Tempers frayed as Spartans miss out on cup final place

Keith Murray was sent off for Spartans
Keith Murray was sent off for Spartans
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Spartans crashed out of the Lowland League Cup at the semi-final stage after a frustrating 1-0 defeat by Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park.

The crowds were woken up from the slumber in the 25th minute when Keith Murray and Dean Smith exchanged pleasantries on the stand-side boundary wall, earning both sides a 
caution.

Grenta were then forced into an unwelcome change when goalkeeper Craig Murray pulled up injured and was replaced by player/coach Nikki White.

Early in the second half, George Hunter’s cross was headed back towards Aaron Murrell who saw his shot come back off the crossbar.

Midway through the half and it was the hosts who scored what turned out to be the only goal of the game. Smith managed to break the offside trap and despite the best efforts of Blair Carswell, who came to close down the Gretna man, the rebound from the save fell kindly into the path of Conner Graham who tapped home from close range.

The outcome of the game took a further twist in the 75th minute when the referee issued a red card to Murray after the striker looked to manoeuvre himself away from his marker up the touchline.

Substitute keeper White pulled off a save at his near post to deny Hunter as Spartans looked for an equaliser.

Deep into injury time, loud claims for a penalty from the visitors after a handball fell on deaf ears.

Gretna: Murray (White), Wood, Wadge, Casey, Inglis, Addison, Smith, Crozier, Liddell (Anderson 80), C Graham, Norman. Sub (Unused).

Spartans: Carswell, O’Donnell, Dickson, Stevenson, Thomson, Greenhill, Gray, Mair, Murrell, Murray, Hunter. Subs (Unused) Beesley, Gilpin, Gair.