It was a performance reminiscent of Celtic’s thrashing of Hearts six days prior as Spartans, quite simply, outclassed opponents Selkirk to take the honours in their Lowland League clash at Ainslie Park.
The home side’s superiority was reflected in the 11-2 scoreline, but in truth for the Borders side, it really should have been more harrowing.
The first 15 minutes, however, failed to deliver the opening goal, but the telling signs were evident from the off as Spartans attacked the visitors’ goal at will.
Manager Dougie Samuel pinpointed the ruthlessness of his side as most pleasing during a match in which visiting goalkeeper Gregor Amos’ goal was, quite simply, bombarded.
“It was a fantastic team performance and the fact that we spread the goals around was the most pleasing thing of all,” Samuel said in the aftermath of his side’s most emphatic victory of the season.
“It’s probably the first time we’ve gone on and been most ruthless over the 90 minutes, but I think we had that desire to go forward and continue to score goals. I think we are aware that goal difference could be important come the end of the season, so it’s important for us to keep improving our goal ratio.”
With the league now taking a break until February, Samuel admits he will maximise the opportunity to rotate his squad over the next few weeks in the club’s League Cup fixtures. He added: “We’ll try and do our best, but equally in this competition, it’s not top priority for us, so we’ll probably use it as a means to rotate people and give everyone in the squad as many minutes as possible.”
The adverse weather conditions towards the latter part of last week had played havoc with preparations to the playing surface at Ainslie Park, the barrier around the perimeter bearing the brunt after a nearby rooftop had come crashing down near the top corner of the pitch.
However, this didn’t deflect from the hosts’ task in hand and they went about their duties from the first whistle.
Midfielder Mark Whatley flashed a terrific ball across the Selkirk goal in the opening minutes, but there were no takers in a red-and-white shirt to convert the ball home before Jack Beesley’s corner somehow evaded John Grant, who was free in the six-yard box, and the chance was gone.
However, relentless pressure on the Selkirk goal finally paid dividends for Spartans after 16 minutes. A lung-bursting run from winger Alan Brown unlocked the visitors’ rearguard and Keith McLeod was the beneficiary as he took one touch to control before slotting the ball past Amos for the opener.
Three minutes later, one became two as Grant peeled off his marker to glance in Beesley’s corner from the left.
No less than 60 seconds later, McLeod made it three with his second, Beesley once again the architect down the left side as his surging run completely exposed the Selkirk backline and he drove the ball across goal for McLeod to pounce from four yards.
Beesley then deservedly added his name to the scoresheet with Spartans’ fourth as he capitalised on a terrific ball over the Selkirk defence by Grant to finish with ease.
Not to be outdone, McLeod’s striker partner Willie Bremner showed some guile in powering a drive across Amos and into the far corner from the edge of the area to make it five seven minutes prior to the interval.
However, McLeod would have the final say of the opening 45 as he turned his marker before firing under Amos to complete a first half hat-trick and his third in his last six matches.
Inevitably, half-time substitutions were made by the home outfit with both Sean Mushin and Robbie Ross returning to first-team action after ankle and groin injuries respectively, and it was the former who made it seven with his first touch, driving the ball in from the edge of the penalty area.
A Daniel O’Donnell own goal pulled one back for a rather weary looking Selkirk side and despite Philip Addison grabbing a second for the bottom-placed club, further efforts from Jack Beacher, Ross, Bremner and Beesley rounded off an excellent day’s work at the office for the league leaders.
Spartans: Bennett, Grant, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, O’Donnell, Anderson, Brown (Beacher 70), Whatley (Mushin 46), Bremner, McLeod (Ross 46), Beesley. Subs: Gilpin, Motion.
Selkirk: Amos, Battle, Scott (Hlabangana 63), Barr, Milven (Guiney 76), Munro, Addison, Crolla, Scott, Handren (Stephen 76), McManus. Sub: Geddes.