SPARTANS produced a match-winning fightback with four unanswered second-half goals against Garry O’Connor’s Selkirk to maintain the pressure on an idle Edinburgh City at the top of the Ferrari Packaging Lowland League.
The North Edinburgh club opened their doors for free to supporters in return for donated items to support the Spartans Community Foundation’s Food Bank appeal and their charitable nature appeared to extend onto the pitch as the visitors took the lead in the seventh minute.
Ross Gray found himself in space deep inside the Spartans penalty area and he drilled low past the outstretched arm of Blair Carswell to put the Borders side ahead.
That lead lasted all of six minutes. With the Selkirk defence sitting high, striker Aaron Murrell used his pace to latch on to a deep through ball and the youngster’s exquisite lob over a stranded Jamie Newman levelled proceedings.
It didn’t take long for the Yarrow Park side to regain the lead and they did so in some style. Former Dundee United player David Robertson saw his unstoppable drive from 25 yards crash in off the crossbar to leave Carswell as a mere bystander.
Murrell almost netted his second equaliser of the afternoon. However, his turn and shot on the edge of the box fell on the wrong side of the post to maintain Selkirk’s advantage at the break.
Spartans introduced Dean Horribine ahead of the second half and manager Dougie Samuel was rewarded almost instantly with the replacement poking home a 49th-minute goal into the bottom corner to restore parity on the scoreboard once again.
With a quarter of the match remaining, Conner Duthie gave Spartans the lead. Newman and Horribine clashed just outside the box and the ball fell to the on-loan Hibs teenager who rammed home from a tight angle. Behind for the first time in the game, Selkirk’s task to swing the balance back in their favour was made harder when Jordan Allan was offered an early shower on a bitterly cold afternoon for a second bookable offence.
Spartans used their numerical advantage to impose further misery on O’Connor’s side with two goals inside the final ten minutes. A well-worked move was executed by Keith Murray then the icing was put on the cake – a birthday one at that – as Jamie Dishington celebrated in style with the fifth and final strike following a pinpoint Gary Cennerazzo cross.
It was a hard-fought victory that saw the Spartans gaffer praise a Selkirk outfit who made life difficult for his side.
“I thought Selkirk were excellent in the first half, they pressed hard, got on the front foot and caused us a few problems,” Samuel said.
“We changed the shape at half-time and Dean Horribine – who I thought was fantastic when he came on – gave us a timely boost with his early goal after the break.”
With 12 goals in their last two games, Spartans have found their way to the back of the net. However, Samuel still believes there’s work to be done at the other end.
“There’s still a fair amount of room for improvement, especially defensively.
“I thought in the first-half we didn’t defend as a team and we were a little bit all over the place and that’s something we will need to work on this week at training.”
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Cennerazzo, Malone, Thomson, Greenhill, Brown, Stevenson (McNab 78), Murrell (Horribine 45), Murray, Duthie (Dishington 72). Subs not used: Saunderson, Ross.
Selkirk: Newman, Pyper (Samson 69), McDairmid, O’Connor (Hay 70), Robertson, Ritchie, Addison, Handren, Gray, Allan, Harley (McKenzie 56). Subs not used: Christie, Butler, Collin, Dowie.