SPFL 2: Henderson hits home winner in humdinger

Posted on Sunday, October 8th, 2023

The Spartans recorded their first win over Stranraer in an enthralling encounter at Stair Park which saw the lead change hands three times with Blair Henderson’s strike proving to be the winner in a seven goal humdinger.

Despite the rain sweeping across the country, Stair Park was in good condition with the going underfoot understandably soft.

Spartans started off in lively fashion with Jordan Tapping making some telling moves up the wing and sending in a series of crosses, however the end product was just evading the tourists in the early stages.

Cammy Russell was next to test the keeper after collecting the ball deep inside the Stranraer half.  His low shot skiting across the slippery surface forcing Budinauckas to get down low.

Then it was James Craigen to come even closer!  A penetrating run saw JC set up an opportunity from 20 yards and his effort was pushed onto the post by the home stopper.

It was against the run of play that the deadlock was broken.  James Dolan being a bit of a nuisance with some fine trickery and his low cross along the face of the goal found Tam Orr at the back post and from a yard out, it was tapped home.

The hosts almost added a second moments later.  Despite what looked like a foul on Rhys Armstrong in the middle of the park, play raged on and a shot from    narrowly flew past Jacques Heraghty’s post.

With eight minutes left til the break, Spartans equalised.  Cammy Russell went on the run and was abruptly halted 25 yards out from goal.  From the resultant free-kick, Russell and James Craigen stood over the ball before the latter perhaps took everyone by surprise by taking the shot that cleared the wall and nestled in the net. 

Then, on the stroke of half time, the pendulum had swung in favour of the visitors.  Blair Henderson was industrious in midfield to push the ball to Cammy Russell.  The playmaker looked up and threaded a neat pass for Rhys Armstrong to race onto it and he dispatched with aplomb to give Spartans the lead at the break.

HT: Stranraer 1-2 The Spartans

No changes at the break and thankfully no rain either for all involved.

Spartans started the half just as they had in the first, pressing at every opportunity.  Blair Henderson sent a header over the bar then Bradley Whyte’s shot from inside the box went narrowly over the bar.

Ten minutes had elapsed and it was time for Spartans to extend their advantage to two goals.  A corner into the middle of the crowded box saw Jordan Tapping backheel the ball into the net, making it 1-3 to the men from North Edinburgh.

A change on the hour mark saw Mikey Allan replace Kieran Watson.

It was almost four but for the width of the post which was met by a Danny Denholm header. 

Midway through the half and a lifeline was thrown for the hosts when they reduced the deficit back to single goal when James Dolan’s audacious effort from out wide flew into the opposite top corner of Heraghty’s net.

Spartans looked to respond and a double substitution saw Jamie Dishington and Gavin Morrison replace Jordan Tapping and Danny Denholm.

Within four short minutes since their second, Stranraer equalised!  A long hoof up the park evaded Aryton Sonkur and Deryn Lang raced into the box before sending the ball low beyond Heraghty.  Could Spartans be on their way to a fourth successive draw?

The answer, five minutes later, was to be a firm no.  Dogged determination by Bradley Whyte saw him dispose a dithering defender on the touchline and he squared the ball to Blair Henderson in an acre of space in the box.  The prolific marksman didn’t need a written invitation before unleashing an unstoppable strike that left the keeper no chance.

Stranraer tried like the wolf in pursuit of inflicting damage upon the premises of the three little pigs but as much as they set out in their attempts to huff and puff the Spartans defence down, they remained resolute, soaking up pressure like a giant square of one sheet.

It looked like that earlier two goal cushion may have been restored when Cammy Russell went on an injury time run only for his shot to be well stopped by the Stranraer keeper.

FT: Stranraer 3-4 The Spartans

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Bradley Whyte

Next Fixture

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

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