Spartans boss Dougie Samuel lavished praise on his side as they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against Cumbernauld Colts at Broadwood.
The Edinburgh club showed why they’re the Lowland League champions with a performance full of defensive grit and attacking flair.
Jack Smith’s early opener and David Greenhill’s penalty had Spartans in cruise control at the break, although they were unable to add to the scoreline in the second half.
Samuel, who watched on from the stand as he continues to nurse his way back to full health following a heart attack, was pleased his team managed to nullify Colts’ attacking threat.
He said: “It’s another massive three points for us. I don’t think anyone could have any complaints that we went in 2-0 up at half-time. I thought some of our attacking play in the first half was excellent. We moved the ball well, countered at pace and got in behind their defence several times, so I was really pleased with the performance.
“We had opportunities to increase our lead in the second half, but they’re a difficult side to beat and never stop trying. I don’t think many teams will come here this season and take away maximum points.
“Collectively, we defended really well. That’s our second clean sheet in three games and I’m just as happy about that as I am the number of attempts on goal we created.
“Willie Bremner’s pace and power is really important to the way we like to play, and I thought he was fantastic, as was Jack (Smith). He’s had a few times this season where things haven’t quite gone for him, but he’s kept working hard and got his reward tonight.”
The visitors travelled along the M8 without injured duo Alan Brown and Scott Maxwell, while striker Jason Stevens was on holiday. However, they were on the front-foot straight from kick-off, pinning the Colts leaky rear-guard deep inside their own half.
It took just eight minutes for Spartans to break the deadlock. Jamie Dishington picked out Smith in space on the edge of the box and the striker held off his marker before rifling a powerful effort into the bottom corner.
Samuel’s men continued to prove a constant menace going forward as their slick one-touch passing football cut the home side open on numerous occasions.
They were awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark when Smith’s shot was adjudged to have struck the arm of Colts defender Richard Kirwan.
Referee David Lowe had little hesitation in pointing to the spot, much to the frustration of Kirwan who was booked for his remonstrations.
Greenhill slammed the resultant spot-kick high into the top right-hand corner, giving the keeper no chance.
The midfielder was then twice denied his second goal of the match by on-loan Motherwell shot-stopper Jordan Pettigrew, who kept his side in the contest with some fine saves.
This was a Colts side that brought an abrupt end to East Stirlingshire’s impressive 22-match unbeaten run just nine days ago and they did manage to muster a few half-chances of their own, but neither Sean Brown or Scott Davidson could seriously trouble Blair Carswell in the visitors’ goal.
Spartans had further opportunities to increase their lead in the second half through Michael Herd and Dishington but the hard work had already been done.
Elsewhere at the weekend, managerless Whitehill Welfare succumbed to a fifth straight league defeat as they lost 3-0 at home to East Kilbride, while Edinburgh University went down narrowly 1-0 against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Netherdale.
Civil Service Strollers began their defence of the South Region Challenge Cup with an emphatic 9-0 win over South of Scotland league outfit Wigtown and Bladnoch.
Shaun Turnbull’s second-half hat-trick, a Keith Murray brace and further goals from Cameron Muirhead, Steven Froude, Jordan Hopkinson and Mark McConnell’s free-kick completed the rout to seal a smooth passage into the second round.