CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS dismantled managerless Gretna 6-0 to claim a third straight league win and regain their place among the top five in the Lowland League.
Gary Jardine’s men were in clinical form at Raydale Park to ensure they warmed up for next week’s showdown with high-flying Kelty Hearts in style.
In contrast, a struggling Gretna side were beginning life without recently-departed management duo Davie Irons and Andy Aitken.
Steven Froude opened the scoring after 39 minutes when he connected with Craig Newall’s cross and steered a header past goalkeeper James Atkinson into the bottom corner. Atkinson was beaten again early in the second half when frontman Froude grabbed his second, glancing Andrew Mair’s delivery past the stranded shot-stopper into the net.
The prolific striker was influential in Civil’s third goal when he rounded Atkinson and squared the ball to Cammy Muirhead who rolled it into an empty net. Cowdenbeath loanee Muirhead has made a significant impact since joining Strollers and he pounced on a slack clearance by Atkinson before displaying great composure to beat the former Queen of the South man for 4-0.
Jordan Hopkinson made it 5-0 in the 84th minute when he fired home unmarked from just inside the box after good play on the wing from ex-Leith Athletic man Froude.
The rout was completed just two minutes later when Hopkinson’s effort was saved by Atkinson but the ball cannoned off a Gretna defender into his own net.
Elsewhere, Lewis Sloan struck in the 89th minute to hand second-bottom Dalbeattie Star a 1-0 victory over Edinburgh University at East Peffermill. Dorian Ogunro’s students were unable to halt their slump in form against a Dalbeattie side with just two wins to their name this season.
It seemed likely both teams would claim a share of the spoils until frontman Sloan popped up in the final minute, sparking wild celebrations from the small contingent of travelling fans.
Spartans headed off to Dublin for their team night out in high spirits after thrashing Vale of Leithen 6-0 at Ainslie Park on Friday evening.
The hosts’ early pressure paid off after 11 minutes when Alan Brown was forced wide by keeper Ross Gilpin, but still managed to slip the ball to Jason Stevens and the former Vale striker stroked into an unguarded net.
The visitors, returning to competitive action for the first time in more than a month after a string of postponements, were struggling to adapt to the blustery weather conditions. Chris Anderson’s side could do little to prevent flying full-back Brown from curling a stunning effort into the top corner after 28 minutes.
The wind certainly played its part in Spartans’ third goal nine minutes later, as David Greenhill’s corner hung up in the breeze and centre-back Adam Corbett powered a header into the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Vale failed to deal with another ball into their box in the 56th minute, allowing Stephen MacDonald to stab home from close range.
The one-way traffic continued as skipper Michael Herd was granted acres of space before firing low under Gilpin after 73 minutes.
With the game all but over, Spartans boss Dougie Samuel handed several of the club’s exciting under-20 prospects a chance to showcase their talents in the closing stages.
And there was no let up from the champions as American frontman MacDonald notched his second of the match after racing clean through on goal in the dying moments.