FNQ Cup | Blair bags brace as Spartans sink Star at the death

Posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Three goals, two sending-offs, one sensational save inside the final fifteen minutes had fans on the edge of their seats in the stand as Spartans edged out Newtongrange Star 3-2 to progress in the Football Nation Cup at Ainslie Park.

Having notched up a hat-trick at the weekend, Blair Atkinson retained his starting berth whilst Under 2os youngster Issac Mackie was called up to the bench by gaffer Dougie Samuel as Spartans welcomed the East of Scotland title challengers to North Edinburgh for this 3rd Round clash.

With one sleep to go until the commencement of the Advent Calendar feast, the opening twenty minutes couldn’t open any windows of opportunity to treat the goal hungry fans who braved the inclement conditions as the Lowland League outfit set out to avoid a potential banana skin that neighbours Civil Service suffered at the home of Nitten in an alternative competition earlier in the month.

Neither keeper had their gloves tested in the initial quarter of the game, as the mercury dipped and rain swept towards the stand, forcing spectators to retreat to the back for an smidging of shelter.

It was the hosts who finally broke the deadlock and it came ten minutes from the interval.  David Greenhill’s cross seemed to work well in the wind and it held up perfectly for Blair Atkinson to head it into the back of the net from 6 yards out.

There was a collective ‘ooooft’ as Ryan Porteous put his leg on the line, stopping a useful attempt by the hosts to spread play, and the slap of ball against raw thigh in the cold possibly left the manufacturer’s logo as a reminder in the sheds at the break.

HT: Spartans 1-0 Newtongrange Star

It took just three minutes after the oranges for Spartans to double their lead.  A sweeping move saw the ball land into the path of Jamie Dishington and the Man of the Match didn’t need to wait on a written invitation to slam home.

As the half moved on, so did personnel, as three changes in the home dugout were executed, with Stephen MacDonald, Cameron Dawson & Gary Cennerazzo all joining in the action across a ten minute period.

Then it got interesting…

With fifteen minutes left on the metaphorical clock, former Academy Youth starlet George Hunter showed how he had notched up some 21 goals so far this season.  Come three minutes to go, Hunter had potentially set up an extra half hour – or better – when he looked to have defied the defence and slid past Carswell to draw proceedings level.

Almost immediately, the pendulum swung back in favour of the hosts when fine play afforded Atkinson the luxury of controlling the ball, gaining his composure before ramming home high into the roof of the net for what transpired to be the winner.

The goal sparked fury for Nitten’s Bracks who shared pleasantries with the Referee’s Assistant before receiving this marching orders for his comments from the man in the middle.

Just when you thought it was safe to turn over… At the other end, a sea of corners saw Nitten press for another equaliser however a combination of a first class save by Carswell to deny Hunter’s hat-trick, then Alan Brown’s timely shin-pad stop on the post, kept the wolves at bay.

A break up far end saw Spartans attempt to thwart Nitten on the counter and it was a rash last man challenge that earned another man from Mid Lothian a second yellow to join Breck for a share of the showers.

Numerically disadvantaged by goals and guys, it was a long blast of the whistle that curtailed a last gap comeback and saw Spartans make it back to back victories at home.

FT: Spartans 3-2 Newtongrange Star

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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