David Greenhill hailed an important three points for Spartans as they overpowered Edinburgh University to run out 5-0 winners at Ainslie Park.
Two Aaron Murrell penalties, a Paul Thompson strike and Greenhill’s late brace ensured a comfortable afternoon for Dougie Samuel’s side.
Greenhill admitted the three points were welcome after a defeat and draw in their last two games. “It was definitely an important win,” he said. “It was probably the worst we’ve played all season but we’ve come away with a comfortable victory. We’ve still got a lot to improve on and a lot of players missing but it’s a win which was much needed.”
The midfielder has developed a habit of netting late doubles after doing similar against Dalbeattie Star earlier in the season, but Greenhill conceded that his two on Saturday were fairly simple for him. “They’ve just fallen nicely to me in the box. It’s quite straightforward – get yourself in the box and you’ll score goals that way.”
On-loan Hibs kid Conner Duthie was in from the start for Spartans and the debutant produced the first real moment of quality on 25 minutes. Creating space from himself on the edge of the area, he tried his luck with a dipping left-foot shot that had Mark Tait at full stretch to tip the ball over.
It was Duthie who allowed Spartans to take lead just after the half-hour mark. Eddie Malone’s cutback found the No.7 in the centre of Uni’s area, and his shot was blocked at point-blank range by Paul Sutherland, referee Crawford Allan adjudging the defender to have used his hand. Aaron Murrell stepped up and gave Tait no chance from 12 yards. Uni had been moving the ball well up until then and went close shortly after, but David Maskrey’s well struck free-kick was equally well held by Blair Carswell at the other end. Tait then produced an identical save to the one he made earlier, tipping Michael Herd’s powerful drive over.
He was picking the ball out the net seconds later, after Duthie’s attempt following a short corner deflected to Thomson at the back post, and the former Uni man had a simple task in guiding the ball home for his first Spartans goal.
Carswell again had to look sharp seven minutes after the restart, gathering Finn Daniels-Yoeman’s header after Ross Patterson’s excellent delivery.
Uni were given a mountain to climb just before the hour as the hosts extended their lead. Herd was tripped in the box and once more Murrell stepped up and sent Tait the wrong way to make it 3-0.
That killed the game and Spartans were content to see the game out, yet still managed a fourth with two minutes remaining, Greenhill latching on to a long ball and sending a looping header over the on-rushing Tait. The former East Stirlingshire man made it a quick-fire double by tapping home from close range with the last kick of the game after Tait parried a Keith Murray shot.
Greenhill now hopes Spartans can build some momentum and start stringing victories together more consistently. “I think most games so far, aside from probably the Preston game, we’ve been the better team and been on top until we’ve lost a goal. It’s a tighter league this year – everyone’s improved and Edinburgh City are dropping points so everyone’s there for the taking. It’s just a case of getting a run together.”
Spartans: Carswell, Stevenson, Malone, Thomson, MacKinnon, Greenhill, Duthie, Ward (Dishington 7), Murrell (Murray 74), Brown, Herd (Raiker 61).
Edinburgh University: Tait, McMillan (Black 58), McIntosh, Sutherland, MacFarlane, Maegler, McCrory-Irvine (Mair 45), Daniels-Yeoman, Guthrie, Maskrey (Aitken 64), Patterson.