Lowland League: Stephen MacDonald loving it at Spartans after move from America

Stephen MacDonald has scored eight goals so far this season
Stephen MacDonald has scored eight goals so far this season
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American striker Stephen MacDonald believes Spartans took their frustrations out on managerless Gretna 2008 after their enforced absence the previous week cost them valuable ground in the title race.

Dougie Samuel’s side were left without a match after their fixture against Dalbeattie Star was postponed due to weather warnings, which meant the champions slipped nine points behind league leaders East Kilbride. However, any disruption was put firmly to bed as the Ainslie Park outfit stretched their winning run to four games with a 2-1 victory over the Borderers. A third goal in two games for Daniel Smales had given Gretna a half-time lead, but a second-half double from Jamie Dishington sealed a comeback win.

Towering 6ft 2in centre-forward MacDonald has been filling the void left by injured talisman Jack Smith in recent weeks. And the 24-year-old Arizona native is enjoying himself.

“I maybe had a bit of a slow start and wasn’t scoring as much as I would’ve hoped to, but I’ve picked up in recent games and my form has been good,” MacDonald stated.

“I’ve got eight goals so far and my aim is to hit 25 by the end of the season, but anything over 20 would be a bonus. If I can continue to play well and keep my form going, then I think I can make that happen.

“It was unfortunate not to play last Saturday but we’ve on a good winning streak and it’s now about pushing our way back up the table. I don’t think we’ve lost a game at home this season and we want to turn Ainslie Park into a fortress. We’re at a point in our season just now where we can’t afford any more slip ups. Each game is very important, and we need to keep looking upwards.”

MacDonald, who moved to Spartans from Musselburgh Athletic last June, admits he finally feels settled now in Edinburgh after moving his family across from the United States.

The ex-Seattle Pacific University footballer claims his spell with the Olivebank men was a solid grounding and got him used to the physical demands of Scottish football.

He added: “I played college football in the States for four years before moving over. I really liked the way Musselburgh played and we had a good group of players. It was nice to win the East Premier League with them and score 25 goals last season.

“We actually played them in a bounce game last Tuesday and won 3-2. It was great to get a run-out against my former club and it was nice to catch up with some of the boys again and speak with the manager.

“It took me a bit of time to get used to living over here, but I’m fine now. My parents recently moved into a new house, so I’m feeling a lot more settled than I was last year. The two biggest changes football-wise are the style of play, it is a lot different, it’s much more technical and the pitches are smaller, so there is more emphasis on your first touch.

“Also, the way your team-mates communicate is different. If you make a mistake, then you’re going to hear about it and that’s something I’ve had to get used to. I took me a few months to adapt when I was at Musselburgh, but I feel I’ve improved since then.”

Meanwhile, substitute Jordan Hopkinson netted the only goal of the game as Civil Service Strollers edged out Edusport Academy 1-0 at Christie Gillies Park. Whitehill Welfare claimed a point from their bottom-of-the-table clash with Dalbeattie, Kieran Somerville’s 71st minute strike cancelling out Allan Jenkins’ early opener.