IRN BRU Cup: Rover and out! Gallant Spartans exit in penalty shoot-out drama

Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Spartans bowed out of the Irn Bru Cup, but only after taking SPFL 1 side Albion Rovers all the way to a penalty shoot out after the sides couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes of goalless action at Cliftonhill.

Gaffer Dougie Samuel rung the changes in his starting line-up ahead of the tie, with Andrew Stobie making his first start between the sticks in competitive action, whilst Jack Nixon and Scott Maxwell returned to the fray.

The late evening orange globe of golden setting sunshine was undoubtedly a factor at the coin toss when Spartans skipper Michael Herd opted for his side to shoot into the half-blinded eyes of Daniel Potts in the Rovers goal.

It was the Rovers net that looked troubled as early as the eighth minute when a Scott Wilson corner was delightfully delivered deep into the penalty box with Blair Tolmie and Adam Corbett both narrowly missing making contact to send their side into the lead.

Michael Herd was next up to forge open an opportunity when he burst into the opposition half, only for his shot to get caught up in the grass and trundle through for a goal kick.

When Jamie Gallagher collected the ball inside the visitor’s half there was an air of anticipation amongst the home support however they were to be disappointed when the effort went well wide.

Craig Stevenson then came close when he unleashed a bullet that started well, only to divert its direction at the final stages from the diving Potts.

HT: Albion Rovers 0-0 Spartans

Jamie Dishington was introduced at the interval at the expense of Ross Guthrie who was industrious in the opening period.

Rovers picked up the pace as they looked to put their league status superiority into action.  Ryan McManus with a golden chance to break the deadlock only to clear the bar with some gusto with the onion bag beckoning from close range.

Scott Maxwell was replaced on the hour by the PA announcers dream in Dachi Khutsishvili.

With little to trouble him throughout the match, Andrew Stobie had to look sharp to save a well placed free-kick from just outside the box to keep his side in the game.

A further substitution in the shape of Brandon Archibald was made with twenty minutes to go and he almost made himself the hero in the dying moments of the regulatory time when he drove into the box, twisting and turning his marker but only to find the side netting.

FT: Albion Rovers 0-0 Spartans

Extra Time came and went with one notable effort from Michael McMillan of Rovers that took a defensive deflection to safety with Stobie sprawling.  The keeper looked assured with his collection of the corner moments after.

ET FT: Albion Rovers 0-0 Spartans

The lottery of the penalty shoot-out followed.  Ross Allum, who came on for the second spell of extra time opened the Spartans account and Stobie saved the next.  It was heartbreak for Herd as the battle-weary skipper saw his attempt stopped by Potts. Successful kicks were traded before Khutsishvili was kept out leaving Jason Marr to be the Albion hero of the hour (or two and a bit).

Penalties: Albion Rovers 5-4 Spartans

Next Fixture

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

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