Penalties all round… another action packed weekend of Lowland League action
the spartans 3-2 university of stirling
By Euan Fairley
Blair Atkinson’s 90th minute header completed a dramatic fightback for Spartans as they took all three points in an enthralling contest with Stirling Uni. Goals either side of half-time from Craig Brown and Player/Manager Chris Geddes had put Stirling Uni in a seemingly commanding position early in the second half but it wasn’t to be as Spartans turned the tie around. Michael ‘Bolo’ Bolochoweckyi’s close-range header was followed by an excellent finish from Jack Smith before Atkinson got the winner, rising highest to head home from six yards from a corner.
This was the second meeting in a week for these sides, with a goal-less draw the previous weekend meaning little was expected of this tie as a spectacle. Spartans came into the game on the back of that draw and disappointing defeats to league rivals Civil Service Strollers and BSC, while a loss to league-leaders Kelty was Stirling Uni’s only defeat in their last six outings.
The opening exchanges offered little in terms of excitement and the game threatened to be a repeat of the previous encounter. It wasn’t until Craig Brown opened the scoring on 20 minutes that it sprang into life. A corner from the left should have been cleared at the near post by Spartans’ captain Ian McFarland, however he sliced the ball into the air, resulting in chaos in the six-yard box. The ball eventually fell to Brown in space and he smashed the ball into the net from 10 yards.
Chris Geddes should have made it two just before half-time. A long ball from Calum Heath put Geddes through but his lob was too heavy and cleared the bar.
The second-half was only ten minutes old when Geddes made amends. Another long ball presented him with a clear run at goal – his first shot was well saved by Spartans’ ‘keeper Carswell, however the ball fell back to him and he slotted calmly into the bottom corner. The delight was clear on the big striker’s face, with this being his first goal in over a year
Spartans had started the second half with more urgency and directness and Geddes’ goal did little to curb their improved display. On 59mins their efforts were rewarded as a corner from the left fell to Dean Hoskins who played a delicate cross across the face of goal, which was headed in from close range by Bolochoweckyi.
Shortly after, Spartans hit the woodwork. The ball sat up invitingly for the combative McFarland whose volley from 20 yards cannoned off the outside of the post.
They weren’t to be denied though and the equaliser came on 66mins. The ball found its’ way to Jack Smith inside the box and he drilled a low finish past the impressive Ben Fry in the Uni goal.
As the clock ticked down it looked like Spartans had passed up the chance to snatch the three points as a combination of subs Dale Baxter and Cameron Dawson couldn’t squeeze the ball home from a dangerous position inside the box. It was from the resulting corner that they got the winner and did so in the most simple of fashions. Blair Atkinson showed the most desire to get on the end of the corner and his header across goal hit the back of the net, much to the delight of the Spartans faithful.
Uni’s Manager Geddes spoke of his disappointment on the University of Stirling’s Twitter page: “I don’t think we deserved to lose. If you don’t defend corners like we did twice there then that’s what happens.”
Spartans boss Dougie Samuel will be delighted, however, with the character his players showed to snatch the victory against stubborn opposition. The result leaves Spartans in 5th place, whilst Uni remain in 10th – the same position they ended the 2018/19 season.
The Goals from the Gantry!
— The Spartans FC (@spartansfc) January 26, 2020
civil service strollers 2-3 kelty hearts
By Ronan Alexander
A hat-trick of penalties from Scott Linton maintained Kelty Hearts six point lead at the top of the Lowland League table.
Kelty took the lead after nine minutes when Nathan Austin was nudged in the back which sent him to the floor and Linton sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
Ten minutes into the second half the referee pointed to the spot again. Ross Philp curled a shot high and wide with Strollers keeper Josh Donaldson coming out his six yard box to close the angle. In the two players follow through, they collided despite the ball sailing over the goal and the referee awarded another penalty despite the home sides protests. Linton this time went to the right hand corner and again sent Donaldson the wrong way.
On 68 minutes, another spot kick was awarded when the Strollers defender clipped the Kelty attacker and the home side were reduced to 10 men. Linton made no mistake from 12 yards to complete his hat trick.
Despite being a man down, Strollers continued to fight and Hibs loanee Jayden Fairley pulled a goal back after 81 minutes with a header at the back post.
Josh Morris ensured it was a nervy finish for the visitors as he made it 3-2 in stoppage time by pouncing on a rebound in the six yard box.
The result sees Kelty remain top of the table and Strollers drop to sixth below Spartans.
EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY 1-0 CUMBERNAULD COLTS
By Craig Edwards
Edinburgh University moved off the foot of the Scottish Lowland League table thanks to a one nil victory at home to Cumbernauld Colts.
It was a poor opening 45 minutes at East Peffermill with neither side able to create many clear cut chances.
It took till the 70th minute for the deadlock to be broken when Patrick Baird struck to give the University side all three points.
The victory, Uni’s first since August lifts them above Vale of Leithen and up to 15th while Cumbernauld suffer their fifth defeat in their last six matches.
gala fairydean rovers 4-1 gretna 2008
By Martin Fleming
Despite an immediate opener from Gretna 2008, the men from Galashiels were able to produce a comfortable comeback and put four past Rowan Alexander’s team who were just returning to good form.
A goal from Daniel Smales only a minute and a half in made it seem that a minor upset could be on the cards, however, the Fairydean were quick to secure a comeback finding an equaliser before the ten minute mark. Alexander Murray found the back of the net then shortly after, Marc Berry gave Neil Hastings’ men their first advantage.
Just before half-time, Alexander Murray grabbed himself a brace really allowing Rovers to go into the half-time break with a bit of breathing space.
Despite Gretna’s defensive capabilities during the majority of the second half, they also struggled to get back into the game and an 84th minute goal from Levi Kinchant cemented an important three points for Gala Fairydean Rovers. They move up to 11th after Berwick Rangers’ defeat at the weekend and will hope to fight for a mid-table finish from here on out.
caledonian braves 1-4 bsc glasgow
By Ronan Alexander
BSC Glasgow continued their fine run of form with a 4-1 victory over Caledonian Braves at Alliance Park.
The visitors took the lead when a corner from the right fell to the feet of Martin Grehan at the back post and he slotted a low drive across goal into the far corner after 25 minutes.
10 minutes later the hosts were level courtesy of Neil McLaughlin when he half volleyed into the back of the net from the corner of the box after a lobbed through ball.
Stephen Swift’s men regained the lead from the penalty spot after a soft shove in the box which the visitors didn’t appeal for was deemed as a foul. Declan Hughes fired the spot kick home.
With 13 minutes remaining, Hughes netted another spot kick before in-form Thomas Collins put the icing on the cake nine minutes before the final whistle.
BERWICK RANGERS 0-2 EAST KILBRIDE
By Craig Edwards
East Kilbride claimed all three points with a goal in each half away at Berwick Rangers.
The defending champions needed just under half an hour to take the lead at Shielfield Park thanks to Craig Malcolm despite appeals for handball.
Berwick threatened to find an equaliser but Kieran McGrath made sure the points were returning to East Kilbride as he doubled the lead shortly after half time.
The result moves Kilby up to seventh above Caledonian Braves while Berwick slip behind Gala Fairydean Rovers and into twelfth place.
vale of leithen 0-3 east stirlingshire
By Damon Main
If Vale of Leithen thought this Burns day fixture would serve up something poetic for the home team then they were wrong.
On a heavy surface, which didn’t allow much in the way of flowing football, East Stirlingshire simply blew away the Innerleithen side. And, after Edinburgh University’s win over Cumbernauld Colts later in the day, this defeat left the Borders side rock bottom of the Lowland League.
After a few early chances the opener arrived on 26 minutes. Jordan Tapping finished from 5 yards after a free kick had hit the post.
East Stirlingshire could have been awarded a few penalties which would have made the second period a formality.
If the visitors had been disappointed in those penalty decisions then they only had to wait 5 minutes for an penalty award in the second half.
Brown was fouled in the box and it was left to Andy Rodgers to convert from the spot.
This convincing win was secured on 70 minutes with Rodgers helping himself to pass before Barr slotted home.
The major talking point from this fixture was East Stirlingshire only scoring three. The post and bar stopped some efforts but the former SPFL side proved that they are still a force to be reckened with even where they are now 11 points off the top of Lowland League table pace setters.
dalbeattie star 0-1 bonnyrigg rose
By Ronan Alexander
A late winner from Kerr Young gave Bonnyrigg Rose a crucial three points against a stubborn Dalbeattie Star side.
The first half was goalless with the visitors probing around Dalbeattie’s box but they defended admirably and tried to hit the title chasers on the counter attack.
On 68 minutes came a big turning point when Dalbeattie striker Anderson was red carded for a high foot having already been booked.
More chances began to appear for Bonnyrigg byt Star stood firm until six minutes from time.
All Star’s hard work was undone from a corner as Young headed home for a vital three points.