Spartans hit Vale for five

Keith McLeod, left. Picture: JANE BARLOW

Keith McLeod, left. Picture: JANE BARLOW

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Spartans’ Keith McLeod made it 251 goals for the club in last weekend’s victory over Preston Athletic. On Saturday, he made it 254 after scoring his second consecutive hat-trick in the Ainslie Park side’s resounding 5-0 defeat of Vale of Leithen at Victoria Park.

“Although the pitch was wet, it wasn’t too soft,” Samuel 
observed. “I think our passing in the first 25 minutes was 
excellent, but fair play to Vale as they came back into the game and probably finished the half the stronger side.

“We took stock though and started the second half really well, put the game to bed early and ran out comfortable winners. What else can you say about Keith? I thought our back five were very good defensively, but 
second half our attacking play was pretty special.”

A slick surface greeted both sets of players with driving rain providing a further obstacle, but the visitors adjusted more effectively to the saturated conditions and were playing some intricate football, with Jack Beesley and Mark Whatley impressing early on.

With the home side struggling to make inroads into the Spartans rearguard, McLeod netted his first of another memorable afternoon for the 35-year-old, who dispatched the ball past goalkeeper Graham O’Brien after Kevin Motion’s threaded pass on the 20-minute mark.

Gradually the hosts began to get a foothold in the match and a wonderful switch of play out of defence by James Young put Keith Lough in the clear, but the 
No. 11’s control let him down badly and the chance was squeezed out.

With little respite from the deteriorating weather conditions, Spartans were determined to ensure maximum points would be heading their way and made quick work of settling the outcome early in the second half.

Beesley’s inventive run up the right side took out three of the opposition’s defence and with time and space to deliver a cross, the ball was unconventionally turned into his own net at the near post by the trailing leg of Vale’s Young for 2-0.

Spartans could sense Vale’s vulnerability and went in search of adding a third – which they duly delivered just four minutes later.

McLeod’s snapshot from inside the penalty area was cleared off the line imperiously by Darren Aird, but there was no letup as Motion sent the ball back towards goal and O’Brien couldn’t keep it out as the ball squeezed in at the near post.

A minute later, McLeod again was involved in the thick of the action as his pass played in Willie Bremner, who darted into the Vale penalty box before being upended by the unfortunate Young and a penalty was awarded.

McLeod wasted little time in converting the spot-kick from 12 yards for his second of the match and his side’s fourth on 63 minutes.

The man of the moment then made it five, and with that, a second hat-trick and his eighth strike in just four games.

Vale of Leithen: O’Brien, Aird, McAleavy, Young, McKenzie, R Aitchison, Brigain, Kerr, Gormley (Rennie 58 , Ferguson 68), McCulloch, Lough. Subs: T Aitchison, Hamilton, Callan.

Spartans: Bennett, Grant, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, MacKinnon (O’Donnell 68), Whatley, Brown, Beesley (Atkinson 77), Bremner, McLeod, Motion. Subs: Main, Beacher, Gilpin.