Spartans take down Camelon to lift Footbal Nation Cup Qualifying Cup once again
Two second-half goals from David Greenhill and Adam Corbett handed Spartans their first trophy of the season as they beat Camelon to lift the Football Nation Qualifying Cup for a ninth time in their history.
The Capital club merited this 2-0 victory at Foresters Park, home of Tranent, to deny their treble-seeking trophy hopefuls on an overcast but mild afternoon in East Lothian.
Spartans had disposed off East of Scotland opposition throughout the entire competition in the shape of Hill of Beath, Newtongrange Star, Tranent & Penicuik Athletic.
However, the Mariners’ route to the final was somewhat more controversial after losing their quarter-final tie against Kelty Hearts, only to be later reinstated after Kelty were found to have fielded an ineligible player.
In contrast to the two-time Lowland League champions, who have floundered during a largely substandard campaign, Camelon were searching for their third piece of silverware since making the transition to senior football last summer.
They began the match on the front foot and frontman Alan Sneddon drew a stunning save from Blair Carswell in the Spartans goals after just six minutes.
The opening 45 minutes was a fast and furious affair, with several chances created at either end of the pitch.
The best of those fell to the Ainslie Park men, with Scott Maxwell fizzing a low ball across the penalty area, which David Greenhill narrowly failed to connect with on the slide.
Spartans were forced into a change early in the second half when talisman Jack Smith was forced off with an injury, allowing youngster Nicky Reid the opportunity to impress.
The 16-year-old starlet made an instant impact when he collected Blair Atkinson’s pass before dragging a powerful effort narrowly wide of the target.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 65th minute when the ball fell to Greenhill on the edge of the box and the midfielder arrowed a stunning half-volley into the far corner.
Camelon, looking for an immediate response, went close to levelling the tie but the unmarked Jordan Herron headed agonisingly past the post.
The Falkirk outfit would pay for that miss after 77 minutes when Dean Shaw could only parry Scott Maxwell’s drive into the path of centre-back Adam Corbett, who headed into an unguarded net.
The afternoon went from bad to worse for Gordon Herd’s men when goalkeeper Shaw was given his marching orders for foul and abusive language towards the stand-side linesman.
As Spartans brought the curtain down on another gruelling season, manager Dougie Samuel questioned the SFA’s scheduling of certain cup competitions and believes it is time for the footballing authorities to alter the fixture programme accordingly.
He stated: “It’s been an incredibly long season for us going right back to the start of the Betfred Cup campaign last July, so I think it’s time for the powers that be to take a look at the scheduling.
“It’s all a bit of a nonsense because no sooner has this season finished then we’ll have the first-team back in for pre-season training on June 20. That means the players have only got roughly 3-4 weeks off, which is farcical.
“You’ve got to get the balance right between working life and football at this level. It’s important that we don’t have players playing 11-month seasons because they’ve got to have time to spend with their families and re-charge the batteries.
“Our preparations are already well under way for next year and I’ll spend the next couple of weeks going to watch certain players and identify potential signings, so there is a lot of work still to be done.”
Spartans: Carswell, Cennerazzo, Maxwell, McFarland, Corbett, Greenhill (Stevens), Atkinson (Brown), Scott, Smith (Reid), Dishington, Herd. Unused: Peden, Wishart, Dawson, Hand.
Camelon: Shaw, Deans, McKenzie, Morrison, Lockie, Kay, McMullan (Cameron), Herron, Sneddon, Docherty, Kane. Unused: Livingstone, Anderson, McCroary, Skinner, Batchelor.
Referee: Stewart Luke.