A second-half hat-trick from Jack Beesley, Spartans’ dynamic attacking midfield player, helped the Ainslie Park outfit secure a place in the third round of the Scottish Cup, where they will face Barry Ferguson’s Clyde.
Beesley’s three goals were all of the highest calibre and included a 25-yard free-kick, a 35-yard volley and a late penalty.
The first half saw Spartans dominate possession although they failed to capitalise on the numerous chances created and found themselves trailing to a well struck effort from East Kilbride’s leading goalscorer, Joao Victoria.
Craig Stevenson missed the target, Alasdair MacKinnon headed wide and Errol Douglas scooped the ball over the bar before Willie Bremner shot wide. However, Douglas did bring parity to the game with an angular drive from 16 yards.
Early in the second half Spartans’ goalkeeper Kevin Swain produced a breath-taking double save to deny Liam Gormley and shortly afterwards Spartans were awarded a free-kick some 25 yards out. Beesley stepped up to place an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Only three minutes later, in the 61st minute, he received the ball just inside the East Kilbride half, cut inside, and hit a 35-yard shot like a speeding bullet beyond the startled Jacob Kean.
The outcome was sealed only two minutes later when Keith McLeod scored with his third shot in as many seconds after two rebounds. The icing was put on the cake almost on the final whistle when Bremner was brought down in the penalty box and the confident Beesley fairly hammered the spot kick into the roof of the net.
Beesley summed up the game and his performance when he said: “We are all absolutely delighted, especially with East Kilbride being one of the toughest teams we have faced over the past two years and that is the first time we have beaten them.
“During the first half I always felt that we were on top in terms of chances created. We had lots of the ball in their box but we could not put it away. However, I thought we were magnificent in the second half.
“My second goal was definitely the furthest out goal I have ever scored. I cut inside and 99 times out of 100 the ball would have gone over the bar or out for a throw-in, but this time it flew into the top corner.
“The Scottish Cup is the one trophy we don’t have any realistic chance of winning so every round we play in the competition is a bonus. By playing against Clyde in the next round it will give us the chance to play a team from a higher level which is where we want to be in the future.”
Douglas Samuel, the Spartans manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted for the players who have worked really hard this season. We have had to cope with a lot of adversity and that was the biggest game of our season so far and we came through it with flying colours.
“We went in at half-time feeling confident because we created so many good scoring opportunities, but our final ball or our attempt on goal lacked a wee bit of quality.
“We have seen Jack score goals like these on several occasions, so we know that he has the ability to do it but to do it on a day when it really matters is special and I think that in the second half he was unplayable. It was a comprehensive win which will give us confidence as we try and improve our performances in the Lowland League.
“It will be nice to play Clyde on our home pitch when there is no pressure on us and we can test ourselves against better quality opposition.”
East Kilbride: Kean, Home, McLaughlin (O’Hanlon 64), Howie, Buchanan, Lachlan, Gormley, O’Hara, Victoria, Hastings, Giblin. Subs: Martin, Templeton, Brady, Mitchell, McGuiness, Gordon.
Spartans: Swain, Nixon, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, MacKinnon, Stevenson, Beesley, Grant (Thomson 70), Douglas (Brown 75), McLeod (O’Donnell 83), Bremner. Subs: Beacher, Muhsin, Carswell.
Referee: David Munro