SPARTANS EOS boss Alex Cunningham was left gobsmacked at the inability of referee Stephen Allan to award a last-minute winner for the Ainslie Park side against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale – and was then devastated even further when LTHV ran up to the other end of the pitch to score their own winner.
The two sides were locked together at two-apiece going into the final minutes of Saturday’s Central Taxis Premier Division clash when Spartans’ David Stewart swept a shot from the edge of the box into the top right-hand corner of the net, only for Lothian goalkeeper Kevin Swain to then gather the ball and play on. Swain then punted the ball downfield to Willis Hare, who netted the game’s killer goal just seconds after Stewart thought he won the tie for Spartans.
Cunningham revealed: “I’ve been involved in football a long time, but never in an incident like this. It’s not a case of Lothian cheating, but of the referee not spotting that the ball had crossed the line. For whatever reason, he has not given the goal and Lothian played on.”
Cunningham was hailing Stewart’s seemingly decisive strike while Spartans’ players gathered around the home dugout to celebrate, only for the bizarre news to be relayed to him that the game had continued without stoppage. Hare’s goal seconds later not only condemned Spartans to a 3-2 defeat, but ensured that Lothian leapfrogged their opponents in the top tier table.
Managers of both teams agreed that a draw would have proved a fair result. Lothian boss Kevin Twaddle said: “The match was a great advert for East of Scotland football. I thought a draw would have been a fair result as they had a clear goal not given, but credit to our boys – they never gave in. It was great to see Willie score a wonderful solo goal.”
Meanwhile, Ross McNeil admitted his Civil Service Strollers side lacks quality after they were humbled 3-0 at home to Coldstream.
“It’s another bad defeat for us,” McNeil said. “The game could have gone either way. The positives for us were that we created eight good chances and should have put a few of them away. I can’t fault my players’ effort, but, at the minute, we lack a bit of quality all over the park.”
Derek Riddel, whose Leith Athletic side fought back to draw 1-1 at home to Edinburgh University as Christopher Barrie’s third goal in three games cancelled out Finn Daniels-Yeoman’s opener for Uni, was critical of his opponents’ tactics.
“It’s not easy to create chances when you’re facing a wall of ten players playing across the 18-yard box,” said Riddel. “Uni’s tactics can only be described as anti-football.”
Uni coach Derek Ogunro praised his players for following the game plan almost perfectly, saying: “The team executed the tactics very well despite it going against our usual style. But for one lapse in concentration, we would have taken three points.”
In the First Division, Easthouses Lily won 3-1 at Hawick Royal Albert thanks to goals by Steven Campbell, Rory McKinnon, and Paul McDermott, and Hibs thrashed Eyemouth United 7-1 as Jamie Beaton hit a hat-trick.
Chris Smith’s Heriot-Watt University claimed a 3-1 win at home to Craigroyston in the South Challenge Cup second round, with Hogni Helguson’s strike and a brace of Mikey Connor penalties accounting for the hosts’ tally. Tynecastle lost 4-1 at University of Stirling in the same competition.
In the King Cup first round, Ormiston went down 5-3 at Selkirk.