Michael Bolochoweckyj glad to finally make Spartans debut in win over Gretna 2008

Michael Bolochoweckyj claimed it was a “relief” to finally make his long-awaited Spartans debut during their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Gretna 2008 at Ainslie Park.

Monday, 26th August 2019, 6:30 am

The 35-year-old defender signed a pre-contract agreement from Montrose in April and joined the Capital club over the summer, but had been ruled out of Spartans opening five matches with a recurring Achilles injury.

However, the experienced centre-back – who has played over 400 games in the SPFL across six different clubs – was thrilled to make his first appearance in over three months, despite being taken off as a precaution with 20 minutes remaining.

“It was a great feeling and a bit of a relief to finally be back out on the pitch again,” said Bolochoweckyj.

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“I was conscious when I signed for Spartans that I was getting on in age and have had my injuries problems over the last few years, but hopefully the club will benefit from my experience.

“The start of this season has been a struggle because my Achilles flared up during pre-season, but I was working hard with the physios and it was pleasing to get some game time under my belt.

“We’ve got the nucleus of a good squad here. It’s about me staying fit now and encouraging the younger boys along.

“It was a bit surreal joining my local club considering I grew up just behind the ground, and it’s great that I can now bring my kids along to games on a Saturday as the travelling back and forth to Montrose was becoming a bit too much.”

The best chance of a largely uneventful first half fell the way of 16-year-old midfielder Nicky Reid, who rattled the crossbar from the edge of the box after being set up by Scott Maxwell.

Gretna had conceded 15 goals in their first three league games and they rarely threatened the hosts’ goal, with lone striker David Renyard lacking the necessary service required to trouble Blair Carswell.

It seemed only a matter of time before Dougie Samuel’s side were rewarded for their slick build-up play and, after Adam Corbett and Gregor Woods spurned good chances, the breakthrough eventually arrived in the 71st minute.

Moments after stepping on to the field, towering centre-forward Cameron Dawson guided Woods’ cross from the right high past Cameron Copeland into the top corner of the net with his side-foot.

Maxwell and Reid passed up further opportunities to increase Spartans lead before Hearts loanee Leeroy Makovora’s debut was brought to a premature end after the youngster was shown a second yellow card for diving under Mickael Gueu’s challenge in the closing stages.

Super-sub Cameron Dawson admitted: “It was a brilliant feeling to come off the bench and score the winner like that. We knew we’d have lots of the ball, it was just about staying patient.

“It makes a big difference playing in a side with so many familiar faces who I’ve played with at under-20s level. We might have a young squad but it’s a very talented group.

“I know this is a massive season for me personally to prove I can make the step-up. I just need to keep working hard and hopefully force my way into the starting line-up.”

Spartans: Carswell, Corbett, Allan, Bolochoweckyj (Dawson; 69), Hoskins, Woods, Reid (Ashmore; 83), Scott, Maxwell, McFarland, Makovora. Unused: Peden, Tait, Murrell.

Gretna 2008: Copeland, Neto, Pearson, Dickinson, Gueu, Jackson, Duke-Smith (Addison; 29), Koroma (Watson; 69), Renyard, Patrick (Brown; 82), Rogers. Unused: Ramsey, White.

Referee: Gavin Ross.

Attendance: 139.