Spartans boss Dougie Samuel insists points outweigh performances as his side edged past Civil Service Strollers 1-0 to move to within a point of Lowloand League leaders East Kilbride.
Scott Maxwell’s first-half header was enough to separate the north Edinburgh rivals at Ainslie Park and maintain the home side’s title charge.
Spartans also leapfrogged BSC Glasgow into second ahead of the this weekend’s mouthwatering clash at Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium.
The Capital outfit have three games in hand over reigning champions Kilby and Samuel appreciates the magnitude of his side’s latest victory – their 14th of the campaign.
“Some days you’ve just got to find a way to win and we’ve done that through a set-piece. We’ve played a lot of good football in my time here so I’m not going to apologise for us being a bit off colour in the second half,” Samuel explained.
“We had a couple that played who were feeling a bit under the weather and that maybe showed in their match sharpness.
“But I thought we played some nice stuff in the first half and deserved to go in more than one up at half-time. But credit to Civil as they stuck at it and they might feel a bit hard done by not to nick a point in the end.
“We’re happy to be in the race but we also know there is a helluva long way to go. It’s a big game [with BSC] but I’d rather be in our position than theirs. I think the consequences for them of us getting a win would be significant, whereas the consequences of them getting a win are less so for us but we’ll certainly be going there to win.”
The hosts got off to a flyer and were ahead after a quarter of an hour. A long throw into the Strollers box from Jack Nixon was flicked on at the near post by recent signing Jason Stevens and Maxwell steered his header past Stuart Burnside from just a couple of yards.
Craig Stevenson was proving a real thorn in the Strollers defence but time and again his deliveries across goal evaded those in red and white.
Having just been cautioned, Scott Gormley was perhaps fortunate not to pick up a second booking for a late lunge on Ian McFarland as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close.
Maxwell’s cross from the left almost deceived Burnside minutes into the second half as the ball came back off the post as Spartans chased a second.
The visitors grew in confidence as the half wore on and substitute James Hainey rattled the side netting with a fierce drive.
Ian Ballantyne was off target with a similar effort and Stevens should have added a second right at the death from a pinpoint Willie Bremner cross.
Strollers manager Alex Cunningham said: “We didn’t have enough belief in the first half. I don’t think we had that cutting edge in the final third and that kind of killed it for us. But they are not at the top of the league for nothing, however, that’s twice we’ve ran them very close.”
Former Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine was in the Strollers dugout and he added: “They’re a really good group to work with and have given everything since I’ve come in to help out. I’m loving being back involved again as I’ve really missed being away. We’re just taking it week by week at the moment so we’ll see what happens.”
Elsewhere, Edinburgh University were beaten 2-1 by Cumbernauld Colts at Broadwood. Sean Brown and Gavin Lachlan were on target for the home side before Jack Guthrie added a consolation late on for the students.
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Stevenson, Tolmie, Corbett, Greenhill, Dishington (Allum 63), McFarland, Stevens, Nixon (Brown 46), Maxwell (Bremner 79). Subs: Stobie, Thomson, Atkinson, Khutsishvili.
Civil Service Strollers: Burnside, Churchill, Mair, Laird, Turnbull, Cunningham, Clapperton, Ballantyne, Gormley (Hainey 56), Downie, Fee. Subs: Rankin, Devers, Dillon, Newall, Brown, Mitchell.