Spartans clipped at the death by Klopp’s Kop Kids

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

A bumper crowd of 1,975 saw Lowland League outfit Spartans take on a talented squad of Liverpool u23s at a sun-drenched Ainslie Park on Monday evening.

17 year old Jack Bearne was to be the hero for the visitors after snatching a late winner to lift the Ronnie Swan trophy in a narrow 1-0 win over Dougie Samuel’s side.

The strong Spartan Army following had the first opportunity to see summer signing Michael ‘Bolo’ Bolochoweckyj in club colours following his move from Montrose whilst Liverpool had a Scot wearing the captain’s armband in the shape of George Johnston, a Scottish Youth Internationalist.

The best opportunity in the opening half hour fell to Isacc Christie-Davies however he was to be denied by a decidedly strong arm of defence in the shape of stalwart stopper Blair Carswell.

At the other end, Aaron Scott’s well weighted free-kick from out wide was deflected behind a lively Liverpool defender, with Spartans skipper Adam Corbett a shoelace away from poking the ball home.

With some consummate ease, the Anfield youths knocked the ball around inside their own half, building from the back however a resolute home defence held firm against a side that finished 4th in last season’s Premier League 2.

Indeed, it was Spartans who ended the opening forty five on the front foot which brought about a series of set piece opportunities. The best opportunity to pose a threat coming after 38 minutes when centre back Bolochoweckyj got on the end of a Corbett free-kick, only to see his prodded attempt saved by Ben Winterbottom.

HT: Spartans 0-0 Liverpool u23s

Changes were aplenty after the oranges in the sheds, including a change between the sticks. Sub stopper Shamal George making almost as many saves inside the opening five minutes than Winterbottom during the full first half. He was called into action to make a brace of decent saves early in the period, denying pacey Blair Atkinson who was causing some trouble down the left flank.

On the hour mark, sixteen year old Nicky Reid headed over after Dean Hoskins sent in a cracking cross in from the left as Spartans continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock.

Reid once again was in the thick of the action when he raced in on a through ball that split the Liverpool defence only for George to dash from his line to get down and smother the ball on the edge of the box.

With the Ronnie Swan Trophy heading towards a penalty shoot-out to decide who’s name would grace the silverware, Liverpool secured what turned out to be winner with just eight minutes left on the clock.

Faced with an unorthodox styled aerial pass back, Carswell was unable to gain control to hoof to safety and when the ball broke loose, teenager Bearne was on hand to send high into the empty net from the edge of the box.

FT: Spartans 0-1 Liverpool u23s

Post-match, Liverpool u23s manager Neil Critchley told the Liverpool FC website: “We’re fortunate we get invitations like this and we’re honoured to have played a part in these 10th anniversary celebrations. The way we’ve been looked after and received is fantastic.”

Meanwhile, talking to the Edinburgh Evening News, Spartans manager Dougie Samuel said: “I thought we acquitted ourselves well. In the first ten minutes when they were zipping it about and the righ- back was getting high, I was thinking it was going to be a long night, but once we settled, I think the players backed themselves.

Spartans: Carswell, Brown, Hoskins, Tolmie (Allan), Bolochoweckyj (Hand), Corbett, Scott, McFarland (Grant), Murrell (Reid), Maxwell (Dawson), Atkinson (Baxter).

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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