendulum of momentum may have swung the way of the Rosewell at the end of both halves but it was Spartans who were to have the final say in a see-saw topsy turvy tussle.

Six minutes into the opening period of the extra half hour, Danny Sutherland made significant ground before the ball fell into the path of Cameron Dawson. The striker didn’t get the cleanest of strikes however that probably helped outfox Jardine to give Spartans the lead for the third time in the game.

As the hosts looked to put further light between the sides, a fine save by Jardine drew warm applause as he pushed Dawson’s effort round the post and keep his side in the tie.

With time running out, intelligent play by the home attack force saw the ball reach corners of the park previously not entered throughout the rest of the tie. The frustrations within the visiting camp were clear when the No.8 was shown a second yellow for dissent and off he popped for an early shower.

As the cool night area stopped becoming fresh for the fans and freezing on the fingers, finally the Referee put whistle to mouth one final time to bring a cracking quarter final to a close.

ET FT: Spartans 3-2 Whitehill Welfare

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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