Lowland League | Spartans rue reds in disappointing defeat

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2020

Whilst Meatloaf may well have been seen it as something to sing about, the mood music coming out of Ainslie Park last Saturday saw two out of three being a missed opportunity to finish the opening week of the Lowland League campaign with full points.

Instead, a tale of two penalties and a brace of red cards were the main talking points in an eventful ninety minutes, live streamed to stay at home supporters currently ‘banned’ from the stands under Scottish Government guidelines.

There was a debut for new signing Keir Russell whilst Blair Carswell returned between the sticks and his namesake Atkinson was back up front alongside Cameron Dawson who made the starting XI following back to back match winning displays.

Early exchanges saw Spartans perhaps just shade it in terms of possession however the route to goal was limited by the Student’s defence.

For the first time in the campaign, Spartans found themselves playing catch up football when the visitors took the lead in the 14th minute.  Blair Atkinson looked to have been fouled on the stand-side touchline in the early build up play but the ball found its way to the touchline before being whipped into the box for Penker to poke home at the back post for the opener.

Gregor Woods, seeking that elusive opening strike in Spartans colours, forced the Stirling keeper to sprawl and push the ball to safety following a tasty 25 yarder.

Mikey Allan then picked up a caution in the middle of the park for what looked like a robust sliding challenge, only for the Referee to whip out a ticket, which was later to prove costly for the defender.

It was all square on the half hour mark when Blair Atkinson chased down a back pass which the keeper Fry couldn’t dribble and kick to safety and the Spartans man was taken down in the box and the spot kick awarded. Atkinson stepped up and rammed it high into the net.

Scott McCrory-Irving came back in off the touchline to let fly from 30 yards as Spartans looked to take the lead.

One final opportunity before the oranges came when Cameron Dawson was put through but Fry came off his line to do just about enough to put the striker into three minds and his shot went agonisingly wide.

HT: Spartans 1-1 University of Stirling

Livewire Atkinson was causing havoc for the Stirling defenders who were looking to play out from the back shortly after the interval, with his dogged determination setting up an effort that could only find the side netting.

As the hour mark approached, the first main talking point of the match saw Adam Corbett show his marching orders as Stirling were awarded a penalty of their own.  A hoofed ball from the middle of the park landed in the box, saw Corbett and Penker tangle and Penker to hit the deck. 

It was deemed enough to not only merit a spot kick but a straight red too.  Doan stepped up and despite Carswell guessing the correct direction, he couldn’t stretch his frame quite enough to stop it from hitting the back of the net.

Spartans made a trio of replacements in the 62nd minute, when Meekison, Bolochoweckyi and Maxwell came on for Baur, Dawson and McCrory-Irving.

A corner midway through the half found Atkinson lurking at the back of the box and his first time effort was cleared off the line as 10 man Spartans pressed forward to salvage at least a point from the game.

With the game entering its final ten minutes, Joe Tait came off the bench at the expense of Russell and the under 20s starlet almost made an immediate impact when he got onto the end of a Maxwell backheel and his shot hit the feet of Fry and the ball, luckily for the keeper, went behind for a corner.

As Spartans threw the kitchen sink and then some into the bowels of injury time, another unceremoniously hoofed clearance up the park found Bolo but his attempted pass / clearance put Allan under pressure.  The incoming Baird came across the front defender and the Uni man went to deck with minimal contact on the edge of the box, enough, it seemed, for a second straight red of the afternoon.

The resultant free-kick was well saved by Carswell but he couldn’t hold on and with the numerical advantage, Kennedy was left unmarked and he slotted home.

Full Time: Spartans 1-3 University of Stirling

You can watch the full match via our You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leiMK-lzw7E Highlights are also available!

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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