South Challenge Cup | Dish serves up Final spot with late winner

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

Jamie Dishington’s late acrobatic effort saw Spartans defeat Caledonian Braves in a five goal thriller to reach the Final of the South Challenge Cup.

Having celebrated late into the North Edinburgh night on Saturday following their securing of the Lowland League title, there was to be no hangover for Dougie Samuel’s Spartans as they set up a shot at silverware finale against the winners of the outstanding tie between Gartcairn and Drumchapel.

A trip to Alliance Park always offers an air of excitement between the sides and this fixture was to be no different.

The late dipping North Lanarkshire sunshine offered a quick switcheroo following the Captains toss-up and it was an illuminating start for Spartans who went ahead inside the opening minute.

Bradley Whyte stole the ball from the feet of a dilly-dallying Braves defender before unleashing an unstoppable 20 yard drive right into the top bins to his side the most delightful start.

Braves looked to get back into the game and Blair Carswell had to look sharp at his near post when a cheeky in-swinging corner saw him react fast to double fist the ball to safety.

Next up saw Main send a decent effort towards ‘The Cat’ who had to be alert to hold on to the powerful drive.

The hosts were back on level terms in the 25th minute. A corner into the box saw Kieran Watson take a knock to the napper in an aerial clash however despite the Spartans defender remain on the floor after the incident, play raged on and from a cross back into the area, McNeil was on hand to tap home from close range, much to the bemusement of the visiting bench.

The pendulum swung back into Spartans favour seven minutes before the break. Dogged determination from Bradley Whyte saw him recover the ball deep in his own half. His break from defence allowed him to create an opening to thread a long ball to Cammy Russell who progressed into the Braves danger zone.

Russell twisted, he turned, then, from inside the Braves box, melted one right into the opposite bottom corner to finish off a simple, yet deliciously delightful move.

The rest of the half played out without many talking points, save for a decidedly strong shout for a penalty after Cammy Russell appeared to be felled in the box. A corner was all he got for his efforts.

HT: Caledonian Braves 1-2 The Spartans

The opening quarter of the second spell failed to match the first half for entertainment, then in the 66th minute, a long range effort took a deflection past Blair Carswell to square the scoreboard once again.

Sean Brown replaced Blair Henderson midway through the half as Spartans looked to inject a pair of fresh legs up top following a sterling shift by the hitman.

Braves goal scorer McNeil then headed into the Ref’s jotter when after looking to knock the ball past Carswell in the box, took an unconvincing dive, must to the objection of the match official.

There was a spot-kick awarded shortly after however when Rhys Armstrong was manhandled in the box as Cammy Russell’s free-kick floated towards a pack six yard area. No qualms from the Ref and up stepped the man with the armband Kev Waugh. His penalty was low, but the keeper got down and pushed it behind for a corner.

This saw the ball returned into the penalty area, Waugh amongst the bodies fighting for a touch, it broke to Jamie Dishington who, with his back to goal, sent an acrobatic effort into the back of the net.

The final stages were peak squeekybumtime, with a weak shout for a penalty from the hosts and a free-kick that saw the Spartans wall stand its ground.

FT: Caledonian Braves 2-3 The Spartans

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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