Jack Nixon’s first Spartans goal rounded off a comfortable 3-0 victory over Gala Fairydean Rovers but the defender was more pleased with keeping another clean sheet.
Nixon’s second-half strike added to Willie Bremner and Errol Douglas’s goals before the break as Spartans took full advantage of Edinburgh City’s game away to Dalbeattie Star falling victim to the weather, cutting the gap at the top of the table to five points.
Nixon, who joined the club after leaving Stirling University, said: “That’s 12 games unbeaten now, that and the clean sheet is the most important thing.
“That’s three or four weeks since we last conceded – at least since I came here anyway. The boys are playing well – we let it slip a bit for the last half hour in the second-half but we did well apart from that, and obviously getting a goal is good.”
Former Spartans Chris Anderson spurned a great chance to give Gala an early lead. He controlled Dean McColm’s driven pass to leave himself with only Kevin Swain to beat in the Spartans goal, and surely would have done but for a last-ditch intervention from Ally MacKinnon.
The visitors were left to rue their missed opportunity on 13 minutes. Douglas saw his initial shot well blocked by John Dodds, only for the ball to rebound to Willie Bremner, who fired past the grounded keeper to open the scoring.
John Grant was inches from doubling his side’s advantage on 25 minutes. Neat play between Bremner and Kevin Motion teed up Grant for a first-time shot, which he side-footed narrowly wide. The No. 8 had an identical effort well held by Dodds just three minutes later.
The home side looked a threat every time they attacked thanks to their incisive passing and constant movement.
Douglas somehow hit the post with a free header from a Gary Cennerazzo cross five minutes before the break. The big striker made no mistake just seconds later however, latching on to a short back-pass and drilling low past Dodds.
Gala imposed themselves more after the restart, but lacked their hosts’ cutting edge in the final third to really trouble Swain.
Spartans always looked likely to adding to their lead, Alan Brown and Bremner going close, only for the latter’s first-time shot to deflect wide off team-mate Douglas on 56 minutes. Brown should have scored on the hour mark, but could only guide the ball straight into Dodds’ arms.
Nixon eventually ended the tie as a contest with 16 minutes remaining. Motion’s corner evaded a number of bodies in the six yard box before reaching the right back, who took a touch before firing in his first goal since his switch from Stirling Uni. Dougie Samuel’s men should have scored at least a couple more, but a combination of poor finishing and some smart goal keeping from Dodds denied subs Donal Henretty and Jack Beasley, before Brown and Motion were wasteful in stoppage time.
Spartans manager Dougie Samuel said: “It was the first time for a few weeks that it was within our control to close the gap so it was important we took that opportunity.
“First half we played really well and could have gone in more than two up. Second half was a little flat as our standards dropped a wee bit but the last 15 minutes we finished strong. We’re on a good run just now, unbeaten in 12 with four clean sheets in a row so things are going well.”
Spartans: Swain, Nixon, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, MacKinnon, Thomson (Henretty 66), Brown, Grant, Douglas (Beacher 75), Bremner (Beesley 70), Motion.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: Dodds, Stephen, Thompson (Common 32), Miller, McBride, Bonnar, Aitchison (Gibson 46), Anderson, Paliczka, Lough, McColm.