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Saturday sport, 25th June, Derek Hall’s report, Spartans v East Fife

todayJune 26, 2022


Spartans 2-1 East Fife

A few highlights from yesterdays pre season friendly at Ainslie Park between a Spartans side looking once again to be amongst the contenders in the Lowland League and an East Fife side who listed a number of trialists in their starting line up. After five minutes, one of those trialists wearing the No 7 shirt forced Spartans keeper Blair Carswell to beat behind an angled 15 yard drive. However the Spartans keeper could do nothing a minute later when Scott Mercer stepped up to send a beautiful right foot free kick from 20 yards over the wall and high into the top corner, a superb strike to put the visitors ahead. The game was being played at a fairly sedate pace and the home side only threatened sporadically, with half chances from Rhys Armstrong and Sam Jones both being blocked before they got through to trouble visiting keeper Allan Fleming. On the half hour, Scott Shepherds pace almost saw him in for the Methil men but keeper Carswell was quickly off his line to clear. Despite the friendly tag, East Fife’s trialist number 10 managed to get himself correctly cautioned by referee Stewart Luke after 34 minutes for bringing down Bradley Whyte from behind and a number of players from both sides waded in after the incident to have their say. A minute later, Liam Newton headed over the top from 12 yards from a nice Mercer cross and probably should have at least worked the home keeper. Two minutes from the break, Spartans Jordan Tapping looked to have turned his ankle and no chances were taken as he was immediately replaced by Chris Inglis. A slender lead for the visitors at the break in what had been a predictably downbeat first period but everyone involved would be happy to start getting the required fitness back into the legs.
Spartans made a couple of early changes on 47 minutes as Rhys Armstrong and Michael Herd were replaced by Gregor Woods and Jamie Penker. Four minutes later, Cunningham cut the ball back from the goal line for East Fife and Shepherd’s shot on the turn from eight yards was blocked. Two minutes later, a dreadful short back pass from Inglis had Shepherd in again but Spartans keeper Carswell was alert and off his line in a flash to close the space down and make the block. At the other end, a careless throw out from keeper Fleming saw Scott Maxwell presented with a chance to shoot from around 22 yards but again the low drive was blocked. After 56 minutes, a nice combination move from Spartans saw Penker play in Whyte and this time it was Fleming quickly off his line to make the save and then within 30 seconds, Cunningham had a drive saved by Carswell as the game finally picked up a bit more urgency from both sides. With 64 minutes gone, Mercer again demonstrated his willingness to shoot for visitors but Carswell was right behind his 25 yard drive which skimmed off the head of Shepherd on its way through. With 65 minutes gone, five East Fife changes and three for Spartans saw this reporter well and truly defeated by force of numbers ! The home side were having a bit of joy down their left flank and from one pull back, a misplaced shot from Woods fell for Whyte but he could only turn the ball wide of the visitors goal from around seven yards. A clash right in front of the East Fife dugout after 73 minutes resulted in Adam Mansouri picking up the second caution of the day for East Fife. However with eight minutes remaining, a Spartans corner saw an initial effort blocked but the loose ball dropped perfectly for Inglis to cushion a right foot eight yard half volley home and it was all square. Four minutes from time, Jack Healy cut in for the visitors from the wing but Carswell had his angles spot on and was right behind the 23 yard drive, before Lewis Anderson then fired well over the Spartans crossbar from about the same distance. However, the games final minute had a sting in the tail when Cammy Russell drove forward and played a great one two on the edge of the East Fife box with Whyte and despite being impeded as he moved back onto the ball, he had the strength to stay up and smash an unstoppable fifteen yard left foot half volley past the oncoming Fleming to win the game for the Ainslie Park side. A far more entertaining game after the break for the decent crowd present but a match which both teams will feel provided a good workout as they begin their preparations for the coming season.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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