Under 20s: Spartans win Development League Cup in style

Posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

It was the perfect ending to the Under 20s season at New Central Park in Kelty on Friday night as Les Atkinson’s side lifted the Development League Cup trophy after a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Stirling Albion.

For several of the Spartans outfit, it was to be one final hurrah in the Club colours, some having been involved with the club from their nursery years.

It was a quick return to Kelty for the North Edinburgh side having ended their League campaign there last Saturday afternoon however there was to be no repeat of the sublime sunshine as the grey clouds covered the Fife sky.

From gloom to boom in just three minutes however as James Clare pulled off the most incredible 40 yard strike that couldn’t have been struck any sweeter, with the keeper left with no option than to dive valiantly and watch it whizz past to bulge the back of the net. 

Josh Laing’s early dominance out wide saw him take some energetic dashes up the line, causing discomfort for a Stirling Albion side that were finding the Spartans start difficult to handle.

Given Ndlovu came close before Charlie Rothnie latched onto the ball in the box as it broke free and his fierce half-volley had ‘Destination Onion Bag’ written all over it.  Spartans two goals up inside the opening 11 minutes however the Spartan Army support amongst the 179 crowd have seen these films before!

The game simmered into a mild frenzy shortly after with a lull in goalscoring and understandably, an attempt at a resurgence by the Binos who looked to chip away at the Spartans lead.

When Aaron Cameron broke free late in the half, he selflessly squared to Given Ndlovu on the edge of the box however the talismanic striker maybe had too much too to decide his next move and was unable to trouble the keeper.

Stirling Albion came close ahead of the interval with a period of sustained pressure however the Spartans defence continued to remain resolute and held out until the teams headed to the sheds in the nearby Community Centre.

HT: Spartans 2-0 Stirling Albion

It was almost a double for Charlie Rothnie moments after the break but he just couldn’t extend his leg enough to reach the ball with the keeper coming off his line to close the gap.

Then it was Aaron Cameron’s turn to fire a low drive towards the Binos end and it whizzed past the post on the carpet.

The Spartans defence then decided to make things lively at the other end with some uncharacteristic defending that had the otherwise chilled Les Atkinson up on his feet offering instruction.

Cometh the hour, cometh the further light between the sides and one hand on the trophy.  Spartans making a break and when Captain Sam Coats made his way to the bye-line, he squared it across the face of the goal to find Given Ndlovu who tapped home is 82nd and final Spartans u20s goal. 

Spare a thought though for Archie Wylie who was credited by the announcer as the scorer.  Close, but no cigars all round.

A double change saw Max Charleston and Kyle McNeil introduced for Wylie and Rothnie.

Into the final quarter of an hour and the metaphorical red and white ribbons were being tied to the trophy after Kyle McNeil sprung the offside trap and pushed the ball beyond the advancing keeper into the empty net to make it 4-0 and spark wonderful celebration scenes.

A triple chance followed before the restart as Andy Kelly, Logan Wilson-Need and Adri Anagnostou entered the fray with Ndlovu, Cameron and Clare retiring to the dug-out.

Despite being a relative on-looker throughout, Rowan Weir between the Spartans sticks still needed to be alert and the goalie, playing in his final game after no fewer than 15 – yes, you read that correctly – years at the Club, flung himself to deny Stirling Albion a late consolation.

FT: Spartans 4-0 Stirling Albion

MintBox Man of the Match: Josh Laing

Next Fixture

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

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