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Only in Scotland would you be able to experience 3 different seasons in the one day, and today down at Leith Links, this was the case. A cold and windy first half, countered by summer temperatures in the second. The latter reflecting Leith Athletic's performance this afternoon. Eight goals for Leith, split evenly between the two halves, against a deflated Spartans outift.
A stunner from McManus, and own goal, McBride and Stark settled the game early for Leith in the first half, and a double from Thomson, and two headers from Taylor and Aitchison meant Leith had doubled their half time advantage by the end of the 80 minutes.
Leith had the kick off on the bobbly park at Leith Links, and to their credit, tried to play football. However, this may not have been the cleverest idea early on, as Jay McManus' casual backpass was latched onto by Spartans' Callum Wales and Leith Keeper Jordan Pettigrew had to be on his toes to save well early on. McManus was a relieved boy.
This early scare never took Leith out of their stride though, and McManus put them ahead shortly after. He received the ball out wide right, and the state of the pitch assisted him, as the ball sat up nicely, and his attemped cross swerved over diving Spartans Keeper Gregor Fraser into the top corner of the net. A great start from Leith after thier nervous opening. McManus making amends for his almost dreadful first touch in the match.
With the next Leith attack, Coll Reekie's low shot had Fraser scrambling and he managed to turn it round the post. From the resulting corner, Reekie's great delivery evaded everybody, apart from unfortunate Spartans Niall Kane, who found himself in a helpless position on the post, as the ball hit his shoulder and found the back of the net for Leith's second goal of the afternoon.
Leith were in total control of this match in the everchanging weather conditions, and almost found their third goal so quick after their second. Excellent trickery from McManus down the right hand side allowed him a one on one chance with Fraser, but the keeper stood up to the task and saved well down low to his right.
In a rare flurry forward from Spartans, Jordan Pettirgrew had to be quick off his line to beat Samuel Nhamburo to the ball. however the keeper spilled the ball and Nhamburo was almost able to tuck it away for Spartans, but Pettigrew was quick to react and gather the ball at the second attempt.
Leith errors seem to wake them up, as their next attack resulted in their third goal. Pettigrew's throw out was aimed towards Andrew Taylor, and the midfielder turned immacuately in the middle of the park, and hit a lob pass into the path of Marco McBride who finished expertly across the keeper to make it 3-0 to Leith. Spartans not being able to grab a foothold in the match.
The only Spartans player who showed any urgency and enthusiasm was left back Jarek Wdowiak. He tried on numerous occasions to attack Leith and his powerful and driving runs lacked support from his team mates.
His latest burst down the left hand side, resulted in him loosing the ball after travelling 50 yards with it, leaving him out of position to allow Leith to score thier fourth. A long diagonal pass from Aitchison to the offside McBride, was taken down brilliantly, and squared to Ewan Stark to round off an excellent first half for Leith. However, McBride was at least a yard offside when the pass was played by Aitchison, and referee Tam Carter explained to me, he never realised McBride was in an offside position, and also there was not one appeal from a Spartans player, coach or parent. Bizzare.
Half Time: Leith Athletic 4-0 Spartans FC Youth
Leith brough substitutes Calum Smart and Conal Prior into the action at half time, in place of Andrew Taylor and Marco McBride. Smart was immediately involed in the play and the striker's first touch was to attempt to bend the ball around Spartans keeper Fraser, but his finish was poor and easily saved by Fraser.
Smart was again in the thick of the action, as his powerful run down the left wind, resulted in an overhit cross, which was rescued by fellow substitute Prior, and his returned cross was volleyed in by Lee Thomson to make it 5-0 to Leith, to put them in a very comfertable position.
Lee Thomson's dead ball accuracy was different class all day long, and his latest delivery found the head of Prior, and Spartans Niall Kane did brilliantly to somehow prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net. Kane in some what attoning for his own goal early on in the match.
At this point, it was now damage limitation for Spartans, as Thomson doubled his tally and made it 6-0 to the home side. Strong hold up play from Stark, he released Smart to bear down on the Spartans goal, this time the striker choosing the square the ball for Thomson, who neatly turned his marker to finish into the empty net.
With Leith's usual centre back pairing of Murray Scott, suspended, and Calum Sandison, son of former Hearts player Jimmy Sandison, injured, the makeshift pairing of Jamie Chapman and Rory Pilbeam had a solid game, and would give Scott and Sandison a run for their money once they were both ready for selection again. However, Chapman and Pilbeam had to remember they were playing centre back, as they thought it would be okay to try and play some neat football at the back. This almost backfired as Nhamburo latched on to a stray pass from Chapman, but his shot was woeful and ended up on the road at the side of the pitch. Not the type of shot he was looking for.
A long ball from Fraser, ended up in a rare venture forward for Spartans, with Nhamburo turning and firing a fierce strike which seemed destined for the top corner, but at full stretch, Pettigrew was able to hold onto the ball and he made the save look easy. Obviously not one for the cameras.
Leith were keeping possesion of the ball well on a surface that welcomed the long ball. However to their credit, the home side played some brilliant football and from this they went on and scored their seventh. Once they had finished acting like Barcelona, they won a corner and Thomson whipped in a delightful near post delivery onto the head of Taylor with a bullet into the top corner. Leith 7-0 up.
Another corner from Leith, this time from Roan Turkington, was met by the head of Ross Aitchison to score Leith's eight goal of the afternoon and to round off a very comfertable win.
Calum Smart had the opportunity right at the death to find a ninth goal for Leith, but he failed to do so as his shot was well saved by Fraser. Although Smart could have squared the ball for Thomson for his hattrick, but Smart decided to try and score himself. This decision backfired.
In the end, a very comfertable win for Leith, in a match that Spartans just never got going. Two early goals from the home side set them on thier way, and Spartans will feel disappointed they never managed to even grab a consolation goal.
Full Time: Leith Athletic 8-0 Spartans FC Youth