Spartans cruised in to the William Hill Scottish Cup third round with a 5-0 home win over Inverness Clachnacuddin, but manager Dougie Samuel’s immediate thoughts in the aftermath were for visiting goalkeeper Douglas MacLennan.
A collision with Davie Greenhill just after half-time left the keeper with suspected neck injury that required a stoppage of 40 minutes, as the players left the field until an ambulance arrived.
Doubles from Greenhill and Jamie Dishington followed Blair Atkinson’s early opener and secured Spartans a home tie against Fraserburgh in the third round, but the well being of MacLennan was of more importance.
“It’s quite distressing when you see someone down for quite a period of time, especially when it’s the neck or the back,” said Samuel. “There was a period when I thought the game might not resume actually, but let’s hope he’s okay.
“I think we started the game really well. The early goal from Blair helped settle everybody down, but I thought some of the attacking play was first class. Our movement was excellent, we moved the ball really well and we could have gone even more ahead.
“The quality of the goals was top drawer today. Davie’s first goal was a team goal and it was phenomenal. It was a fantastic set from Ross [Allum] obviously, but what a finish from Davie and I thought we gave a masterclass today.”
The first arrived after Atkinson skipped inside one defender before nutmegging another and planting a smart finish past MacLennan in to the bottom corner.
If that was impressive, the second was even better. Craig Stevenson’s pin point diagonal was cushioned down by Allum into Greenhill’s path, who caught it full on the volley to send it flying in to the same corner past the helpless MacLennan.
“It’s probably the cleanest strike I’ve ever had,” admitted the midfielder. “It’s sat nicely and I’ve thought why not? It’s one of those where you don’t hit it cleanly and it goes anywhere or you catch it sweet and you know the minute you’ve hit it, it’s in the back of the net.”
The hosts ended the game as a contest before half-time with a third. Michael Herd’s cut-back found Greenhill and while his first effort was blocked, the rebound fell nicely and he found the bottom right corner yet again with the aid of a slight deflection.
The second half had barely got going before MacLennan’s unfortunate injury, and Greenhill admitted it’s difficult to get going again after such an incident. “It’s hard, especially when you’re sitting in the changing room then you’re up again and legs are a bit heavy,” he explained. “It’s the same for them though, but when we started running again and got the blood flowing, we were good.”
If the theme of the day off the park, at least amongst the travelling fans, was fancy dress, on it was quality goals. Spartans’ fourth nearly as impressive as the first two, Dishington showing good feet before lashing the ball high past sub ‘keeper Paul MacLennan.
He then claimed a straightforward fifth for Spartans, turning home Scott Wilson’s corner unchallenged in stoppage time.
It was another impressive display in what has been a fine start to the season for Spartans, who face Fraserburgh in the next round. “We’ve made a good start and that’s six clean sheets in a row,” said Samuel.
“The team’s enjoying scoring goals at one end and keeping them out at the other. We’re playing with confidence, there’s a good feeling in the camp and I think we’ve got a better balance this year. There’s more to come but the signs are encouraging.”
Spartans: Stobie, Herd, Brown (Guthrie 65), Tolmie, Thomson, Greenhill, Atkinson (Wilson 67), McFarland, Allum (Khutisushvili 72), Stevenson, Dishington.
Clachnacuddin: D MacLennan (P MacLennan 47), MacIntosh, Finnis, Webb, Grant (Lawrie 45), MacAskill, Robertson, Stark, Morrison (Shewan 45), Leslie, D MacLennan.
Referee: W Watson.