Spartans battle hard but Liverpool land Ronnie Swan Trophy
Spartans marked a decade since the inception of their famed academy with a glamour friendly against a Liverpool Under-23 side as the talented visitors lifted the Ronnie Swan Trophy with a 1-0 victory at a packed Ainslie Park.
Dougie Samuel’s men competed for long spells against their fledging opponents from Merseyside, who included highly-rated midfielder Herbie Kane in their starting line-up.
Spartans kick-off their Lowland League campaign away to University of Stirling a week on Saturday, with their last warm-up match before the league curtain raiser coming this Saturday away to East of Scotland outfit Jeanfield Swifts.
Liverpool dictated possession in the early stages, with their first chance arriving after five minutes. Right-back Neco Williams picked up the ball inside the 18-yard box and cut across for Isaac Christie-Davies, whose attempt was well saved by the onrushing Blair Carswell.
The visitors, who finished fourth in last season’s Premier League 2, continued to enjoy the bulk of possession midway through the opening half without causing too much of a threat in font of goal, with keeper Carswell spending the remainder of the opening half untroubled.
Spartans ended the half on top with several set piece opportunities; their best chance coming after 38 minutes with former Montrose centre back Michael Bolochoweckyj getting on the end of a free-kick, only to see his prodded attempt saved by Ben Winterbottom.
Former Bonnyrigg man Dean Hoskins provided Spartans’ best threat from his left-back berth and set up striker Nicky Reid with a great opportunity to open the scoring on the hour, only for the diminutive frontman to glance his header wide when well positioned to hit the target.
Their was scant opportunities for either side as the friendly wore on, with regular stoppages for substitutions doing little to encourage a flow to the match.
Substitute Jack Bearne netted the opener after 85 minutes - Liverpool’s only real chance after the interval - when the striker capitalised on a Carswell error, rounding the stranded keeper before firing into the roof of the unguarded net.
Spartans manager Dougie Samuel said: “I thought we acquitted ourselves well. In the first ten minutes when they were zipping it about and the righ- back was getting high, I was thinking it was going to be a long night, but once we settled, I think the players backed themselves. When they had the chance to pass it they did, and they kept and it managed to get in behind once or twice. It was disappointing to lose the nature of the goal that we did, because it was our own making really, especially when Blair had played really well all night.
“We’ve got a tough one up straight away. Like ourselves we’ve had a few changes. I think it will be our most difficult season in the Lowland League since it started. There are teams who have invested a lot of money. We’ll be doing our best to stay competitive and hope to surprise a few people.”
Spartans: Carswell, Brown, Hoskins, Tolmie (Allan), Bolochoweckyj (Hand), Corbett, Scott, McFarland (Grant), Murrell (Reid), Maxwell (Dawson), Atkinson (Baxter).
Liverpool U-23s: Winterbottom (George), N.Williams (Bearne), Johnston (Gallagher), R.Williams (Clayton), Boyes, Chirivella (Dixon), Kane (Ratticaio), Sheriff, O’Rourke, Christie-Davies (Dal), Longstaff.