Match Ball for Blair as Spartans sink Shire

Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2018

Making their first home appearance in over two months, Dougie Samuel’s side went into the game knowing nothing less than three points would do in their quest for retaining the GeoSonic Lowland League title.

With striking partners Willie Bremner and Jack Smith both sharing the treatment table for respective lengthy spells, Blair Atkinson joined Stephen MacDonald up top

A dreich afternoon greeted the sides as they made their way out of the sheds at Ainslie Park, with the hosts kicking-off.

It took less than three minutes for Samuel’s men to take the lead, with Academy Graduate Blair Atkinson tapping home from close range at the back post after Barclay initially saved his volley, to give his side a dream start.

Spartans doubled their lead after a quarter of an hour. MacDonald receiving a big whopper of a push in the back inside the box. Up stepped David Greenhill who slammed the ball home from 12 yards.

Atkinson almost bagged himself a brace when he let fly, only to see his shot fall the wrong side of the crossbar.

The visitors halved the deficit when they netted the second spot kick awarded within the opening quarter of the match. Paul McCafferty grabbing his team a life-line midway through the half.

It didn’t take long for parity to be restored and the two goal cushion was reinstated when Greenhill’s free-kick was met by a flying Atkinson who headed beyond Barclay.

A squeekybum time moment saw a speculative Shire lob (shot if it came off, surely?) that landed on top of Carswell’s crossbar before it fell into the path of a waiting defender who hoofed it to safety.

It was a first half hat-trick from Atkinson who was enjoying himself up top with MacDonald and the former nudged home following fine play by the American.

Half Time: Spartans 4 East Stirlingshire 1

With a deficit stretching to three goals, Shire found themselves playing out the final thirty five minutes with ten men following the dismissal of McKee who had first dibs on the showers after picking up his second yellow of the afternoon.

Former Spartan hitman Ross Allum came close to making a scoring return to Ainslie Park after a floating long range pass over the home defence fell into his path however he couldn’t quite find his Inspector Gadget-esque legs and it fell out of his reach.

Adam Corbett decided to go forth after winning the ball in midfield. His dynamic run deep into the Shire half couldn’t find the finish to match, with Barclay grateful for the shot going down his throat. Well, not literally, of course.

There was a shout, more in hope that expectation, from Allum who went down in the box under a challenge from Tolmie. Unsurprisingly, the Ref was decidedly unsympathetic to the claims.

It was however Allum who got his goal, then, almost straight from the restart, a grandstand finale was set as ten-man Shire’s McCafferty let fly from outside the box as the game entered into its final stages.

Substitute Craig Stevenson then received the order of the early bath following a stramash, with Shire’s Ure getting a yellow for his involvement.

Full Time: Spartans 4-3 East Stirlingshire

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Blair Atkinson

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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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