Harvey pulls rabbit out the hat with spot-kick winner

Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2023

The Spartans set up a South Challenge Cup Quarter Final tie against Stirling University after a nail biting penalty shoot-out victory over Dundonald Bluebell at Moorfield Park.

An early opportunity for Spartans saw Cammy Russell’s free-kick pushed behind for a corner.  That was sent into the box to test the home defence and after a bit of to-and-fro, the ball was finally headed over by Blair Henderson.

Play was stopped for a brief spell as Ian McFarland received treatment after receiving a knock to the face that offered a post-match pair of Panda eyes for his troubles.  Physio Sophie Marr on hand to treat the stricken Spartan who leaked a fair amount of claret from his beak from the hit.

The next time the Ref halted play was when he spotted a ‘foreign object’ on the park.  On review, it was the underside of a boot, studs and all.  The owner, Sam Jones, collected and after a swap of shoes, he was back in action.

Michael Herd’s afternoon lasted ten minutes when he was forced to retire early and was replaced by Gregor Woods who didn’t take long to get stuck in and his backtracking block and clearance was warmly applauded by the travelling faithful.

A long throw in the box from Cammy Russell then found Sean Brown. Contrary to the Twitter typo at the time, Broony chested it down – only for his acrobatic endeavours deemed to be foul play.

The young team in the Moorfield Park’s ‘The Kop’ enclosure were vocal throughout as they cheered on their heroes.  They also had some words of, erm, encouragement for Blair Carswell each time he took a bye-kick, such was the Cardenden camaraderie.

Then just before the half hour mark, Bradley Whyte was on hand to poke the ball home from close range after the home keeper appeared to misjudge Sam Jones’ corner to earn Spartans a deserved lead.

HT: Dundonald Bluebell 0-1 The Spartans

It took only four second half minutes for the hosts to get back on level terms.  A cross into the box found Ross Drummond who leapt highest and headed beyond Blair Carswell.  Cue scenes from the young team!

There was a goalmouth stramash at the other end and when Ian McFarland headed the ball back into the danger zone, Sean Brown was just inches away from connecting.

Spartans regained the lead in the 65th minute and it was another corner with the same ending, this time Sean Brown wheeling away in delight after heading from Cammy Russell’s delivery.

That lead lasted a full eight minutes before Ross Brown capitalised on some generous defending to make it all square once again.

Harvey Swann and Jamie Dishington then entered the fray with Sam Jones and Sean Brown making way.

The home support’s cheers died like flowers in the winter chill when they saw the ball ruffle Blair Carswell’s net.  Thankfully for the visitors it was on the outside and it remained level.

With the Referee intimating that time was the enemy of both sides to avoid extra time, the ball found it’s way into the Dundonald box however Bradley Whyte was unable to find the net and with that, it was on to extra time.

FT: Dundonald Bluebell 2-2 The Spartans

Spartans introduced Jamie Penker for Ian McFarland as the additional thirty minutes go underway.

There was almost a ‘worldy’ winner for the hosts when a half volley from distance raced towards Blair Carswell’s goal, only for it to batter the post and thankfully head to safety.

Former Spartans favourite Gary Cennerazzo was then done for the day after putting in a decent shift up against the visiting attack.

ET HT: Dundonald Bluebell 2-2 The Spartans

A final change from Dougie Samuel saw Alan Brown come on for Mikey Allan.

The second period of extra time was a particularly cagey affair with neither side keen to lose at this stage and perhaps the only opportunity to produce a hero came when Cammy Russell’s corner into the crowded box saw the ball bob about before finally resting in the keeper’s hands. 

ET FT: Dundonald Bluebell 2-2 The Spartans

The lottery of the penalty shoot out saw the home side miss their first penalty putting them immediately on the back foot.  Blair Henderson, by now sporting the captain’s armband, dispatched his effort with aplomb.

A home success was followed by Cammy Russell nudge into the net.  Further trading of scores in the next round of kicks, with Jamie Penker netting for Spartans.

Blair Carswell, a man known for his penalty heroics throughout his Ainslie Park career then dived to his right and left enough leg and strong foot to hoof the ball away to make it advantage Spartans.

It was left to Harvey Swann who calmly stepped up and to the dismay of the band of young Fifers behind the goal, produced the winner.

Penalties: Dundonald Bluebell 2-4 Spartans

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Jordan Tapping

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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