Spartans boss Dougie Samuel praised striker Aaron Murrell’s performance as the Ainslie Park side claimed their first win of the season with a 4-2 win over Dalbeattie Star.
Murrell opened the scoring before Craig Stevenson and two from David Greenhill sealed the points despite Tommy Muir and Lee Wells bringing the game back to 3-2 in the second half.
Samuel was delighted with the all-round performance of his young striker.
“I thought Aaron was excellent” he said. “He’s been patient, had a good pre-season and scored a few goals but we’re just trying to work on his match fitness. It’s a big step up he’s made from our under-20s but he’s a young player who’s got the potential to go all the way. If we can keep him for two years we’ll have done well because he has the potential to play at a higher level.
“I thought we played really, really well for an hour today and if it had ended 4-0 I don’t think anybody could have complained. But it just shows you how quickly things can change.”
The hosts started brightly, with new signing Dan Ward believing he was just inches away from opening the scoring. The former Edinburgh Uni man saw his placed finish come back off the inside of the post before turning round and also seeing the offside flag raised.
A similar finish from Murrell gave Spartans the lead on 22 minutes. Stevenson’s flick sent the young striker racing in behind the Dalbeattie back-line and he kept his composure to slot the ball past Darren Martin for his first competitive goal in red and white.
Stevenson then doubled the lead just a minute later. Ward’s low ball across the box was left by Murrell and Stevenson stepped on to the ball and sent a crisp finish across Martin and into the corner. Murrell was close to finishing the game as a contest just ten minutes before the break, collecting Jamie Dishington’s ball to feet, cutting inside and sending a left foot effort narrowly wide.
Murrell was at the centre of Spartans attacking play, his delightful back-heel presenting Eddie Malone with a glorious opportunity, but the left back’s effort was parried at the near post by Martin.
Any hopes of a Dalbeattie fightback seemed to have been extinguished just seven minutes after the interval. Murrell’s shot in the area was well saved low to his left by Martin, but Greenhill was first to react to the rebound, lifting the ball over the grounded keeper to make it 3-0.
Dalbeattie gave themselves a glimmer of hope on 74 minutes. Substitute Muir outmuscled Paul Thomson on the edge of the area and stroked the ball past Blair Carswell in what was only Star’s second attempt of the match until that point. Their third brought another goal two minutes later. The home side failed to clear Lewis Sloan’s corner and ball fell to Wells, who fired under Carswell as the Castle Douglas club looked set for an unlikely comeback.
It never materialised, though, as Spartans made sure a minute from time. Murray released Greenhill on the counter attack, who first put Martin then the covering defender on their backsides before rolling home. Murrell is now hoping to progress after breaking his Lowland League duck.
“It was a good game and I was glad to get my goal” he said. “The transition to the Lowland League has been difficult, they’re a lot stronger and just the last week or so I’ve been finding my feet.”
Spartans: Carswell, Brown, Main (Blaikie 71), Malone, Thomson, Greenhill, Stevenson, Ward, Murrell (Douglas 64), Dishington (Murray 64), Horribine.
Dalbeattie Star: Martin, Dunn, Wilson, Wells, Maxwell, Ferguson (Baxter 75), Steele, McHarrie, Sloan, Todd (Muir 63).