Christmas came early for The Spartans this weekend as their rivals at the top of the table both dropped points. Elsewhere East Stirlingshire and Cumbernauld Colts were the big movers of the weekend. We’ve got all that and more in this week’s SLFL Roundup… let’s get to it.
East Stirlingshire had been in good form heading into their match at The Indodrill Stadium against table-topping BSC Glasgow, four wins out of five for John Sludden’s side would have given them hope despite losing twice to Stephen Swift’s BSC twice this season already. Stephen Barr replaced the injured Ryan Marshall in the home goal, while top scorers Jack Smith and Martin Grehan came back into the side.
Sludden’s side were buoyed by the loan extension of Michael Bolochowechyj and things in Alloa were incredibly tight until 57 minutes when Connor Greene picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute to find himself heading for an early shower. Martin Grehan missed a penalty for the home side in the early stages of the second half, and after that the match looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw until BSC centre back Ciaran Donnelly also saw red for a second yellow with a couple of minutes left. Del Ure stepped up and dispatched the free kick past Barr, giving Shire their fifth win in a row and leaving BSC Glasgow looking down the barrel of East Kilbride and The Spartans.
In East Kilbride, it was Edinburgh University who were the visitors. Billy Stark’s Kilby were looking to pile on the pressure with BSC just a few points ahead, but Dorian Ogunro’s side would have known that a solid result for them could propel them into the top ten. Nobody knew that better than Finn Daniels Yeoman who scored in the last meeting between the two sides (a 1-1 draw). He put Edinburgh University ahead and it was the Uni side that were in the ascendency going in at half time. EK put up a fight in the second half but Mark Tait barely put a foot wrong in the away goal, and the match finished 0-1 to Edinburgh University.
An opportunity lost for East Kilbride who have a difficult away trip to Ochilview to take on East Stirlingshire next weekend.
That put the ball in The Spartans court as they went into a tough home fixture against Selkirk at Ainslie Park. Both sides left it late to bring the drama: if the first 75 minutes were punctuated by a lot of bluster, the last 15 were breathless. Ross Allum sent Selkirk ‘keeper Gregor Amos the wrong way from the penalty spot before George Hunter converted at the back post to make it 1-1 going into the final few moments.
Spartans welcomed a trialist striker onto the pitch with 20 minutes to go and it was to be this mystery man who gave the North Edinburgh side the three points and put the ball very much in their court going into the Christmas period. Ian McFarland’s strike was saved by Amos but the trialist slipped the rebound home. Final score: 2-1 Spartans.
Gretna 2008’s home match against Gala Fairydean Rovers was called off due to a frozen pitch and this gave Cumbernauld Colts the chance to leapfrog them as Hawick Royal Albert came to Broadwood. Albert striker Curtis Rose had stated in the week that his side were hopeful of racking up some SLFL points but things started to unravel for Craig Tully’s side inside ten minutes as Stephen O’Neill converted a Craig Murray cutback to put Colts ahead. Murray got in on the act five minutes later, nodding home at the back post before O’Neill got his second on 22 minutes.
Colts went in for the half time break three goals to the good and things were due to go from bad to worse for Hawick after the break. Craig Holmes hit the back of the net from 20 yards after a short corner and Craig Saunders saved a Stephen O’Neill penalty on 65 minutes to keep the score at 4-0. Five minutes later though, Fraser Sheridan capitalised on a cross into the corridor of uncertainty to make it 5. Michael Wallace had a fantastic game for Colts, involved in many of his side’s goals, and he added Colts’ sixth from a Craig Holmes corner. With just one minute left it was Holmes who completed the rout, converting after some intricate passing play around the Hawick penalty area.
Colts leapfrogged Selkirk and Gretna 2008 and find themselves in fourth ahead of welcoming the Raydale Park side to Broadwood next weekend. Hawick remain rooted to the bottom of the Lowland League with no points from 15 games and a tough away fixture at Ferguson Park against Whitehill Welfare in prospect next weekend.
Excited as we were in the Preview about the prospect of Dalbeattie Star taking on Vale of Leithen at the bottom of the league, it unfortunately fell victim to the cold snap. That gave Edusport Academy and Whitehill Welfare, who met at Galabank, the opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and the league’s bottom three sides. It was Edusport who took the three points, goals from Maxime Oulaitoh and a second in as many weeks for Rangers loanee Mikey Hewitt moved Ricky Waddell’s side level on points with their opponents ahead of a visit to Vale of Leithen on Saturday.
University of Stirling had only managed two league games since the start of November as they opened the doors of The Falkirk Stadium to Alex Cunningham’s Civil Service Strollers who came into the match looking to put themselves further into the SLFL’s top ten. Civil took the lead through Steven Froude inside 20 minutes but University of Stirling roared into action in the second half with goals from Kieran Hall, Dominic Slattery, and Blair Lyons securing the three points for Chris Geddes’ men.
With all that taken nicely into account for another SLFL Roundup, let’s take a look at the league table as we head toward Matchday 17.
|7||Civil Service Strollers||30||11||7||12||47||44||3||40|
|9||University of Stirling||30||11||5||14||45||49||-4||38|
|13||Gala Fairydean Rovers||30||8||7||15||43||63||-20||31|
|15||Vale of Leithen||30||8||5||17||44||76||-32||29|
|16||Hawick Royal Albert||30||1||3||26||18||108||-90||6|
And here’s the top goalscorers list…
|Andy Rodgers||East Stirlingshire||18|
|Paul Sludden||East Stirlingshire||18|
|Stuart Noble||Gala Fairydean Rovers||11|
|Gary Nicholson||Whitehill Welfare||10|
|Sean Stewart||Vale of Leithen||9|
|Jack Guthrie||Edinburgh University||8|
|Kieran Hall||University of Stirling||8|
|Gary Redpath||BSC Glasgow||8|
|Tommy Muir||Dalbeattie Star||8|
|Nathan Evans||Edinburgh University||8|
|Stuart Gray||Gretna 2008||7|
|Lewis Bonar||University of Stirling||7|
|Jordan Finnie||Vale of Leithen||7|
|Jack Wright||Whitehill Welfare||6|
|Thomas Garnier||Edusport Academy||6|
|Chris Geddes||University of Stirling||6|
|Jamie McCormack||East Stirlingshire||6|
|Joe Boyle||Edinburgh University||6|