Lowland League | Spartans double at the death deals deadly Borders blow

Posted on Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Second half strikes by Nicky Reid and Blair Atkinson saw Spartans make it back to back Lowland League victories with a 0-2 win over Gala Fairydean Rovers at Netherdale.

Following their Tunnock’s Wafer Challenge Cup tie in midweek, Spartans Manager Dougie Samuel shuffled his pack ahead of his side’s trip to the Borders with Blair Atkinson returning to the starting line-up at the expense of the injured Jack Smith.

The match got underway in decidedly balmy conditions in the Borders, thankfully however the fans housed in the newly positioned 100-seater enclosure didn’t experience the threatened thunder and lightning forecast for kick-off time.

Some early kamikaze defending from the visitors had Blair Carswell looking lively, with the keeper’s quick thinking seeing him dash from his line to divert a promising Rovers opportunity away from his goal and the final effort went wide.

A Gregor Woods shot was the closest it came in a frantic opening half hour whilst hearts were in mouths shortly after when the hosts hit the crossbar from a 20 yards free-kick.

But for the glove of Carswell to direct the ball away from an incoming attacker at the back post, Spartans would have most certainly been a goal behind as play raged from end to end.

Perhaps the best chance of the half for Spartans came when Dean Hoskins whipped a cross into the six yard box. Woods was almost on hand but his up close and personal defender done enough to deny.

There was a significant shout for a Spartans spot-kick shortly after when Hoskins rose like a Salmon to head towards goal. The ball looked net bound but for the man on the post who managed to get a part of his anatomy onto the ball to prevent it from crossing the line. Despite the remonstrations that it was an arm, the match officials weren’t of that opinion. With no Lowland League VAR to fall back on, the ball made it’s way up the park courtesy of an unceremonious hoof.

Half Time: Gala Fairydean Rovers 0-0 The Spartans

An early free-kick from the hosts, under the watchful eye of Gala favourite John Collins and his former Hibs team-mate Gordon Rae, sailed over the bar but it once again served a timely reminder of the danger the Netherdale men offered.

A thunderous effort by Woods had the power, but not the positioning, with the Gala goalie grateful for a lack of requirement to move too far to save.

Max Ashmore was introduced at the expense of Arron Murrell and the replacement didn’t take long to try and stamp his experience and authority on the game. The former Stirling Albion man’s 25 yard strike was well saved as Spartans searched for the opener.

The final fifteen minutes were perhaps worth the admission money alone.

Spartans made a double substitution with Cameron Dawson and Nicky Reid entering the fray as Scott Maxwell and Woods headed to the sheds.

Drama followed as Blair Tolmie was sent for an early shower. After a week that saw him become a Father, the defender received two more cards than he’d wished for and the second of the afternoon saw him trundle up the tunnel.

As far as clichés go, sometimes it’s harder to play against ten men. For Gala, they will most certainly look back at what was about to unfold and rue those first half missed opportunities.

Alan Brown’s cross into the box was partly headed away by a Gala defender but he could only knock it into the path of Nicky Reid who got his body over the ball before unleashing an unstoppable strike to open his senior Spartans account and cue scenes amongst his team-mates, bench and travelling support alike.

16 year old Reid almost nabbed another moments later when he wormed his way through the Gala defence but he could only send his attempt wide.

With the match deep into injury time, Rovers launched a bid to salvage a point. A long throw into the Spartans box was won by Hoskins who headed to safety. The ball found its way to Ashmore who unceremoniously launched it upfield, picking out Blair Atkinson, roaming free like a Lion on the Serengeti whilst a sea of red and black jerseys looked on from the afar.

The striker still had one task to complete and that was to win the foot-race against the home shot-stopper who was almost on the halfway line, cruelly exposed like the aforementioned Lion’s Zebra prey.

Atkinson knocked the ball past the stranded keeper and with the freedom of Netherdale, he sauntered in unopposed before thrashing it into the net.

Full Time: Gala Fairydean Rovers 0-2 The Spartans

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Dean Hoskins

Next Fixture

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

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