EOS: Spartans end Leith Athletic’s ten-game run

Leith could celebrate a Keith Murray goal, one of his hat-trick, but it turned out to be heartache for Athletic
Leith could celebrate a Keith Murray goal, one of his hat-trick, but it turned out to be heartache for Athletic
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Leith Athletic’s ten-game unbeaten run in the Central Taxis Premier Division came to an end in controversial circumstances as Spartans EOS became the first side to claim the scalp of the league leaders.

The visitors took the lead after fifteen minutes at Ainslie Park thanks to a Keith Murray strike from near the touchline.

But two quick-fire goals from David Stewart and a header from Andy Howat put Spartans EOS ahead just after the half hour mark before Murray brought Leith back into the match with a lofted effort just before the break.

Murray slotted in a penalty after 55 minutes for his hat-trick after Jordan Beaton was upended, but the talking point of a thrilling encounter came on 80 minutes when Seb Pyda’s header from a Davy Stewart corner header was adjudged to have crossed the line, despite Leith’s appeals to the contrary.

Stewart completed his hat-trick to make it 5-3 as Spartans EOS hit the visitors on the break, and whilst Athletic manager Derek Riddel was sad to see his side’s unbeaten run come to an end, he paid tribute to his opponents.

“To go until the last game of November unbeaten in the league is something we could have never imagined. With the standard of competition in this league, it had to come to an end at some point and I thought Spartans were terrific first half. The fourth goal was obviously the huge turning point as it killed our momentum, I thought the referee was guilty of one or two strange decisions, but that’s football.”

Spartans EOS manager Alex Cunningham reflected on an inspiring win for his side against the league leaders.

“We had a couple of fantastic performances from the players and Derek was very gracious in defeat afterwards. It was a good night for us because the players have always been capable of playing that way and to do it against a top side in Leith makes it even better.”

Easthouses Lily finished the month unbeaten to draw level on points with Leith at the top of the league after a 6-3 win at Stirling University.

Dave McQueenie’s side scored 22 goals in November alone after their latest victory with goals coming from Ally Elliot who netted a double, John Baigrie, Mark Brown and Craig Brown.

Kevin Twaddle hailed Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale’s ‘best performance of the season so far’ as they defeated Coldstream 5-3 at Home Park.

Hutchie have been dogged by inconsistency in recent weeks but the reigning champions turned on the style in the Borders with defender John Williams netting two for the injury ravaged visitors who were missing key players in Sean Wringe and Scott Moffat. Louis Swanson scored with a sublime free-kick with the other two strikes coming from Willis Hare and Kevin Keane.

Tynecastle won a closely fought contest at St Marks Park against Craigroyston, with goals from Jamie Muir and Chris Milligan cancelling out Ross Nisbet’s opener.

In the Image Printers Cup, First Division Heriot-Watt will meet Leith Athletic at Riccarton this weekend after a shock 1-0 win over Civil Service Strollers courtesy of an extra-time goal from Cammy Stephenson.

Watt coach Chris Smith said: “We had an average age of just 20 in our squad today and although we were quite backs to the wall in the first half, I thought we gradually improved in the second half creating a few chances from the set pieces which ultimately lead to our goal late on.

“It was a fantastic effort from all the players against a very experienced Civil Service side and we can look forward to the Leith game with confidence.”

The students are now unbeaten in their last six matches.