SPARTANS aim to end their season on a high when they face Berwick Rangers reserves in the final of the King Cup at St Mark’s Park tomorrow.
Spartans failed to collect any silverware last season and tomorrow is their only opportunity this season to put a trophy in the Ainslie Park boardroom. The last time they had a barren two-season spell was last century when, in 1998-1999 and 1999-2000, they did not lift any honours.
This is a statistic that manager Douglas Samuel does not want repeated and he said: “Everyone is looking forward to this King Cup final. It is our last opportunity to win some silverware this season and I think we have made progress on a number of fronts, but clearly the most visible indicator of whether we have progressed is if we can deliver some trophies.
“Psychologically it would be great for everybody connected with the club to see us lift a trophy on the back of a trophyless season last year. We are keen to avoid that happening in consecutive seasons.”
Spartans lost the Central Taxis League Cup final last weekend when they were beaten 2-0 by Edinburgh City and Samuel added: “I think that the first 15 minutes when we conceded two goals was reflective of recent games in that we were punished for a couple of individual errors.
“That put us on the back foot, although I thought in the second half the players’ application and work ethic was fantastic, albeit on the day we lacked a little bit creativity and penetration in the final third.
“In the last three weeks we have been heavily punished for individual errors, but we have not had many breaks in these games. I don’t want to make excuses because we have tried to stay positive all season and we’ll stay positive to the end.”
Turning his attention to Berwick, Samuel added: “Berwick could pull out of the hat any first-team player so if they do – fine – we will just try to beat the 11 players in front of us. We’re really looking forward to going to St Mark’s Park, which in recent times has been the best playing grass surface in the league. We are looking forward to getting the opportunity of trying to get the ball down, passing it and hopefully end our season on a high.
“First and foremost, I will be telling the players to enjoy the game and to go and express themselves. I want them to have the courage to get on the ball and show their talents. If they can do that and marry them to a great work ethic on the day then it will take a good performance to beat us.”
Samuel has Daniel O’Donnell, Kevin Motion and Robbie Manson all available after missing out because of suspensions and other commitments last Saturday, although Willie Bremner, Mark Whatley and Sean Wringe are all unavailable tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Berwick Rangers reserves manager and former Spartans Juniors team manager, Mark Lamb, is also looking forward to ending the season on a high. “It is probably unique for me being a manager of a reserve team that I am not judged on how many trophies we win or where we finish in the league but what and how many players we get through to the first team,” he said.
“So, tomorrow, I am actually going along to enjoy the occasion with the opportunity of playing against one of the best teams in the East of Scotland League. When I was at Spartans Juniors there was an expectation that we would win trophies and it was a fantastic environment to be in. I loved my time at Spartans and it’s great to be playing a team of that calibre. I have a great admiration for Douglas Samuel and for what he does.”
The action kicks off at St Mark’s Park at 2.30pm with admission prices adults £5.00 and concessions £3.00.