Atkinson Given ideal start as Ndlovu hat-trick sets up opening day win for Under 20s

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2022

Les Atkinson’s Under 20s were in seventh heaven as Given Ndlovu’s hat-trick helped guide Spartans to an opening day League victory in a 0-7 win away to Civil Service Strollers.

With a handful of new recruits in the match day squad and the nucleus of last season’s side remaining in situ, one anticipates competition for places in Atkinson’s starting XI will be tougher than ever as the team head into year two of their three-year cycle.

First up saw a trip across town to Peffermill 3G to take on Civil Service Strollers.  Spartans earned the bragging rights last season winning both games however it was the Muirhouse-based outfit who took the honours in a Eastern League Cup tie penalty shoot-out.

The side took to the pitch looking resplendent in their new eco-kit, sponsored by Mint Box Removals, and Captain Sam Coats looked to get his 18th Birthday off to an early boost with a win.

Despite the Caribbean-esque temperatures during the afternoon, the match begun with the top of the onlooking Arthur’s Seat missing with the sweeping haar.

Just fifteen seconds into the game and the home defence didn’t have the foggiest as to how Given Ndlovu managed to steal the ball in the middle of the park and his pass to Mackie Scott saw the striker closed down just before he could dig out a shot whilst under pressure.

Both sides set out to keep the ball and build from the back.  Unfortunately for Spartans keeper Adam Meek he kept the ball for a touch too long in the Referee’s mind and Civil were awarded a free-kick inside the box.  The wall done it’s bit and the scoreboard remained blank.  But not for long.

Midway through the half and Ben Lamont sprung the offside trap, kept his composure and sent the ball beyond the Civil keeper to get his side off to an ideal start.

It was almost a second for Scottish Schoolboy Internationalist Lamont but it was the crossbar that came to the aid of the home side this time round.

With the game edging towards half-time, Mackie Scott raced into the box before being upended by the keeper who misjudged his sliding challenge sending the striker to the ground.  Given Ndlovu stepped up and sent the goalie the wrong way to make it 0-2.

HT: Civil Service Strollers 0-2 Spartans

The Gaffer appeared pleased with the first half showing and he was to feel even more enthused within a minute after the break.

Louis O’Brien’s speculative long-range effort was spilled by the keeper who couldn’t hold it and Mackie Scott swooped on the ball like a seagull on chips to make it 0-3.

Scott, who scored the winner for the Senior side in the final game of last season’s Lowland League campaign, looked hungry for more and it was no surprise when he scored again just a few minutes later.

A long ball over the top and through the middle found Mackie Scott and a delightful first touch and hooked effort wooshed past the stranded keeper to bulge the onion bag to make it 0-4.

Things were to get worse for the home side as Ben Lamont bagged his brace with a neat first touch finish as Spartans looked rampant.

Spartans made a couple of changes with Max Williamson and Jake Cunningham coming on for Aaron Cameron and Callum MacKay.

It was almost the perfect introduction to the game for Williamson who found himself in space but he could only look on agonisingly as his shot went narrowly wide.

Another pair of swaps came in the 65th minute with Rui Black and Cameron Brincker replacing Ben Lamont and Sam Lovie.  The latter having an impressive starting debut for his new team.

The next change was an enforced one as Louis MacLachlan swapped with Josh Laing who took a wee knock and with the points sewn up, there was no point in risking the defender.

It was almost a sixth for Spartans when Ndlovu’s trickery saw his shoot from inside the box but only for the ball to hit the post and roll across the face of the goal and away to safety.

He didn’t have long to wait however to grab his second of the night though as Given Ndlovu raced onto the ball inside the penalty area to hammer the ball beyond the outstretched goalie to make it six.

Then, the proverbial icing on the Captain Coats birthday cake came with a quarter of an hour on the clock with the goal of the night.  A free-kick from just outside the box on the left hand side saw Given Ndlovu size up an opportunity and the Mint Box Removals Man of the Match didn’t disappoint as he beat the wall and the sprawling keeper to round off the scoring.

FT: Civil Service Strollers 0-7 Spartans  

Next Fixture

Date: Saturday 30th September
Opponent: Bonnyrigg Rose
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: SPFL 2
Kick off: 3.00pm

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