A BIZARRE penalty decision denied Spartans EOS victory after they had led Leith Athletic 3-1 with ten minutes remaining of their Central Taxis Premier Division clash.
The goal frames at Meadowbank’s 3G artificial pitch are moved with wheels attached adjacent to each post, and when an 80th-minute shot at the Spartans goal flashed narrowly past the right-hand post, spun off a wheel and looped back into the six-yard box, a visiting defender handed the ball to his goalkeeper for a goalkick.
However, the assistant referee wrongly judged that the strike at goal had hit the post and signalled to the match referee to award a penalty for handball.
Leith’s Jamie Lauder converted the spot-kick before Kyle Hogg grabbed an injury-time equaliser for Leith to make the final score 3-3. Mike Gray notched a double for Spartans, who were pegged back by Chris Wright’s first-half equaliser before home skipper Gary Black scored an own goal just before half-time.
Of his team’s late capitulation, Spartans boss Alex Cunningham said: “We were all over the place because the players didn’t know what was going on.
“Until the penalty decision, Leith didn’t look like they were coming back into the game, and I didn’t feel we looked like we would lose a goal.”
Leith boss Derek Riddel said: “I thought we played well in the first half and we were really unlucky to go 2-1 down by half time. After the controversial penalty, the typical Leith spirit came through and we had a chance to win the game even after our late equaliser.”
Elsewhere, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale prepared for their clash with league leaders Stirling University this Saturday by drawing to within three points of the top after a 4-0 demolition of Coldstream.
Kevin Twaddle’s men emerged victorious from the Borders thanks to a Willis Hare double, Sean Wringe’s strike and John Williams’ penalty.
Twaddle said: “It’s a hard place to go but I’m really proud of the boys. It sets us up well for this week’s game against Stirling.”
Craigroyston retained second place in the top flight and also climbed to within three points of Stirling with a crushing 5-0 defeat of Heriot-Watt University played at St Mark’s Park.
Craig Dickson scored twice for Craigie, who added gloss to their win through goals by Mark Hendrie, Scott Ritchie, and Steven McCormack.
Gary Sutherland, Craigie’s assistant boss, said: “We played really well and scored some lovely, well-worked goals. Overall, it was a great, workmanlike team performance with some good goals into the bargain.”
Edinburgh University leapfrogged opponents Tynecastle into fourth place with a 1-0 win at Peffermill. Tim Rawlinson scored the only goal of the game to leave Uni boss Dorian Ogunro delighted.
“Overall, we deserved the result,” said Ogunro. “For our first game in three weeks, we played quite fluidly for the first 60 minutes. We then tired but defended well.”