Local heroes: Spartans 17s fight back to secure League Cup glory

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SPARTANS 17s came from behind to beat Edinburgh City 2-1 in the final of the SERYFA Michael Moran Division One League Cup at Ainslie Park.

Despite being outplayed in a first half which saw Edinburgh City go in 1-0 up, Spartans turned things round in the second half.

Spartans’ Ali Mitchell admitted his players were never at the races in the opening 45 minutes, but felt a much improved performance after the break warranted the win.

Mitchell said: “They were by far the better team in the first half so we had to make some drastic changes for the second.

“I thought we deserved it in the end. To get to this cup final, we had to beat Hutchie Vale, Tynecastle and Haddington, so I think it’s deserved.”

City dominated the opening spell and had the first chance when a cross from the right was headed back across goal by Ntando Ntshangase into the path of Kieran McGraw, but he couldn’t keep his header down as he fired over from close range.

Ntshangase was proving a real menace for the Spartans defence, his strength and power proving an asset in attack. It was the striker who had City’s next chance when he collected the ball on the edge of the area, but dragged his shot wide.

Spartans’ Sean Stewart then played a great pass through to Lewis Scott and his shot from a tight angle went inches wide.

At the other end, City’s Jaxon Wishart fired a shot over the bar. But five minutes before the interval, City grabbed the lead they deserved.

A miscued corner from Mark Osborne was fortunate to reach Tinashie Rowana and his near-post flick was turned in from close range by Ntshangase.

Spartans reappeared determined to get themselves back into contention, and went the right way about it by pressuring the City goal almost immediately. Great wing play from Bradley Raiker caused havoc in City’s defence with the ball eventually falling to Lewis Scott whose shot was close to going into the top corner.

Spartans were then awarded a penalty 15 minutes into the second half and it was an opportunity they didn’t waste.

Matthew Underhill’s clever run into the penalty box was brought to a halt by Greg Powrie’s challenge, and Peter Mair stepped up to calmly convert past Craig Moffat.

Spartans wasted little time in finding the net once again, as they gained the lead minutes later. Elliot Mitchell’s in-swinging free-kick was placed expertly into the City six-yard-box and, with the slightest of touches, Mair flicked the ball into the top corner.

There was to be further drama, however, as City were awarded a penalty of their own when Martin Lackie upended Osborne, but, after picking himself up from the turf, his shot from 12 yards was saved as Mark Horsburgh guessed right and turned the ball round the post.

Osborne had one final chance to make amends and force extra time, but his shot from a tight angle, which passed Horsburgh and looked destined to hit the back of the net, was cleared off the line by a last-ditch clearance from Ali Chrisp.

Edinburgh City’s Stuart McGraw was disappointed his side couldn’t build on their lead when in the ascendency, but complimented Spartans on their performance.

He said: “We were the better side in the first half, but they came out in the second a much better team. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be and that’s the way cup football goes. The game was played in good spirits with two evenly matched teams, so it’s disappointing to lose.”

Edinburgh City: Craig Moffat, Greg Powrie, Kieran McGraw, Ruairidh Waddell, Rory McIver, Mark Osborne, Lewis Turkington, Ntando Ntshangase, Stuart Donaldson, Lewis Cockburn, Jaxon Wishart, Tinashie Rowana, Jae Baxter, Daniel Brigain, Fraser Johnston, Ewan Castle.

Spartans FC: Mark Horsburgh, Gregg Veitch, Peter Mair, Bruce Gorrie, Ali Chrisp, Bradley Raiker, Lewis Scott, Harry Moore, Matthew Underhill, Scott Bonar, Scott Murchie, Elliot Mitchell, Martin Lackie, Sean Stewart, Ross Harris, Jesper Price.