Yo Ho Woe as Spartans lose out in seven goal Christmas cracker

Posted on Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Spartans lost out in a seven goal thriller at Ainslie Park in foul conditions against Stirling University in their League Cup qualifying round clash.

The League Cup offered Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel the chance to utilise his squad and it was a start between the sticks for Ross Gilpin whilst Keith McLeod was looking to get on the score sheet in his tenth consecutive game.

Rainfall put paid to many sporting fixtures across the Capital but thankfully the Academy 3G surface allowed this Christmas clash against Stirling Uni to go ahead, giving the fans value for their money – or for their generous ‘Donate at the Gate’ offerings.

An opening 20 minutes offered very little in the way of goalmouth action, with the midfield play akin to a game of chess with both sides trying to suss out the next move.

The war of attrition however made way for a typically Scottish ‘route one’ goal that saw the visitors take a 22nd minute lead.

Uni Keeper Ryan Marshall’s long ball through the middle of the pitch bounced its way to just outside the Spartans box and as Gilpin looked to advance to collect, Paul Jon Sludden’s chip shot sailed over his head and nestled into the back of the unguarded net. 0-1.

It was a lead that Spartans failed to overturn however they were back on level terms two minutes later.

An in-swinging Motion corner sailed over the cluster of players in the six-yard box, only to hit the head of the unfortunate Williams-Mitchell at the back post and his mis-directed header sailed into the roof of the net, despite the desperate attempts by Marshall to claw it out from under the crossbar.

There were strong claims for a penalty in the 35th minute after Brown went down in the box however Referee Munro waved play on despite the remonstrations of the Spartans players and supporters.  On review, any infringement on ‘Hovis’ occurred outside the box as he slalomed his way through three defenders as he rushed in on goal.

Kevin Motion came close as the first half came to a halt, his 25 yard strike whizzing narrowly past the post.  The margin of error tight, but it remained all square as the players headed into the changing rooms at the break.

Half-Time: Spartans 1-1 Stirling Uni

The second half burst into life in the 52th minute when the Students were awarded what looked like a soft penalty.  Williams-Mitchell went down in the box as Ally MacKinnon looked ensure he left enough space between him and his opponent.

Unfortunately for the Spartans Captain, the Ref pointed to the spot.  Sludden took the spot kick and drilled the ball straight down the middle of the goal leaving Gilpin no chance. 1-2.

As the rain started to sweep across the Academy, Stirling grabbed a third.  Kyle Faulds drilled the ball at Gilpin, the keeper getting down low to save at the near post however the ball squirmed out from under his grasp, falling at the feet of Williams-Mitchell who tapped in from two yards. 1-3

Spartans made two substitutions, Mushin and Anderson were replaced by Beesley and Grant as the home side looked for a way back into the game.

That came in the shape of goal machine Keith McLeod in the 71st minute.  The talisman unleashing a humdinger of a strike from fully 25 yards (it reached 40 in the Academy Café area afterwards) which swerved out of the reach of an outstretched arm of Marshall into the bottom corner.  2-3.

McLeod’s strike seeing him surpass his tally from the whole of last season and also notching up the incredible record of scoring in his 10th consecutive game.

Sadly for the home side, the next goal went the way of the Students.  A break down the line saw goalscorer Sludden turn provider, setting up Millar from 12 yards and the striker made no mistake in burying the ball into the net.  2-4.

Motion almost made the gap a single goal however his curling effort hit the woodwork and edged away to safety.

The deficit was reduced as the clock worked its way closer to the 90 minute mark.  A rammy in the box from a free kick saw the ball squirt out on the six yard line, McLeod and O’Donnell both in the mix, with the big defender claiming the final touch.  3-4.

Into injury time we went with an aerial assault from a Spartans corner however it bounced off the thigh of Beacher and out to safety.

The final act of what was a pulsating second half saw Motion with a last gasp opportunity to be a hero however his effort from the edge of the area went shooting over the bar.

Full Time: Spartans 3-4 Stirling University.

Team vs Stirling Uni: Gilpin, Brown, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, MacKinnon, O’Donnell, Muhsin, Whatley, Anderson, McLeod, Motion.  Subs: Beesley, Grant, Beacher, Blaikie & Main.

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Mark Whatley

Finally, the Club would like to thank everyone – including the Stirling players and management – for their overwhelming generosity towards our Donate at the Gate initiative.

On behalf of the Club, we’d like to wish all our Supporters, Sponsors and everyone around the Academy as very happy Christmas.  We’ll see you all next week for the clash against Whitehill Welfare.


Next Fixture

                     
Date: Saturday 13th April
Opponent: Stranraer FC
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: SPFL 2
Kick off: 3.00pm

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