McLeod hat-trick helps fire Spartans into semis

Keith McLeod remains in top goalscoring form
Keith McLeod remains in top goalscoring form
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Spartans, with the help of a hat-trick from in-form striker Keith McLeod, cruised into the semi-finals of the South Region Challenge Cup where they will meet Dalbeattie Star at Ainslie Park.

Spartans attacked from the kick-off and it came as no surprise when, after Jack Beesley was brought down 25 yards from goal, he fired the resultant free kick high into the net. However, Nithsdale, who play in the South of Scotland League, proved to be hard to break down initially with virtually every player behind the ball. On the half hour mark an Alan Brown cross was headed in by McLeod. The prolific hit-man slid home the third shortly after half-time before Geoffrey Paterson reduced the deficit from the penalty spot.

Willie Bremner, with a half-volley from 25 yards, increased Spartans’ advantage then Bremner set up McLeod who steadied himself before recording his hat-trick. Substitute Sean Muhsin netted with a low shot and then Beesley completed the rout in the final minute.

Douglas Samuel, the Spartans manager, said: “I thought that we were excellent in the first half and could have gone in at half-time more than two ahead.

“Overall it was a thoroughly professional performance apart from a ten minute spell early in the second half. After we scored the third goal I think we relaxed a bit too much and the game got a bit loose and stretched with one or two individual errors. This resulted in Nithsdale getting a penalty and they got a foothold in the game for the first time. But once we settled down and got our shape back we then were on top and were comfortable winners. It is the biggest cup competition we play in and we are looking forward to the semi-final.”

Nithsdale Wanderers: Grozier, R Kilpatrick (C Kilpatrick 75), Candlish, Bennie, Currie, M Bell, Johnson, Paterson, Soltys, Irving (McConnachie 80), Houston (I Bell 71). Sub: Morrison.

Spartans: Bennett, Grant, Cennerazzo (Blaickie 82), Sievwright, O’Donnell, Motion (Muhsin 78), Brown, Whatley, Anderson (Bremner 63), McLeod, Beesley. Subs: MacCuish, Gilpin.