Spartans boss Dougie Samuel believes some of his squad are struggling to deal with the expectations that come with playing for the Ainslie Park club.
Already 19 points adrift of runaway Lowland League leaders East Kilbride, Spartans crashed out of the South Region Challenge Cup on Saturday to East of Scotland outfit and city rivals Tynecastle.
Louis Swanson’s sublime free-kick three minutes before the interval – Tynie’s goalscorer later being sent off for a second bookable offence – proved to be the difference at Saughton Enclosure.
After a below-par first-half showing from the visitors, Spartans finally exerted some pressure in the final third during the second half. However, Ross McMullen in the Tynecastle goal wasn’t tested nearly enough for Samuel’s liking.
“We came here as favourites and rightly so but right now we’re struggling with that tag,” explained Samuel. “There is a lot of expectation playing for this football club. And, for whatever reason, whoever we play against, they treat it like a cup final. But that’s the challenge we face and we have to rise to that.
“I was hugely disappointed with our first-half performance. I think we’ve got a few players who are off colour just now and lacking a bit of confidence and that showed. I think we deserved something out of the game on our second-half showing but equally they played really well first half and probably feel they deserved it. We didn’t have nearly enough shots on goal and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit for the way they defended their 18-yard box.”
Spartans welcome East Kilbride to the Capital on Saturday before a trip to Ladbrokes Championship outfit St Mirren in the third round of the William Hill Scottish Cup the following weekend. The Paisley side’s manager Jack Ross was in attendance on Saturday to run the rule over the opposition.
We’ve got Preston tomorrow night and East Kilbride on Saturday, two very important league games before then.The St Mirren game is a totally different affair. You’re going there to test yourself against higher opposition and enjoy the experience.”
Tynie were fast out of the blocks and almost seized the initiative in the fifth minute when Pieyam Khosrowpour rounded Spartans No.1 Blair Carswell only for his cutback to be intercepted by Chris Townsley.
Spartan’s Jack Beesley fired in a corner and Michael Herd powered in a header which was inadvertently blocked en route to goal by team-mate Jamie Dishington.
The hosts deservedly went ahead in the 42nd minute through a majestic piece of skill. Swanson was scythed down by Townsley 20 yards from goal and the little midfielder picked himself up and dusted himself down before sending a bending shot away from Carswell and into the far corner.
Spartans thought they had equalised midway through the second half but it took a terrific point-blank save from McMullen to deny Dishington’s glancing header.
Swanson was shown a second yellow card 12 minutes from time after an altercation with Eddie Malone but Tynie held firm to progress.
Home manager Stevie Vinter singled out praise for his matchwinner saying: “Louis has got that in his locker. He’s been unlucky in football with injuries and not getting the breaks. He was wonderful on Saturday so we’re delighted for him.
“I thought in the first half we were brilliant and my only complaint was that we weren’t further ahead. When you’re playing a team like the quality Spartans have, one is never a comfortable lead. Even when we went down to ten me we defended well and were well organised. Hopefully a few people have taken notice of this result.”
Tynecastle: McMullen, Ross, McIntyre, Ferguson, Catlin, Robertson, Manson (Mitchell 79), Malcolm, Khosrowpour (Brydon 85), Crabbe, Swanson. Subs: Cockburn, Brkic, Cunnison, Muttitt.
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Townsley, Stevenson, Thomson, Dishington, Ward, Comrie (Malone 72), Maxwell, Beesley (Watson 62), Hay. Subs: Brown, Tolmie, Gabiola, Rae, Mair.