Dougie Samuel hails Spartans’ magnificent seven

Dougie Samuel
Dougie Samuel
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Spartans boss Dougie Samuel hailed the contribution of midfielder Ian McFarland after the Ainslie Park outfit began their 2017/2018 Lowland League campaign with a scintillating start, thrashing Hawick Royal Albert 7-0.

In truth, Albert were lucky to escape without further punishment as the home side’s superiority threatened to run up a cricket score.

Jamie Dishington put Samuel’s men in the ascendency with a double inside the opening half hour and Ross Allum’s curling free-kick had Spartans three-up at the interval.

Allum’s second nine minutes after the restart and further efforts from substitutes Blair Atkinson and Dachi Khutsishvili, plus a blistering strike from captain Michael Herd two minutes from time, rounded off the perfect afternoon.

But, it was the composure of McFarland, who made the switch from SPFL League Two and city rivals Edinburgh City last month, that really stood out.

“McFarland brings something completely different and is the first player we’ve had since Mark Whatley [now at Arbroath] that can do the defensive side of the game really well,” Samuel explained. “He breaks things up and slows the game down but he can also pick a pass going forward as we saw today.

“The signings that have come in have made a really good impression and have settled in well. There’s a real good spirit in the camp just now as we’ve come into the season having won our own pre-season tournament [Ronnie Swan Memorial Trophy] and that gets a bit of momentum going.

“It’s a fantastic start for us. I’m really pleased to see the goals spread around as well as keeping a clean sheet. We had over 30 attempts on goal so we couldn’t be happier. We’ll get stronger over the next few weeks as we get a few people back so it’s nice to start with a win at home. We know there are much bigger games and bigger tests that lie ahead and I mean no disrespect to Hawick when I say that.

“But the players kept the ball moving and they retained possession well and I think that’s why we created so many goalscoring opportunities. I don’t want to take anything away from my players who I thought played very well.”

McFarland was joined by former City team-mate Ross Guthrie, who also made the move during the off-season, in the starting line-up.

However, it was former Academy player Dishington, who pounced on a loose ball in the ninth minute to strike the opener.

Craig Stevenson and Alan Brown were combining well down the left side and Dishington added his second from the former’s cross, taking a neat touch to control and toe-poking the ball beyond the Hawick No.1.

Allum, another former City player, then dispatched his 20-yard free-kick into the corner of the net despite the best efforts of the trialist goalkeeper just four minutes later.

Brown hit the outside of the post three minutes into the second half after Allum’s initial shot had been parried.

But Allum wasn’t to be denied a brace when he latched on to a perfectly-weighted McFarland pass to round the keeper and make it four.

Spartans were now toying with their opponents and terrific link-up play by Dishington and Stevenson carved out number five of the afternoon, Atkinson on hand to turn the ball in from close range with 20 minutes remaining.

Khutsishvili’s angled drive made it six before Herd’s 25-yard effort completed the rout.

Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Stevenson, Tolmie, Thomson (Khutsishvili 62), Greenhill, Brown, Dishington, Allum (Nixon 62), McFarland, Guthrie (Atkinson 62). Subs: Bremner, Wilson, Archibald, Trialist.

Hawick Royal Albert: Trialist, Muttitt, Knox, Johnson, Duff, Trialist, Cairns (O’Brien 66), Hogg, Trialist, Simpson, Peddie (Rose 55). Subs: Thomson, Clunie, O’Brien, O’Donnel, Summers, Trialist.