SPARTANS FC Youth 13s powered their way through to the next round of the Stewart Brien Cup after coming from a goal down to defeat Real Fife FC 6-4 at Edinburgh Academy.
The visitors got off to a scintillating start, finding the net after just ten seconds but failed to make this count as Spartans’ superiority in front of goal proved decisive.
Spartans coach Liam Cooper was pleased to get through the tie but is hoping for better performances this season from his young side.
He said: “The boys struggled today and we can normally play a lot better than we did. I think we picked up in the second half and had more on the bench to strengthen the team as well. But we’re happy we’ve got through into the next round so we will take it from there.”
The match sprang into life straight from kick-off as Real Fife worked their way to the edge of the Spartans penalty area and Anthony McDonald’s shot, which should have been an easy take for goalkeeper Craig Wylie, bobbled over the line despite Wylie’s attempts to recover the loose ball.
Spartans should have been back on level terms when Matthew Brown’s turn of pace not only outstretched the Real defence, but goalkeeper Andre Galloway also failed to collect. But with the goal at his mercy, Brown somehow knocked the ball wide of the target.
However, Spartans were back on level terms moments later. A deep cross from the right bobbled through to the back post and the unfortunate Liam Bell put the ball into his own net.
Spartans were now beginning to find their feet and deservedly grabbed the lead after 15 minutes. A wonderful passing move from back to front involving Aaron Cowper-Barrie and Alistair Hogg provided David Whalen with the simplest of tasks in dispatching the ball home from two yards.
Spartans added a third before the half-time interval when a corner from the left was insufficiently dealt with by the Real defence and Taylor Gillon added his name to the scoresheet with a close-range finish.
The encouragement within the Real camp as they returned to the field certainly paid off as they grabbed two goals in quick succession to level the tie. Firstly, Aaron Laird won the race to a long ball ahead of sub goalkeeper Mitchell Haddow and knocked in with ease, before the same player grabbed his second as the Spartans defence showed their fraility with a poke into the far corner from inside the six-yard box.
The game was then turned on its head once again when Spartans regained the initiative from a sumptuous free-kick. Real’s Lewis Whyte was adjudged to have handled the ball just outside his own penalty area and up stepped Cowper-Barrie to curl a great effort high into the net to put his side 4-3 ahead.
Despite Real still looking a threat going forward, the next goal was always going to be crucial and it was the hosts who grabbed it. Brown’s rasping drive brought out a good block from the Real No.1, but he was unable to hold and Brown followed up to restore his side’s two goal advantage.
Spartans weren’t finished there, however, and notched a sixth strike when Whalen’s shot crept in from an angled shot despite Bell’s attempts to clear.
Real did find a tenth goal of this end-to-end encounter when Michael McIntyre popped up at the back post to head in from Luke Fleming’s accurate cross, but it proved too little too late to lauch another comeback.
Spartans FC Youth: Craig Wylie, Taylor Gillon, Jay Corner, David Whalen, Bobby Balloch, Josh Slow-Clayton, Aaron Cowper-Barrie, Andrew Dempster, Robbie Lamb, Alistair Hogg, Matthew Brown, Mitchell Haddow, Keiran Connell, Kalvin Nicol, Jamie Balloch.
Real Fife FC: Andre Galloway, Luke Fleming, Aaron Laird, Jack Smith, Liam Bell, Anthony McDonald, Connor MacGregor, Jack McDonald, Liam Kelly, Jackson Lee, Lewis Whyte, Andrew Malcolm, Michael McIntyre, Gavin Cowie, Jed Muir.