FNQ Cup: Spartans head for Semi Finals after Belter Helter Skelter win

Posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2019

A brace by Jack Smith and a late winner from Stephen MacDonald saw Spartans edge out Tranent Juniors 3-2 at a bitterly cold Ainslie Park to progress into the Football Nation Qualifying Cup Semi Final.

Spartans welcomed Max Christie’s Belters to the Academy as Spartans took on East of Scotland opposition for a second successive round in a bid to reclaim the trophy won in the 2016/17 season.

Despite the thermometer dipping towards the minimum of mercury, 191 souls braved the elements to watch a five goal thriller that saw the lead change hands three times in a pulsating ninety minutes.

A berth in the semi finals was at stake and with just eight minutes on the clock, the home side were a goal to the good.  A dynamic through ball by Jamie Dishington, playing in his 150th game in the Seniors at just 22 years of age, found Jack Smith who beat his man to drive home from inside the box.

That lead lasted just five minutes as the visitors drew level.    Smith almost restored parity with a carbon copy effort however the foot of Sinclair Inglis between the Tranent sticks denied the Spartans striker.

On the half hour mark, it was the East Lothian side who were to take control of the match with Jamie Devlin capitalising on a undercooked pass back to Blair Carswell to round the keeper and slot into the empty net.

HT: Spartans 1-2 Tranent Juniors

The second half started akin to the opening stanza with Jack Smith looking lively upfront.  He managed to squeeze himself between two defenders but his lobbed effort cleared both keeper and crossbar.

Shortly after, Spartans made their first swap of the night.  Stephen MacDonald coming on for David Greenhill.

With just fifteen minutes to go, Jack Smith pulled a masterstrike out of the bag after fantastic dogged determination by Adam Corbett to wrestle the ball out on the touchline that offered the opportunity to pass into the path of Smith who sent an unstoppable shot across and beyond Inglis into the net.

Despite the Under 20s also in action elsewhere, teenager Murray Hand came off the bench with 12 minutes to go and replaced fellow Academy Graduate Blair Atkinson.

It was the most recent replacement who set up sub MacDonald for the winner with extra time looming.  Hand drove down the stand-side touchline before crossing into the vicinity of the penalty spot for the American striker who composed himself before hooking his shot low into the bottom corner and thus, sending his side into the Semi Final.

FT: Spartans 3-2 Tranent Juniors

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Aaron Scott

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Next Fixture

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Date: Friday 22nd February
Opponent: Gala Fairydean Rovers
Venue: Ainslie Park
Competition: GeoSonic Lowland League
Kick off: 7.45pm

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