Gala pay the penalty as Spartans go top

Posted on Saturday, October 12th, 2013

A penalty by John Grant saw Spartans grab a late winner against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Ainslie Park to send Dougie Samuel’s men back to the top of the Lowland League.

It was a welcome return to the Spartans side for Jack Beacher who joined youngster Blair Atkinson on the bench.  Jack Beesley started in his familiar upfront role as Spartans kicked off their first game at home in over a month.

The game started in frantic fashion in front of a sizeable crowd at the Academy with a dangerous break into the box by Willie Bremner the first of several early chances for the home side.

Donal Henretty then showed some exquisite skill as he danced on a sixpence in the Gala box but his shot went wide.

The game then burst into life in the 11th minute.

Gala’s Sutherland appeared to go down in the Spartans box under a challenge but any claims were waved aside by Referee Curran.

Moments later, Bremner dashed down the wing before his cross-cum-shot was parried by Dodds only for McLeod to slot the rebound into the net.  1-0 Spartans.

Spartans almost doubled their lead shortly after when a Beesley free-kick saw Dodds get down low to save McLeod’s header.

Cennerazzo was inches away from a rare goal but the big defender’s curled effort just shaved the top of the bar after nifty footwork by Bremner at the edge of the box offered him a chance at glory.

As the game petered out towards the break, Gala grabbed an equaliser against the run of play. A throw in on the stand side touchline was flick across the six yard box by Paliczka before being side footed into the net by Marc Berry. 1-1

Mcleod was denied by the post after a delightful turn & shot from 12 yards out that brought a warm round of applause from the home crowd.

Half Time: Spartans 1-1 Gala Fairydean Rovers

An interested spectator in former Livingston boss John ‘Yogi’ Hughes was in the stand as both teams made their way back out with neither camps making any changes.

The visitors started to play with greater confidence and Paliczka almost capitalised on a Spartans defensive mix-up as the game opened up on the hour mark however his shot was blocked and hoofed to safety.

A delightfully flighted Beesley corner was headed goal-bound by the industrious McLeod but it took a last gasp acrobatic clearance by goalscorer Berry to keep the score level.

Frustration started to creep into the Spartans play and Whately was booked for a clumsy challenge midway inside his own half.  The resultant free-kick by Sutherland was kept low but well watched by Bennett.

Jack Beacher, making his first outing since picking up an injury in the Ramsdens Cup against Queen of the South, was introduced into the game in the 75th minute after replacing Willie Bremner.

A further double substitution with seven minutes left on the clock saw Blair Atkinson and Robbie Ross replace McLeod and Henretty as Spartans looked to press for a winner.

That winner came in the 86th minute in controversial circumstances.

Alan Brown made his way into the box before finally succumbing to the second of the Gala defenders challenges on the bye-line.  Down he went leaving the Referee in no doubt as he pointed straight to the spot despite the vocal remonstrations from the Gala contingent.

Up stepped John Grant who calmly thumped the ball straight down the middle of Dodd’s goal to send the Spartan Army wild. 2-1.

Despite a final flourish from the Borders men to salvage a point, Spartans hung on for a vital victory.

Final Score: Spartans 2-1 Gala Fairydean Rovers

Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel was a relieved boss post-match, “Naturally, I am delighted to get a win today and thought, over the piece, we deserved it.  We were good for 40 first half minutes, hitting the woodwork twice in the process before losing a sloppy goal.

“The 2nd half was definitely more even with perhaps Gala playing the better football however we dug deep in the end and got the win we set out to achieve.”

Malt of the Hops Man of the Match: Ally MacKinnon

Team: Bennett, Grant, Cennerazzo, Blaikie, MacKinnon, Bremner, Brown, Whatley, Henretty, McLeod, Beesley. Subs: Ross, Beacher, Trialist, Atkinson, Gilpin

The Lowland League card:

East Kilbride 0-3 Dalbeattie Star
Threave Rovers 2-1 Vale of Leithen

Scottish Cup 2nd Round Replays:

Fraserburgh 2-0 Edinburgh City
Preston Athletic 1-2 Queens Park
Whitehill Welfare 1-2 Stirling Albion

Next Fixture

Date: 23/07/24
Opponent: Forfar Athletic
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Premier Sports Cup
Kick off: 7.45pm

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