A SECOND-HALF turnaround at the Pennypit gave Spartans a 2-1 Lowland League win over Preston Athletic.
Preston goalkeeper Sean Brennan – who joined from Hibs before the game on a season-long development loan – had to look sharp to tip Paul Sludden’s well-struck volley over.
Taylor Aitchison almost had Preston ahead three minutes before the break with an audacious chip that came back off the bar with Spartans keeper Blair Carswell helpless. Willie Bremner then headed Kevin Motion’s cross wide from four yards.
Willie Kirk’s side were on the front foot after the restart but sub Jack Beesley almost gave Spartans the lead against the run of play, his effort from 18 yards hitting the bar.
The home side then took the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Aitchison went clear on the right before squaring to Paul Devlin, the captain steadying himself before poking the ball home.
It took a fingertip save from Brennan to tip Beesley’s shot wide minutes four minutes later. The winger made no mistake with 11 minutes to go, though, sweeping home from close range to level.
Spartans completed the turnaround on 82 minutes, Sludden firing home via an indirect free-kick from six yards after Brennan was adjudged to have picked up a passback.
Preston Athletic: Brennan, L Todd, O’Hara, J Todd (Gibson 68), Bruce, P Devlin, McIntyre (Trialist 76), S Devlin, Martin, Aitchison, M Todd.
Spartans: Carswell, Nixon (Stevenson 70), Cennerazzo, Malone, MacKinnon, Brown, Sludden, Grant, Douglas (Henretty 57), Bremner (Beesley 67), Motion.
• LEITH ATHLETIC stunned Lowland League leaders Edinburgh City to claim a place in the Image Printers Cup final.
Following a 2-2 draw after extra-time at Meadowbank 3G, the Central Taxis Premier Division leaders triumphed 3-1 on penalties.
Nico Gibson’s 31st minute screamer was cancelled out by Leith’s John Ferguson’s second-half leveller to force extra-time.
Ross Allum then put City ahead with a free-kick, only for Ferguson to equalise again to take the semi-final to penalties.