Spartans’ David Greenhill believes the Ferrari Packaging Lowland League title race between themselves and East Kilbride going the distance can only be good the for the division.
Greenhill opened the scoring as Spartans reclaimed top spot with a 3-0 win at Gretna. Jamie Dishington and Guillermo Lamarca added further second half strikes to move Spartans back ahead of Kilby by a single point, who themselves won 1-0 at BSC Glasgow on Friday night.
Both teams now head in to the final week of the season with two games to play and Greenhill believes a first real competitive fight for the championship has benefited everyone.
“Last year it was probably out of our hands just after Christmas time,” he reflected. “We knew East Kilbride were going to run away with it last season and the season before that with Edinburgh City it was about the same time they went away on a run and built up a massive lead.
“This is the first season I’ve been at Spartans when it’s going to go right down to the wire and I think it’s been good for the league. It keeps everybody interested and helps publicise it a wee bit more. The league is improving every year with more teams wanting to join and to win it would be a massive achievement.”
Spartans are desperate to claim their first title since winning the inaugural Lowland League in 2013/14 – typically the year before the Pyramid Play-Offs came in to effect.
Dougie Samuel’s men go to Dalbeattie on Wednesday before hosting East Stirlingshire at Ainslie Park on the final day, knowing two wins will be enough regardless of what East Kilbride do against Whitehill Welfare and Stirling University respectively.
“We know what we’ve got to do and that’s win the next two games,” said Greenhill. “I’m pretty sure East Kilbride will win theirs so it’s a case of us making sure we do it. It’s all in our hands, we’re in a good place but we need to keep winning, regardless of performance, that’s all that matters.”
Given there is so little margin for error, is it possible to enjoy the business end of the season with so much at stake? “After the games, aye!” Greenhill laughed. “Before games there’s naturally that bit of nervousness and anxiety, which is usual.
“Listen, you’d much rather be playing these types of games where you know you’ve got to win to win the league than being mid-table or whatever and struggling to pick up points. We’re enjoying it, we’re in a great place and on a great run. Every game is a cup final.”
Elsewhere, local rivals Civil Service Strollers were the big winners of the day as they put four past Vale of Leithen without reply at Christie Gillies Park.
Mark McConnell gave Alex Cunningham’s men an early advantage before David Churchill doubled their lead just before half-time. Former Edinburgh City midfielder McConnell, on loan from Bonnyrigg Rose, then claimed a brace before Stephen Froude rounded off the scoring.
Edinburgh University lead twice at bottom club Hawick Royal Albert but only left the Borders with a point. David Maskrey gave the Students the lead before Cormac O’Brien levelled. Santeri Kuivalainen looked to have won it for Uni only for David McCaughie to net a second equaliser for Albert with just five minutes to go.
An Andy Rodgers double helped East Stirlingshire to a 3-1 victory over Whitehill Welfare. Josh Morris’ penalty offered some hope to make it 2-1, but Graeme MacGregor restored the two-goal cushion before Stephane Murray was sent off for the visitors.