Lowland League | First half goal frenzy sees Spartans defeat Uni

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Four first half goals including a sensational free-kick by Man of the Match Cammy Russell saw Spartans defeat fellow Lowland League title challengers Stirling University in front of a crowd of 375 at Ainslie Park on Tuesday night.

After an idle weekend, it was back to the action for Dougie Samuel’s Spartans however the Gaffer was without defender Kevin Waugh for this eagerly anticipated encounter.

The Students had won the previous clash between the sides earlier in the campaign and the squad knew they’d have to bring their ‘A Game’ to the party if they were to even the honours.

Within ninety seconds of the kick-off, Jamie Dishington’s cross into the box caused danger but it just couldn’t find the right connection from Blair Henderson’s head to trouble Ben Fry.

There then followed a manic two minute window that saw the hosts strike twice.  First up saw an effort turned behind for a corner which was whipped in deep to the back post for Mikey Allan to rise and power his headed home.  The Defender is having a fair season on the scoresheet and his nogging now puts him in the club’s Top 25 scorers in the League.

If that got the fans cheering, Cammy Russell’s free-kick from some 30 yards may well have caused injury from collective jaw dropping in the stand.  It’s not the first time the Spartan Army have been wowed by the dead ball specialist and up he stepped to unleash an sensational effort that Fry could only assist in lodging it into the back of the net.

It was a frantic opening ten minutes and the game then simmered down into a mild frenzy, save for Cammy Russell’s booking, likely out of frustration for not being awarded a free-kick of his own moments earlier.

Russell was controlling the game and his blistering drive warmed Fry’s hands causing him to spill but the keeper just managed to recover in time as Blair Henderson looked to pounce.

Stirling, on a rare excursion into the home penalty box, almost halved the deficit only for a net bound strike to be legally blocked on the line and unceremoniously hoofed to safety.

Ben Fry was certainly the busier of the two keepers and it was his own defender who had him galloping out to the touchline with a stray back-pass however in trying to control with his first touch, the second was to bring down Cammy Russell and a yellow card was shown.

Then, with five minutes left on the clock, Spartans further extended their lead.  A defensive faux pas by the tourists allowed Bradley Whyte to nip in and after he rounded Fry, who was mindful of his recent transgression, he deposited the ball into the empty onion bag to make it three.

The home support had more than their Bain’s Mince Pies to chew over at half time as it was before their side added a fourth before the break.

Tremendous build up play by chief tormentor Cammy Russell saw his selflessly square the ball to Blair Henderson who seldom requires a written invitation to do his thing and turn it into the gaping goal.

HT: The Spartans 4-0 Stirling University

Stirling came out from the sheds looking for an avenue back into the game and enjoyed a decent percentage of the opening stages after the break however they found the home defence in defiant form.

If the first half was the Big Daddy, any hope of a Giant Haystacks comeback off the ropes from the Stirling side were dashed just before the hour mark when Burrows scythed down Bradley Whyte on the edge of the box as he raced towards Fry’s penalty area.  His namesake with the whistle, Colin, was left with little option than to offer the Uni player first dibs on the shower gel.

Spartans made the first of a series of changes shortly after when Harvey Swann replaced Bradley Whyte.

The tempo and temperature both dipped in the second half with Spartans in control and the Students down to 10 men.  

A triple Spartans change with a quarter of an hour to go saw Alan Brown, Sean Brown and Gregor Woods swapped places with Ian McFarland, Cammy Russell and Blair Henderson all enjoyed well-earned rests.

The ball was being stroked around with consummate ease by the Spartans side with the depleted opponents looking to pick off any scraps offered, which were in limited supply.

One final swap from the dugouts gave Jamie Penker minutes against his former side.

Applause rung out within the stand with the news of Cammy Russell picking up his seventh Malt and Hops Man of the Match award of the season.

FT: The Spartans 4-0 Stirling University

Next Fixture

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

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