Scottish Cup: Spartans are michty against the lofty Red Lichties

Posted on Monday, November 27th, 2023

The Spartans were handed a plum 4th round Edinburgh Derby home tie against Heart of Midlothian after disposing of Championship side Arbroath at Ainslie Park.

Nearly 650 supporters braved the fresh elements in North Edinburgh as Douglas Samuel’s men took on an Arbroath side who came into the tie as favourites in their lofty position of two leagues higher up the SPFL food chain.

It was the home side’s 73rd adventure in the coveted competition and a fourth tie between the clubs having met twice in 1996/97 and again in 2003/04, arguably a victory that was the catalyst behind springboarding Spartans onto bigger and better things.

The Spartans Ultras were in full voice and Sparry the Spartan was possibly the most insulated against the chill as the teams made their way out of the sheds.

Spartans attacked the café end as is customary, with Cammy Russell the first to go on a run at the Arbroath defence who had leaked 15 goals in their previous four outings.  His off-balance effort was enough to win a corner which, with Mikey Allan poised at the back post, Scott Stewart just found enough lift in the legs to nod the ball outwith his reach.

Russell was once again the tormentor taking the ball for a run across the penalty area and it took an alert Derek Gaston to get down low to smother at the feet of Bradley Whyte.

The visitors were dealt a blow when Ryan Dow went off injured after only 19 minutes after he failed to recover from what looked like an innocuous collision with Kevin Waugh.

Then, with the bulk of the play concentrated within the Arbroath half, Spartans took the lead.  Kieran Watson winning a crunching 50/50 on the halfway line before passing to Russell.  The Man of the Match then sent Rhys Armstrong out wide where he whipped in a telling cross for an alert James Craigen who darted to the front post to send a cheeky wee flick beyond Gaston into the net, much to the delight of the merry band of Ultras who greeted the scorer as he wheeled away to celebrate.

Jamie Dishington was unlucky not to double the lead when he controlled the ball well and sent a powerful low drive towards the goal, only for it to flash wide.

With the game edging towards half time, Thomas O’Brien was perhaps fortunate to only see yellow for a challenge on Cammy Russell that was decidedly late and reckless.  Perhaps not how it was viewed – and argued vociferously – by the Arbroath bench were the incident happened directly in front of!

Half Time: The Spartans 1-0 Arbroath

Did Dick Campbell have the hairdryer out in the away changing room at the interval?  If so, it certainly worked – well, for 53 seconds at least – as the Red Lichties dominated the opening four minutes and levelled proceedings in the 49th minute.  Michael McKenna crossed into the box for David Gold to send a diving header beyond Blair Carswell.

Spartans looked to respond immediately and the pendulum swung back in the Ainslie Park side’s favour from the restart.  A long throw by Russell was nodded down in the box by Jordan Tapping into the path of Jamie Dishington who thrashed the ball through a sea of legs and bulged the net.  Cue scenes!

Dishington was almost on the score sheet for a second time when a sublime cross-field pass by Bradley Whyte split open the Arbroath defence found him in space, only for Gaston to be in fine form and he pulled off a terrific save.  An off balance Dishington looked to convert the rebound but he could only send it wide.

There were loud appeals for a Spartans spot kick when Rhys Armstrong’s cross would have found Mikey Allan, but for the two handed push inside the box that sent him tumbling to the ground.  No VAR on offer at Ainslie Park and no penalty on offer.

The ball was in the Arbroath net once again, this time by Cammy Russell, but he looked on incredulously as he was deemed offside as he slid the ball into the bottom corner.

At the other end, the visiting bench were incandescent with rage as they encroached the field of play in protest at a non-award of a penalty of their own as Mark Stowe fell to the ground under a challenge from Mikey Allan.

Spartans made a change at the back with Ayrton Sonkur replacing the industrious Kieran Watson who had worked tirelessly in defence all afternoon.

The Championship side threw the kitchen sink into their Scottish Cup survival however it was the home side who defended resolutely. 

Sam Jones brought fresh legs to the party by replacing Rhys Armstrong who the opposition would have been delighted to see the back off, such was his workrate in the middle of the field.

As the sands of time trickled down, Spartans went on one final counter attack as the ball broke to Jamie Dishington.  He went for a run up the touchline before being melted.  A free-kick.  A bit of keep-ball in the corner by Cammy Russell.  The final whistle.  And they were dancing in the streets of Pilton on Saturday night.

Full Time: The Spartans 2-1 Arbroath

Carswell, Watson, Tapping, Waugh, Allan, Dishington, Watson (Sonkur 76), Craigen, Whyte, Armstrong (Jones 83), Russell.  Bench (unused) Morrison, Henderson, Heraghty, Denholm, A Brown, Mwangi, Newman.

Next Fixture

Date: Saturday 20th April
Opponent: Bonnyrigg Rose
Venue:New Dundas Park
Competition: SPFL 2
Kick off: 3.00pm

cinch J-Teq EMS Solutions Ltd Spentwell JB Contracts (Scotland) Ltd
Mintbox Removals Johnstone Carmichael Consider IT Shepherd Chartered Surveyors
Sonsie Face Westwoods Health Club Mr Eion Coffee Hart Lifts
Soho IT CHAS Jim Martin