|24th September 2016||15:00||Ferrari Packaging Lowland League||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|The Spartans FC||0||1||1||Win|
An injury-time penalty from Spartans’ Craig Johnston, with what amounted to the last kick of the match, sent Shire to a disappointing Lowland League defeat at Ainslie Park.
The game appeared to be drifting to a scoreless deadlock when Connor Greene jumped to try and clear a left-wing cross but was judged to have fouled Johnston as both players clashed heads.
The Spartans man sent Shire keeper Jamie Barclay the wrong way from the penalty spot to win the game.
It was hard on Shire who had turned in their most resolute defensive display of the entire season. But the team will also be left to reflect that, apart from the opening quarter of the match, they did not create enough clear cut scoring opportunities.
In part, they were not helped by an early injury to Jamie Glasgow who limped out of the game after just 20 minutes to be replaced by Dylan McGuigan.
Glasgow, and the rest of the Shire team, certainly looked up for the important clash right from the off and the winger in particular looked in the mood, causing all sorts of problems for the home team prior to his enforced departure and there was little doubt he was missed after that.
Coach John Sludden had to do without full-back Drew Ramsay, who was attending a wedding, which meant a return to the starting line-up for Graeme MacGregor. Paul Sludden, free of suspension, got MacGregor’s place on the bench with Shire otherwise unchanged from Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Stirling University.
Within seconds of the start Shire forced a corner which Andy Rodgers met at the near and the home defence were forced to bundle his effort off the goal line.
There followed a flurry of corners for the visitors as they kept the pressure on, although Scott Maxwell did try a long-range effort which Jamie Barclay saved.
After nine minutes Rodgers raced into the Spartans box but his effort, although well-hit, flew across the face of goal and narrowly wide.
Nine minutes later some nice passing play set up Kris Faulds on the edge of the box but the ball didn’t sit up for him and his effort cleared the crossbar.
After 26 minutes former Shire man Craig Comrie tried to chip Barclay from distance but the ball ended up on the roof of the Shire net.
A minute later Rodgers came closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock with a great strike that smacked off the Spartans’ crossbar with the keeper beaten by the deflection the ball had taken en route.
After 37 minutes Comrie had another long-range pot shot and four minutes from the break Johnston sent a near post drive wide.
Nine minutes after the break Jamie Dishington tried to lob Barclay as the Shire keeper advanced out of his goal but the goalie got his fingertips to the ball and the chance was gone.
After 55 minutes David Grant saw the way to goal was clear but he dragged his shot wide while at the other end Dishington had Barclay diving to save a near post effort before Maxwell’s long-range shot whizzed over the bar.
After 72 minutes Rodgers’ long-range volley just crept past the keeper’s near post as both teams tried their best to find a goal from somewhere.
With just three minutes left Shire’s David Grant missed the most clear-cut scoring opportunity of the afternoon after being played in behind the defence, aiming for the far post from inside the box but just firing the wrong side of the upright.
Spartans made one last attempt to try and find the winning goal. With just seconds left Greene and Johnston jumped to try and connect with a cross, both players heads came together and Johnston fell to the ground.
After giving it a lot of consideration the referee pointed to the penalty spot and Johnston fired home the winner.
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