Both managers were left frustrated as arch-rivals Whitehill and Spartans served up a cracking 2-2 draw.
Spartans completely dominated the opening quarter with Keith McLeod, Gary Cennerazzo and Errol Douglas all having opportunities before they took the lead in the 21st minute.
A low cross from the left by Alasdair MacKinnon was not gathered cleanly by Whitehill goalkeeper Bryan Young and former Whitehill captain Mike Bruce was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
Whitehill thought they were certain to equalise when an Andrew Kidd corner found Wayne McIntosh and his bullet header was net bound until Kevin Swain miraculously tipped the ball over the crossbar. Douglas earned a corner, Willie Bremner headed wide and Keith McLeod hit a snap shot past the post as Spartans tried to add to their tally, although seconds before half-time Kerr Dodds hit the side-netting for Whitehill with an angular drive.
Whatever was said in the Whitehill dressing-room during the half-time break certainly worked wonders for the Ferguson Park faithful. Almost immediately after the re-start McIntosh displayed some silky touches in midfield before he fed Stevie Manson and his first-time cross from the right was headed powerfully into the net from eight yards by Aaron Somerville. Two minutes later a clearance from a pass back by goalkeeper Swain was charged down by Dodds and the ball rebounded to Somerville who slotted a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Spartans responded positively and after 67 minutes indecision by the Whitehill central defender Conan McDiarmid allowed the ball to fall into the path of leading goalscorer McLeod who wasted no time in dispatching a 16-yard shot into the far corner. Whitehill had the best opportunities to take maximum points late in the game when substitute John-Ross Kerr spurned two chances and the points were shared.
Whitehill boss Mickey Lawson reflected: “The fact we were at home means I have to say that it was two points dropped. The second half saw us score two early goals then we gave away a very bad goal. I thought that Spartans then settled for a draw and we had three occasions to have a shot on goal although it did not fall for us. Over the piece, a draw was probably a fair result but it was definitely two points dropped as far as I am concerned.”
Spartans manager Douglas Samuel said: “I am slightly frustrated because I think that we had enough opportunities in the first half to go in more than one ahead and I don’t think anybody would have begrudged us that.
“A point here at Ferguson Park is a point won and it is a really good point because this is a very difficult place to come. Whitehill will certainly be in the mix for the title at the end of the season so on reflection I’m happy we did not lose the game but a little frustrated that we did not put the game away in the first half.
“I think that our display has put to bed the myth that we cannot play on grass.”
Double Whitehill goalscorer Somerville said: “We started poorly and the boys knew that. We were glad to get to half-time trailing by only one goal. It was a different story when we came out for the second half and I scored two early goals. However, it feels like a defeat by just getting a draw.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Hall, Martin, McDiarmid, McKenzie (Sproule 71), Dodds, Manson, Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville, McLaughlin (Kerr 78). Subs: Quinn, Flynn, Cantley.
Spartans: Swain, MacKinnon, Cennerazzo, Sivewright, Bruce, Stevenson, Brown (Beesley 66), Grant, Bremner, McLeod (Henretty 90), Douglas (Beacher 66). Subs: Motion, O’Donnell, Muhsin, Gilpin.
Referee: Lorraine Clark