THE Spartans secured their place in the semi-finals of the IME Cup with a 5-3 win on Sunday against fellow Division 1 side Victoria Park Rangers.
The wind threatened to hamper the group stage game at Ainslie Park, but thankfully both sides adapted to the conditions and produced a goal-fest.
It took only three minutes for the home side to take the lead. A corner kick was floated in and, after his first attempt at goal was blocked, centre-back Blair Watson made no mistake the second time as he found the net through a crowded penalty area.
Spartans striker Paul Moncur then had Victoria Park goalkeeper Michael Galinsky worried as he narrowly missed the crossbar with a thumping shot from 20 yards.
The hosts were looking dangerous and extended their lead after 28 minutes. Malcolm Monkhouse collected the ball just inside the box and, with the outside of his left foot, stroked the ball into the top corner for 2-0. Spartans were rampant and the third goal arrived ten minutes later, Gavin Cattanach meeting Monkhouse’s corner and heading into the back of the net despite Galinsky getting a hand to it.
Victoria Park then got themselves back into the game on the stroke of half-time. Alistair Fowler was played into the box and he dispatched his shot comfortably past home goalie Dean Philp’s right side.
Moncur got his second of the day ten minutes into the second period as his turn-and-shot made its way into the back of the net following a corner. Spartans inflicted more misery on the visitors four minutes later as midfielder Gareth Baxter met a pass from the right and neatly side-footed home from 18 yards.
The goals didn’t stop there, however, as firstly Keith Harper fed Fowler for his brace from close range. Then, with minutes remaining, Fowler grabbed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, but there was no time for a fairytale comeback despite the woodwork being hit and the game finished up at 5-3.
Links United see off Alba
Goals from Colin Kay and Andrew McGhee ensured Links United knocked Edinburgh United Alba out of the Ian McDonald Cup. The second round tie at Broughton High School 3G was fairly plain sailing for the home side, despite them being rooted to the bottom of Lothian West.
United took the lead as Jordan Young’s corner was converted, at the second attempt, by Colin Kay in the box.
The hosts made it two with a quick break. Scott Ross side-stepped two Alba players in midfield and played an excellent ball through the middle of the centre backs – finding Andrew McGhee, who beat the offside trap to slot between the goalkeeper’s legs from the edge of the danger area.
Links United manager Gary McCardle said: “We were comfortable in the win and it was good to go through. It was extra special as one of our best midfielders, Stuart Fenwick, had to be a stand-in goalkeeper and got a clean sheet.”
South Gyle into last 16
South Gyle progressed from the last 16 of the Logan Cup with a 3-1 win away to North Merchiston Vale at Harrison Park.
The victors refused to concede to the harsh weather and they got the opening goal in the first half. Dean Cunningham produced a great through ball to Sean McAllister, whose finish matched the assist.
Despite Cunningham missing a penalty before half-time, South Gyle kicked on as Scott Riddell doubled their advantage. Dean Anderson found David Robertson on the left, who fed in Riddell to smash home low into the corner.
Keith McIntyre saw red for South Gyle with a late challenge on a North Merchiston player, whose retaliation earned him an early bath also.
North Merchiston found a way back soon after, as Stephen Notman scored a header from a routine corner kick to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
But Johnny Niven made sure it was the away side staying in the hat for the next round as he sealed the victory, his 15-yard effort making it 3-1.
North Merchiston’s Scott Newby said: “Football-wise we were the better side, but can’t disagree that South Gyle deserved to win as they took their chances.”
South Gyle’s Robert Marshall said: “It was difficult conditions, but it is probably the best we’ve played in a few games. We did enough to earn the win and get into the next round.”