WHITEHILL WELFARE suffered late heartbreak for a second week in succession as reigning champions Spartans battled back tenaciously to salvage a vital point from their encounter at Ferguson Park.
The Midlothian club looked set to claim a surprising victory after Kevin Keane had given them a first-half lead. However, midfielder Ian McFarland struck an equaliser four minutes from the end to steal an unlikely share of the spoils.
Spartans hadn’t tasted defeat against Whitehill since October 2016.
Ian Little’s youthful squad, which featured 12 players under the age of 21, proved they shouldn’t be written off lightly, though. Little handed a debut to centre-half David Wilson, who completed his loan move from Airdrieonians prior to kick-off.
The Rosewell outfit began well with Kieran Somerville registering the first shot after four minutes. The visitors came within inches of breaking the deadlock a few minutes later when Scott Maxwell played Blair Atkinson through on goal, but the youngster couldn’t direct his effort on target after rounding the keeper.
The opening goal arrived in the 38th minute. Full-back Kevin Keane raced past two players into the box and rifled a low shot into the net from the left-hand side of the box.
Spartans thought they had equalised on the stroke of half-time when Atkinson found the net, only for the linesman to flag him offside.
Spartans striker Jack Smith made his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury on the hour mark, replacing Stephen MacDonald.
But it was down to Blair Carswell at the other end to prevent Whitehill from increasing their lead. James McPartlin’s powerful effort was well saved by the Spartans keeper and Mikey Hamilton was unable to turn home the rebound.
The home side were left to rue that missed opportunity in after failing to clear an inswinging corner.
Following a stramash in the penalty area, Ian McFarland poked home the leveller, ensuring Whitehill failed to protect a lead yet again, following their late collapse against BSC Glasgow the previous week.
Meanwhile, Civil Service Strollers were denied maximum points after being held to a 1-1 draw against BSC at the Indodrill Stadium.
Gary Jardine’s men frustrated their high-flying hosts, who sit second in the table, with Shaun Struthers, Thomas Orr and David Winters all passing up good opportunities in the second half.
Ian Ballantyne broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute when he turned the ball home from close range after connecting with Steven Froude’s cross.
However, just four minutes later, midfielder Declan Hughes headed home Martin Grehan’s cut-back for his third goal in four games to earn a point.
In the battle of the two University teams, Edinburgh and Stirling played out a 1-1 draw at Forthbank, despite the home side dominating large spells of the match.
Dorian Ogunro’s men struck against the run of play in the 73rd minute when Ross Watters found himself unmarked at the back post to head home a corner.
The lead lasted just five minutes when Lewis Bonar hit the deck under Luke Murray’s challenge and the forward sent goalkeeper Mark Tait the wrong way from 12 yards out.