Spartans look to game with Kelty after abandonment

Spartans coach Derek Riddel
Spartans coach Derek Riddel
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SPARTANS first-team coach Derek Riddell felt the correct decision was taken to abandon their league encounter with Dalbeattie Star at half-time.

With the scoreline locked at 1-1, referee Eddie Ferguson called a halt to proceedings at the interval after deeming the Islecroft playing surface unsafe upon second inspection.

The bad weather didn’t prevent the match from getting underway, but both teams struggled to adapt to slippery underfoot conditions.

Dalbeattie, who haven’t won a domestic fixture since early December, set about changing that unwanted stat as they carved out the opening goal after 23 minutes. Just moments after Jason Stevens had forced Star goalkeeper Vincent Parker into a save, the home side broke up the field and Lewis Sloan headed a cross into the net.

As the rain continued to thunder down, Spartans levelled the match six minutes later when Aaron Scott picked out Stephen MacDonald and the American frontman slid the ball home.

Before the game could restart, referee Ferguson carried out a bounce ball test on the pitch and consulted both managers to express his concerns regarding the safety of the players.

The remainder of the first-half was concluded before a decision was reached to bring the match to a premature end.

That ensured the two teams would have to replay for a THIRD time after postponing their previous meeting due to travel concerns amid an amber weather warning last December. “It was a tough call for the referee, but I think it was the right decision in the end,” stated Riddell. “The pitch probably was playable before we started warming up but then as the game went on conditions deteriorated a lot.

“A lot of players were slipping on the park and it was becoming difficult to keep your standing foot when you were striking the ball. We wanted the game to continue because we had put in a good performance and worked really hard to equalise after Dalbeattie went ahead.

“Common sense prevailed, though, especially with the scoreline as it was at half-time. It’s just one of these things unfortunately. You’ve just got to get on with it.

“It’s frustrating for us because we’ll have to go back down there again during a midweek. We’ll concentrate on Friday night’s game against Kelty now.”

Riddell believes their recent return to form has come at an important stage of the season as the Ainslie Park men look to set up two end-of-season cup finals. “As long as you’re at Spartans you’re expected to win things and that’s what we still want to do this season. We’re on a good run at the moment and have got a semi-final in the Football Nation Cup coming up and the League Cup as well. East Kilbride are so far ahead of everyone else in the league, but we’ll still be looking to finish as high up the table as possible.”

Elsewhere, Civil Service Strollers reclaimed fourth spot after clinching a 4-1 victory over Vale of Leithen in the Borders.

Scott Clapperton rifled home from close range to give Strollers an 11th-minute lead and David Churchill doubled their advantage with a glancing header from Craig Newall’s cross. Churchill then turned provider for Jordan Hopkinson to make it 3-0 and substitute Alieu Faye curled home a fourth. Brad Rixon netted a consolation for Vale in added time.