SPFL 2: Spartans win Rose arm-wrestle

Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2024

The Spartans ended a busy February with a well earned 2-1 victory over Bonnyrigg Rose at Ainslie Park in yet another monumental arm-wrestle between the two teams.

After a late smash and grab victory seven days previously at Stranraer, Spartans went into the clash against a Rose side who had endured a midweek trip to Peterhead, picking up a point in the process.

There was no place in the home squad for new signing Marc McNulty just yet due to pending International clearance however new coach Ian Thomson joined his colleagues in the technical area for the first time.

The sounds of the drums from the Ultras of both sides welcomed the teams out onto the field in a fixture where a win had eluded Douglas Samuel’s men thus far.

With Kevin Waugh withdrawing in the warm-up, Keiran Watson slipped into the defensive breach and Blair Henderson slipping on the Captain’s armband for the occasion.

The game started in frantic fashion with the hosts camping inside the Rose final third for the early stages.  Jordan Tapping’s header an early opportunity, only for it to come off a defender to go behind for a corner.

Callum Booth looked to be enjoying his role down the flank, taking control of the situation and offering first class distribution with almost every stroke of the ball.

His cross into the box saw Danny Denholm feed Rhys Armstrong but the midfield playmaker could only fire over.

Then, after 21 minutes, the opener finally arrived.  Callum Booth’s long launch up the park found Blair Henderson who fought off his man, took a trio of touches before sending an unstoppable low drive into the bottom corner beyond Paddy Martin.

It allowed the new scoreboard to make it goal announcing debut and it was a magnificent milestone moment for Henderson having just sunk his 100th throughout his SPFL league career.

It didn’t take long before that lead was doubled.  Rhys Armstrong sending in a delightfully weighted corner kick picking out the head of Ayrton Sonkur to net his third goal in two games. 

Next up to try his luck was Booth.  His first effort resigned to the editor’s cutting room for the highlights package however in a later attempt, his rasping strike just missing the target.

An unfortunate moment next as Cammy Russell ‘took one for the team’ as he raced to chase down a clearance and it was left up to him – and him alone – to decide whether to rub ‘em or count ‘em as the Referee halted play to check on his wellbeing.

Bonnyrigg had their moments, as one would expect, as they sought to halve the deficit before heading to the sheds.  The first decent effort came when Angus Mailer almost posted his side’s response but for Blair Carswell to stamp his authority and save well.

A free-kick next up came following a challenge by Ayrton Sonkur which earned him a caution.  The attempt front the resultant dead-ball set-piece cleared the bar, but there was a second attempt to follow after a caution was distributed for encroachment.  Thankfully this time the wall was effective in doing its job and there was to be no changes to the score as the sides trotted into the tunnel.

HT: The Spartans 2-0 Bonnyrigg Rose

A sterling sweeping move from defence saw Blair Henderson show some trickery on the touchline.  Bradley Whyte took over and threaded the ball wide to Cammy Russell who spotted Henderson making a dart to the back post and but for a timely tackle by Neil Martyniuk, it would have certainly made a bid to be a club goal of the season contender.

Then a moment of drama at the other end.  Firstly, an aerial challenge in front of the visiting technical area saw Jordan Tapping and Declan Byrne so up for the ‘high baw’ however Referee Curran penalising the Spartans man.

The resultant free-kick went deep into the box and for the second time in quick succession, Tapping was once again pinged, this time for an alleged tug on Kerr Young.  The reaction of all 17 players inside the area to the whistle was one of confusion before the tourists realising it was for a spot kick!

Up stepped Neil Martyniuk who had enough power to find the bottom corner despite the valiant endeavours of Blair Carswell who guessed correctly on the direction of travel.

James Craigen was unlucky later on with a tempting free-kick that saw Paddy Martin pull off a fine flying save to deny Spartans regaining their two goal advantage.

Tapping had been in the wars throughout and midway through the half he was replaced by Paul Watson after receiving treatment in front of the less than sympathetic travelling support.

Jonny Stewart must have thought he’d equalised after winning a midfield challenge, going on a run and having a pop destined for the top corner only for Blair Carswell to stretch every millimetre of his arm up to scoop the ball away from the postage stamp.

Meanwhile it was Paddy Martin once again who denied the Spartans with another fine stop to deny Rhys Armstrong as the game entered its latter stages.

A change in the home defence saw Josh Laing replace James Craigen as the game looked to slide into the lottery of added time.

Thankfully, there were to be no visiting team heroics this week in the five minutes added time and with that, Spartans clung on to victory.

FT: The Spartans 2-1 Bonnyrigg Rose

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Blair Henderson


Next Fixture

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

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