Scottish Cup: Spartans boss frustrated

Winner: Albion striker Mark McGuigan fires home to put Spartans out of the Cup. Picture: Steve Welsh
Winner: Albion striker Mark McGuigan fires home to put Spartans out of the Cup. Picture: Steve Welsh
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Spartans manager Dougie Samuel was frustrated by his side’s performance in the final third as a single goal from Albion Rovers’ Mark McGuigan settled their William Hill Scottish Cup second-round tie.

“We defended well but going forward we can offer more than that and we are disappointed we didn’t create more chances,” said Samuel.

“There is no shame in us coming here and losing by a single goal. I think that the fact this game was as even, plus the great results for Preston and Whitehill at the weekend, show that there isn’t as big a difference between League Two and the Lowland League as many may think.”

Certainly it was the visitors who started brightest at Cilftonhill and John Grant found space on the right after just ten seconds however his dangerous cross into the box was headed clear by the Rovers defence. Things continued to look positive for Spartans when Keith McLeod used his strength in the box to force the first corner of the game just a minute later.

Albion reacted well, however, and forced their first corner of the game in the third minute as Ally MacKinnon had to look sharp to block a long-range shot from Albion midfielder Kevin Nicol.

The game settled down after that and a lack of creativity in the final third meant that neither keeper was really tested in the first half.

Darren Miller curled a free kick from 25 yards over the bar in the 16th minute while, at the other end, it took until the 38th minute for Spartans to have their first attempt at goal, McLeod getting his head onto a John Grant cross, however the ball looped high and was easily held by Neil Parry in the Albion goal. Alan Reid was the first player into the book when he was shown a yellow card in the 39th minute for a cynical foul on Spartans’ Alan Brown as he looked to break on a counter attack.

McLeod was the first Spartan in the book in the 41st minute for a foul on the half way line.

Just before half-time, Mark Whatley and McLeod combined to set up Kevin Motion on the edge of the box but his strike at goal was blocked by Reid and cleared to safety.

Spartans started the second half with intent and Mark Whatley had a strike from range in the 47th minute which was easily held by Parry. Moments later Alan Brown looked like he would race free down the left wing but play was called back for a tight offside decision.

Albion came close to opening the scoring in the 50th minute when a neat ball played into Mark McGuigan allowed the striker to hold the ball up and lay it off to Scott Chaplain whose first time volley bounced just wide.

John Grant was next into the book for persistent fouls in the 52nd minute. Then Albion scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute. A free-kick was played long and fell to Chaplain, he played the ball wide for McGuigan, on loan from Partick Thistle, and the tall striker’s cross-cum-shot flew over the head of Spartans keeper Scott Bennett and into the far corner of the net.

Substitute Jack Beesley had Spartans’ best chance in the 74th minute when a long throw in fell as his feet inside the box, however his shot from eight yards out was blocked.

At the other end Bennett had to look sharp to turn a low strike from Gary Phillips round the near post. Spartans’ task was made all the harder in the 78th minute when John Grant was shown his second yellow card for a trip on Chris Dallas and Albion held on for the win.

Albion Rovers: Parry, Reid, Dunlop, Miller, Donnelly, Nicol, Flood (Dallas 59), Tiffney (Russell 84), McGuigan (Maguire 90), Chaplain, Phillips. Unused sub: Dunlop, McGinley.

Spartans: Bennett, Cennerazzo, Main, Sivewright, MacKinnon, Grant, Brown, Whatley, Henretty (Bremner 83), McLeod (Ross 83), Motion (Beesley 70). Unused subs: Anderson, O’Donnell, Blaikie, Gilpin.