Spartans keeper weighs up pros and cons of B sides after Hearts fixture brought back old Tynecastle memories

Spartans goalkeeper Blair Carswell insists it isn’t all negative having B teams in the Lowland League for promotion-chasing clubs.

By Craig Fowler
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 9:39 am

The 27-year-old stopper played a key part in his side’s first victory of the season in midweek, beating the Hearts colts side 1-0 at Ainslie Park thanks to a first-half own goal from Bailey Dall.

It was the second in an exceptionally difficult four-game run for the Edinburgh side to start the 2022/23 campaign. They lost to Open Goal Broomhill on opening day – who themselves have added an extra edge of competitiveness to the league thanks to sponsorship from Paul Lawwell’s broadcasting company – before running into a trio of matches against Hearts, Celtic and Rangers.

For a club with aspirations of winning the title it’s far from an ideal start. Even though none of the three can win promotion, they still provide a sizeable hurdle for any side wanting to establish a bit of winning momentum.

Spartans goalkeeper Blair Carswell was previously on the books at Hearts. Picture: SNS

On the other hand, in much the same way the youngsters are in the Lowland League to learn and improve, the same goes for the experienced campaigners they’re coming up against.

“Our first four games aren't the easiest, but you've got to play everyone over the course of the season,” Carswell told the Evening News. “It wasn't great on Saturday but it was to bounce back with three points against Hearts. Hopefully we can kick on in the next couple of games and pick up some more points, but we know it's going to be tough. We'll do what we can.

“It's difficult. You want to try and help the young Scottish players come through. It's good in that sense but I feel it's maybe a disadvantage to us guys who have been in the league for a few years and are pushing to get promotion.

“We try to use our experience in these games. It's always an advantage in any game, really. These guys are in this league to learn and gain that experience, whereas we've been there and done that. We know the tricks of the trade. But also for us, playing against full-time players means there's better quality and helps us improve as players as well.”

There was little that could have been improved on Carswell’s performance in the victory over the young Jambos. He made four important saves, including an incredible reflex stop in injury-time to preserve the win.

“You could say I was the standout player, but I never got man of the match! Wee Bradley Whyte got that,” he laughed. “Ah to be honest, these guys who have to run about for 90 minutes probably put in a better shift than me. I'm just there to make the saves.”

There was a bit of familiarity for Carswell going up against the brightest young talents in maroon, seeing as he was in the same boat just over ten years ago.

“I was on the books at Hearts. So that's since I was nine or ten years old until I was 17. I am a Hearts fan as well,” he said.

"I know what it's like for some of these Hearts B players, being in that environment. It can be difficult to adapt to men's football, which obviously is what these guys are trying to learn.”

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