Lowland League round-up: Keith Murray returns to haunt Preston

Keith Murray scored twice for Spartans
Keith Murray scored twice for Spartans
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Students pass test against Shire

Preston Athletic 0

Spartans 2

Keith Murray returned to the Pennypit with Spartans after spending the final couple of months of 2016 on loan at Preston and stunned the Panners with two second-half goals to settle this match. With heavy under-foot conditions, passing football was at a premium but the visitors looked the most likely in the opening stages and Murray was at the heart of everything, his header from close range well-saved by Craig Pennycuick, then a shot from 25 yards skimming the top of the bar. Pennycuick then punched a corner against Murray but, fortunately for Preston, the ball spun just wide. Mark Smith came closest for the Panners with an effort that Blair Carswell tipped over and then Stuart Ritchie drove just wide from the resultant corner. Moments into the second period, a rushed clearance by Pennycuick fell straight to Murray, who drove forward and slotted home from the edge of the area. On the hour, Murray made it two, touching home from close range after Pennycuick spilled a low cross into his path. Late on, Preston’s Kenny Erskine headed off the line from a Paul Thomson chip and Spartans keeper Carswell gathered a deflected Ritchie strike.

Preston Athletic: Pennycuick, Erskine, R.Cochrane, McLeod, Cowan, Ritchie, Carter, Trialist (Jardine), Henderson (J Cochrane), Smith, Inglis (Young). Subs: Baines, Law, Reid, Lawson.

Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Mair (Ward), Thomson, Tolmie, Greenhill, Beesley (Maxwell), Comrie (Dishington), Murray, Brown, Stevenson. Subs: Gabiola, Townsley, Gilpin.

East Stirlingshire 1

Edinburgh University 1

The home side was looking to extend its run of nine games without defeat (eight wins and one draw) but faced a University side in determnined mood. Indeed, the students created early openings with Jack Guthrie testing goalkeeper Barclay and then shooting wide when well-placed. They had an escape, though, when Irvine chested a cross past his own keeper Tait but was relieved to see the ball strike the post and rebound into the goalie’s arms. A minute before half-time, Shire took the lead when Rodgers’ free-kick was headed home at the far post by Connor Greene. Edinburgh got back on level terms in 51 minutes. Smith’s free-kick was met by Guthrie and his looping header went in off the post. East Stirlingshire dominated the remainder of the half but were denied by good defending and great goalkeeping by Tait. Grant, Brisbane and Rodgers all had good chances for the home side but the students held firm to claim a point.

East Stirlingshire: Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, Greene, A Grant, Faulds (David Grant 77), Rodgers, Ure, Brisbane, Sluddon, Glasgow. Unused subs: Murray, McGuigan, White, Allison, Dolan.

Edinburgh University: Tait, Smith, Berry, Irvine, Verkaik, Daniels-Yeoman, M Scott (Trialist), Ritchie, Guthrie, B Scott, Condie. Unused subs: Trialist, Trialist, Davison.