South Challenge Cup: Russell at the double to seal silverware

Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2023

A man of the match brace-bagging performance by Cammy Russell guided Spartans to a record breaking fourth South Challenge Cup title in a 2-1 victory over Drumchapel United at Broadwood Stadium.

After a season that spanned 11 months and 3 days since their first pre-season friendly, the curtain came down on the biggest year in the club’s 72 year history, adding the trophy to the league title and promotion to SPFL 2.

The sides came out to a warm welcome in the sunshine with both sets of fans in full voice along with drums added noise to proceedings.

It was an edgy start to the Final with both sides stroking the ball around however that lack of penetration up front meant the Goalies were mere bystanders.

Drumchapel almost forged open the first real opportunity however it was a timely block by Ian McFarland that saw the shot deflected behind for a corner.

At the other end, Rhys Armstrong saw his cross / shot saved with Cammy Russell lurking who saw his effort turned away by the legs of a defender.

Then, for the second week in a row, Spartans scored in the 16th minute. Cammy Russell cutting inside before unleashing an unstoppable drive that flew into the bottom corner.

Russell almost doubled the lead moments later when he saw his shot hit the post as Spartans looked to extend their advantage.

It was becoming a bit of a Cammy Russell show in the first half, this time turning provider by whipping a teasing cross along the six yard box and it was a shoelace away from being turned home by Bradley Whyte.

The paint of the post was almost attached the ball as it flew past as that man Russell broke the offside trap however it was just the wrong side of the upright as Spartans looked to turn possession into further goals.

That did come with just three minutes left on the clock before the interval.

Rhys Armstrong saw his shot rattle off the crossbar however the alert Cammy Russell was on hand to leap above a trio of Drumchapel defenders to send a flying header into the empty net.

HT: The Spartans 2-0 Drumchapel United

Whatever was said in the visitor’s sheds at the interval appeared to have an impact as the West of Scotland side came out full guns as they looked to get back into the tie.

A thumping drive from 25 yards saw Blair Carswell in fine form, with the Cat showing fine flexibility to turn the ball over the bar.

There were muted celebrations with the Ultras North element of the Spartan Army support as their inaugural Player of the Year winner Jordan Tapping’s shot from inside the box ruffled the net, only for it to be on the outside.

Spartans made their first swaps of the afternoon and it was an emotional one as skipper Ian McFarland left the field for the last time and was replaced by Gavin Morrison. Blair Henderson then swapped spots with Sean Brown.

As the temperature continued to rise, the tempo of the game dropped to a proper end of season encounter between two sets of players sooking every ounce of energy out their weary bodies for the closing stages.

Gregor Woods was then brought on at the expense of Rhys Armstrong.

With three minutes left, Drumchapel offered some serious squeekybumtime vibes when, after the ball was won in the middle of the park, it found its way into the box and despite remonstrations over the validity of its journey there, it was royally despatched beyond Blair Carswell.

Spartans soaked up the pressure in the sunshine and with that, Drumchapel couldn’t find another at the death, with the Ainslie Park side holding on to deliver the trophy for the first time to Manager Dougie Samuel.

FT: The Spartans 2-1 Drumchapel United

Malt & Hops Man of the Match: Cammy Russell

Next Fixture

Date: Saturday 27th April
Opponent: Peterhead
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: SPFL 2
Kick off: 3.00pm

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