Spartans pay tribute to former player with win

Spartans' prolific striker Keith McLeod scores the first of his two goals. Pic: Gordon Fraser
Spartans' prolific striker Keith McLeod scores the first of his two goals. Pic: Gordon Fraser
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Spartans boss Dougie Samuel thought it was fitting that his team signed off their Lowland League campaign with a win for Cameron Armstrong, beating Threave Rovers 2-1 at Ainslie Park.

The former Spartans youth player sadly passed away last week, and there was a minute’s silence before a first half Keith McLeod double rendered Ian Miller’s free-kick a mere consolation for the visitors.

Samuel was pleased his players finished a sad week, and their league season, on a positive note. “It was great to get the three points and also to celebrate Cammy’s life before the game,” he said. “It’s been a tough week for everybody connected with the club and our hearts go out to his family.

“The first half an hour we played really well. We had about ten goal attempts and really should have had the game out of sight but when you lose a goal on the stroke of half time it knocks the stuffing out of you a wee bit. Our confidence is a little bit brittle just now and you could see that in our second half performance.”

Spartans started brightly and were ahead after seven minutes when Keith McLeod latched on to a scooped pass over the Threave defence and fired the ball past Vinnie Parker.

Parker then had to stand up well to stop Paul Sludden’s close-range shot before Dean Horribine sent a dipping effort just wide from distance. A second goal looked inevitable and it arrived when McLeod rounded Parker and rolled the ball home on 20 minutes.

Ross Gilpin was called into action as Threave tried to respond, diving to his left to palm away Dean Fyfe’s side-foot shot. The visitors got back into the game on the stroke of half-time when Ian Miller curled a free-kick round the wall and into the bottom corner.

After the interval, Willie Bremner headed home Horribine’s corner but was penalised for a push.

McLeod had a chance to claim his hat-trick just after the hour but glanced a header wide from Douglas’ cross. Spartans again had the ball in the net through Sludden but the on-loan Stenhousemuir man was flagged offside.

Sub Blair Atkinson should have sealed the points a minute from time but could only shoot straight at Parker.

Goalscorer McLeod was happy to end the season on a scoring note, but admitted he wasn’t overly disappointed at being taken off on a hat-trick. “It’s not been the most prolific of seasons for me but it was good to get a couple of goals.”

The veteran striker is now just four goals shy of the 300 mark, but has yet to discuss his future with his manager. “I’ve not spoken to Dougie but I’ll be 37 in the summer, so I don’t know about next season yet – struggling after half an hour kind of tells its own story! We’ll see – I’ve not been here much recently with work and I don’t know if that’ll change or not so we’ll see what happens.”

Spartans: Gilpin, Brown, Stevenson, Sivewright, MacKinnon, Horribine, Beesley, Bremner, Douglas (Atkinson 76), McLeod (Beacher 64), Sludden.

Threave Rovers: Parker, Goodwin, Jackson (Roan 76), Wilby, Patterson Forsyth, Fyfe, Tait, Donelly (Docherty 86), Struthers (Milligan 86), Miller.