SPFL 2: Henderson hat-trick magic in Methil secures win

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

Blair Henderson was the Spartans hero in Methil with a second half hat-trick to secure three points on the road and propel his side into third spot in the SPFL 2 table.

Sam Newman and Danny Denholm were in the starting XI, two changes from the side that faced Clyde at the weekend, with Callum Booth rested and Paul Watson, who extended his contract to the end of the season, taking up a spot on the bench.

It was the first time since the 1995/96 Scottish Cup that the clubs had met in competitive action and the second fixture of the current campaign, a 2-2 draw last time out at Ainslie Park.

The hosts were on a five-match unbeaten run and from the off, they looked to build on this, launching missiles up the park seeking out dangerman Nathan Austin.  He played the ball to Brogan Walls who fired over.

There was a half chance at the other end as Spartans looked to get into the game played in fresh conditions with a Methil chill in the air.  James Craigen in a crowded box just unable to dig the ball out from under his feet to get clean contact in order to trouble Allan Fleming in the East Fife goal.

Austin was the action man for the Fifers and it was an important block by Blair Carswell to deny the striker who scored in the previous encounter at Ainslie Park.

The chances were almost basketball-esque, one end then the other, with Jamie Dishington attempting a fierce low drive from inside the box, only to whizz it wide.

A fine ball launched over the top of the Fife defence played in Sam Newman as the half edged to a close. With Blair Henderson in the box, Newman’s attempted cross to find the striker was well cut out by a tracking defender.

One final play of the half saw that man Blair Carswell get enough to Connor McManus’ effort and Ayrton Sonkur completed the survival mode and hoofed the ball to safety.

HT: East Fife 0-0 The Spartans

An early opportunity for the tourists as a free-kick into the penalty area fell to Bradley Whyte who couldn’t keep his effort under the bar however it was a bright start to the half.

Then, six minutes after the interval, Spartans took the lead.  Blair Carswell’s restart was launched up the park, two defensive headers later and his namesake Henderson was on hand to benefit from the adventurous effort seeking out the home keeper and duly slotted home.

Five minutes later, the points were looking good when the same man was on hand to double Spartans lead.  James Craigen winning the ball as East Fife went on the offensive, linking up with Rhys Armstrong before sending a low cross into the 18 yard box for Henderson to hammer home with a clinical finish.

These movies have been watched before and all it takes is for a sniff of a chance to halve the deficit and squeekybumtime can kick in.  Blair Carswell’s tremendous stop from Jack Healy ensured that scenario wasn’t set to unfold.

With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, Danny Denholm was withdrawn and Cammy Russell came on to make his 100th appearance for the Club.  Seconds later, he was fouled.  Plus ca change as they say in Paris…

Then, with five minutes to play, a long ball from deep inside the Spartans half evaded the leap of a Johnathan Page in the East Fife defence and there was Blair Henderson to collect, compose himself and slide home and another match ball to add to his growing collection.

There was still time for two batches of substitutions before the end of the game.

Henderson’s hat-trick strike his last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Paul Watson along with Armstrong swapping with Gavin Morrison.

Next up saw Sam Jones and Sean Brown get minutes after changing places with Dishington and Craigen.

East Fife had the ball in the net deep into injury time, only for Austin to be flagged offside.

FT: East Fife 0-3 The Spartans

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Blair Henderson

Next Fixture

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

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