The Spartans Pre-Season so far…

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2022

It’s been a positive and productive pre-season so far for Douglas Samuel and his Spartans side as they build up the programme ahead of the 2022-23 Lowland League campaign.

The Gaffer, who celebrated his 10th anniversary in the role last month, has seen his side put through their paces on a quartet of occasions so far, with wins against East Fife, Threave Rovers and Crossgates Primrose and a narrow defeat against a strong Hearts XI.

New signings Harvey Swann, Jordan Tapping, Gavin Morrison, Rhys Armstrong, Sean Brown and Jamie Penker have bolstered the ranks during the summer and the Spartan Army faithful have seen most of them in action so far.

First up saw East Fife head to Ainslie Park to kick-off match time.  It was the Fifers who were first to get on the metaphorical scoreboard when a 6th minute free-kick flew into the top corner to give the League 2 side the lead which they held onto until the interval.

Bain’s Pies were doing a roaring trade for the first time this year at the break and the touring Committee enjoyed Jeanette’s hospitality in the ‘Boardroom’.

After shaking off the first half ring-rustiness, Spartans looked hungrier after the break and when Chris Inglis scooped home the equaliser with seven minutes left on the clock, the momentum was with the hosts.

That was then worked into a winner when Cammy Russell used his strength to shrug off the defenders before putting his laces through the ball to earn the victory.

Next up at a blustery Ainslie Park saw Threave Rovers head to North Edinburgh fresh on the back of their application to the West of Scotland League under the stewardship of Vinnie Parker.

Spartans took the lead just after the half hour mark when a corner into the Threave box by Cammy Russell was headed on by Blair Henderson into the path of Jamie Penker who poked home from six yards.

Cometh the hour and it was last season’s top netter Blair Henderson who was on hand to send the ball home after fine play from Russell.

Biggest challenge of the afternoon was keeping on top of the substitutions, with the home bench offloading six in one fell swoop.

A midweek run out in the Pilton sunshine in front of over 1,000 fans saw Spartans take on a strong Hearts XI.  The corresponding fixture last season saw the JT’s run out 0-7 winners and just 24 hours previously, the team had dispatched East Fife by the same score.

Just how would the Spartans deal with a Robbie Neilson side that contained three former Spartans youth stars – Finlay Pollock, Cameron Logan and Harry Stone.  The later the only player to play the full 90 minutes!

Hearts went ahead after just ten minutes when Euan Henderson pounced to score despite Blair Carswell’s attempts to keep the visitors at bay.

Any fear of an avalanche to follow were to be completely unfounded as the home side regained their composure and but for the linesman’s intervention, Sean Brown’s header home would have levelled the Edinburgh friendly.

On the hour mark, Hearts replaced all 10 outfield players, whilst the home bench made 50% of those in return.

It was a good workout for the team in warm conditions against a good Hearts side and by all accounts the lads didn’t find it too much of a challenge sleeping that night!

Passports at the ready, Spartans headed overseas to Fife last Saturday to visit the delightfully named Humbug Park, the home of Crossgates Primrose.  Its unusual name deriving from a disused pit of the former Cuttlehill Colliery on which site the ground now stands.

The East of Scotland Premier Division side finished 5th in the table last year and had drawn 2-2 with East Stirlingshire earlier in the week.

It was the men from North Edinburgh who took the lead midway through the second half when Cammy Russell found himself in space before firing the ball low into the inside post with such pace it barely saw the keeper react before it hit the net.

The usual plethora of replacements in the second half saw the sides change significantly however it was the Spartans side who benefitted most and after a neat cross by Harvey Swann, Gregor Woods slipped the ball home to make it 0-2.

Next up for Spartans saw a trip to East Lothian to face another East of Scotland Premier Division side, this time in the shape of Musselburgh Athletic.  

It was a sun-soaked Olivebank and the Honest Toun bathed in the summer rays on a balmy Tuesday evening.

Sean Brown gave Spartans the lead ten minutes before the break, despite appeals for a flag from the home side when he ‘played the whistle’ and drove home from inside the box.

Blair Henderson bagged a brace inside 10 second half minutes to extend the lead. His first after he capitalised on a defensive error to send the ball netbound with a penalty-box melee.

His second came from fine work from Gregor Woods who sent in a telling cross deep into the box for Henderson to swoop low and send his diving header beyond the keeper.

Mussie pulled one back through their talisman King who outjumped Carswell on the edge of the box to nod into the empty net.

Next Fixture

Date: 29/06/24
Opponent: Livingston FC
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Kick off: 3.00pm

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