SPARTANS REDS 15s edged out Division 2 opponents Blackhall Athletic 15s 3-2 in a highly entertaining encounter at Meggetland.
After a lacklustre opening five minutes, the game sparked into life when Spartans took the lead. Jake Kelly received the ball on the left-hand side before dribbling past three opponents and cutting into the box. At a tight angle, he smashed the ball into the far corner to put his side 1-0 up. It was a brilliant individual piece of trickery and a fine finish.
The visitors had a good opportunity to double their advantage soon after but Robbie Lamb’s first-time shot from the edge of the box flew just wide.
Blackhall began settling into the game and after some patient link-up play, they came close to levelling when Corann Henderson turned and shot from outside the box to force a good fingertip save from Spartans goalie Craig Wylie.
Henderson had another great chance before the break when he was unmarked from a corner but his header went wide. Blackhall continued searching for an equaliser after half-time and almost found it through Josh Bridgeman. Rory Marsden played an aerial ball upfield which Bridgeman ran on to. With just the keeper to beat, he wasn’t able to find the back of the net and instead the ball sailed wide. It was to prove a costly miss in the context of the game as two minutes later Spartans doubled their lead in fortuitous circumstances. A corner lofted in by Keiran Brydon was inadvertently turned in by Blackhall’s Marsden in the six-yard box.
Despite the setback, the home side remained positive and didn’t give up. From a corner, Henderson made himself available and got up well to head in and reduce Spartans’ lead. Blackhall’s tails were up as they went searching for an equaliser, but the Spartans rearguard were holding firm in response.
On the hour mark, however, Spartans almost clinched the game. Charlie Mack received a short corner before crossing to the far post but Kelly could only head the ball over the bar.
The home side seemed increasingly desperate to at least take a point and continued to press in search of an elusive goal. Henderson almost netted when he burst down the left and whipped in a looping cross which almost caught Brandon Shennan off guard, but the substitute keeper did just enough to tip the ball out for a corner. With five minutes left Blackhall thought they had snatched a point when a magnificent strike by Henderson from 20 yards out flew into the top corner.
However, Spartans were not to be denied. They used their rolling subs to great effect by bringing Jake Kelly back on and just seconds later he ran on to a ball over the top and fired the winner past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Spartans Reds 15s: Brandon Shennan, Robbie Foster, Daniel Munro, Daniel Harkins, Robbie Lamb, Liam Philp, Sam Brown, Keiran Brydon, Charlie Mack, Jake Kelly, Finn Ireland, Cameron Garland, Jamie Buchanan, Aaron Cowper-Barrie, Craig Wylie.
Blackhall Athletic 15s: Thomas Bald, Corann Henderson, Rory Marsden, Adam Burke, Joe Penman, Lewis Brodie, Jake Mitchell, Josh Bridgeman, Louis Semple, Scott Miller, Scott Palmer, Jack Stobie.