Spartans’ Craig Stevenson insists he and his team-mates won’t give up hope of catching top-of-the-table East Kilbride despite trailing the South Lanarkshire side by ten points in the Lowland League.
The midfielder netted his side’s first in the 2-0 win over arch-rivals Whitehill Welfare on Saturday to capitalise on Kilby’s slip up the previous evening when they lost at home to Cumbernauld Colts.
And despite the deficit, the 24-year-old, who recently clocked up 100 appearances for the Ainslie Park club, believes their opponents can be caught.
“We know East Kilbride are far ahead and have that gap over us but we won’t give up,” he said. “Yes they’re going to have to drop a few points but if they do we’ll be there waiting. We’ve just got to take each game as it comes. If we can’t win the league then we’d at the very least like to finish second.”
Stevenson was satisfied with his afternoon’s work that saw him open the scoring through a neat finish after 63 minutes before Jack Beesley put the result beyond doubt with little more than 13 minutes remaining.
“The gaffer had drummed it into us that in the last two seasons or so our home form has been brilliant so we wanted to end the year on a high,” the former Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale player explained. “Our passing wasn’t great in the first half but the chances were there, we just didn’t take them. It’s always good to score as well so I’m happy with that. They beat us earlier on in the season so that’s got one back on them as it’s always great to win a derby.”
The home side were first to threaten in the 15th minute when Jack Hay latched on to a superbly weighted pass from Eddie Malone and from the striker’s cross, Keith Murray’s first-time effort came back off the underside of the bar.
The visitors responded, though, and Connor Brydon’s audacious volley flashed wide soon after. Spartans really should have taken the lead through Alan Brown. However, the former Whitehill star could only find the hands of goalkeeper Bryan Young having been freed by Murray.
Whitehill were lucky to go in at the break level after youngster Charlie Denton completely misjudged Michael Herd’s cross but Hay somehow screwed wide from a couple of yards with just Young to beat.
Beesley came even closer right on the stroke of half-time but was denied by the post after Young had parried Herd’s initial effort.
Stevenson, though, showed great composure to put Dougie Samuel’s men in front 18 minutes into the second when another error by Denton allowed the midfielder a free run and he guided his effort into the far corner.
Kerr Dodds’ late lunge on Brown caused a bit of a melee amongst both sets of players – the Whitehill No.8 subsequently booked for his actions.
Beesley, however, was left in acres of space to wrap up the three points with a cool finish before substitute Dylan Weldon was six inches away from reducing the deficit as he couldn’t get his toe on a Brydon cross.
Whitehill boss David Bingham said: “I’m disappointed how we lost the game but I thought we showed great discipline and maturity with our performance. It bodes well for the second half of the season as we’ll still got a few to come back into the squad again.”
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Malone (Greenhill 70), Tolmie, Thomson, Brown, Beesley (Mair 88), Dishington, Murray, Stevenson, Hay (Comrie 82). Subs: Rae, Ward, Watson, Townsley.
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Williams, Manson, Dodds, Brydon, Kerr (Weldon 46), Chalmers, Swann, Denton, Gormley, Russell (Dowie 76). Subs: Jardine, Healy.