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Spartans through to final after spot kick drama

Jimmy Johnstone Academy 2

Own Goal 79, Ashburn, 100

Spartans FC 2

Crombie, 12, Russell (pen), 95
  • Jimmy Johnstone Academy 2-2 Spartans FC (Spartans win 5-4 on penalties)
  • Sunday, 26 March 2017
  • James McGrory Park, St Roch's FC
  • Under 15´s
  • inspiresport SYFA Cup - Semi Final

Mark Gillespie | YFS North Ayrshire Senior Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author [email protected]

They don't come more action packed than this. A helter skelter semi-final came down to the dreaded shoot out at James McGrory Park, and after sudden death spot kicks, Spartans finally booked their place in next month’s final. It was drama all the way though, a great home turn out cheering on opponents who pushed them all the way.

Somebody had to lose, and it was tough on the Jimmy Johnstone Academy who had forced two last gasp levellers at the end of both regulation and extra time. This will have been a two hour nerve shredder for both dug outs and some exhausted players, and it’s unlikely that this reporter will see too many goalkeepers equalising direct from a set piece at the end of extra time.

The sides were well matched throughout, but Reece Mason’s early opener had begun to look like the winning goal, until with one last throw of the dice JJA lobbed a set piece into the box and the ball cannoned off a Spartans body, forcing extra time.

The home support erupted and it would have folded a lot of teams, but Spartans showed great spirit in extra time and retook the lead, only another last dash JJA special to force spot kicks.

The opener on 12 minutes was Spartans’ first real foray up the field, as Mason showed great pace and strength to shrug of his marker on the quick break down the right side of the box. The front man looked up and picked out Jack Crombie in the middle to dispatch the opener, against the early run of play.

JJA had been pressing well up the pitch with a lot of possession to this point, only to be undone by that sucker punch. They continued to build the play in the middle, but lacked the cutting edge of their opponents, whose goal scorer remained the focal point of every swift counter.

There really wasn’t much between the sides as the opening half drew to a close, with few further clear cut chances. Joseph Evenden could maybe have doubled Spartans lead midway as he latched on to a Mason through ball but Josh Ashburn was alert to rush out and block, while JJA struggled to carve out a clear sight of goal.

  • Half Time:
  • Jimmy Johnstone Academy
  • 0-1
  • Spartans FC

Words had obviously been had at half team and the home side began the second half looking to get the ball forward quicker, with Sean McMonagle almost through on goal two minutes.

They came close again on the hour mark, as Tiger Lawson stole a yard on his marker down the right edge of the box to square for substitute Ryan Neilson who forced a fine reflex stop from Niall McFadden in the Spartans goal.

The play started to swing end to end, with JJA freshening things up from the bench and throwing players forward. But for a Campbell Swanson shot cleared off the line Spartans were largely content to sit and soak up the pressure as the minutes ticked down.

Another chance fell to Neilson through on goal, but Kieran Moyles came to the Spartans rescue to clear over his own bar.

JJA had huffed and puffed and it was looking like the Spartans were going to walk away with the victory but JJA had one last card to play as they flung everyone forward for a late set piece.

Josh Ashburn’s floated ball into the area seemed to hang in the sun, and an attempted headed clearance flew past the stunned Spartans keeper and team mates to force extra time. 

  • Full Time:
  • Jimmy Johnstone Academy
  • 1-2
  • Spartans FC
It was a scrappy extra 20 with two sides having given their all fighting for the extra yard of space in normal time. JJA hoped to get a lift from the equaliser but Spartans came closest in the second period as Jonathan Jarron’s shot clipped the outside of Ashburn’s post.

Then came a frantic final five minutes, as firstly the visitors took the lead again from the spot after Baur’s long ball put Evenden clean through only to be bundled over in the box. Keir Russell stepped up to convert and put his side within sight of the final.

But JJA weren’t done and equalised with that final kick of the ball, with GK the unlikeliest of heroes as his delivery into the box skipped past everyone and into the net. Could he repeat his heroics in the shoot-out?

Alas for JJA it wasn’t to be as Neilson fired his sudden death penalty over the bar. They had been given a real run for their money, but Spartans had done it the hard way and are into next month’s showpiece to face Glenvale.

Final Result: Jimmy Johnstone Academy 2-2 Spartans FC (Spartans win 5-4 on penalties)

Lineups

Jimmy Johnstone Academy
Spartans FC
30.Josh Ashburn
19.Aaron Bryson
9.Jordan Hood
8.Callum Imrie
12.Jamie Kane
17.Tiger Lawson
10.Jay McCallum
16.Sean McMonagle
2.Josh Milligan
11.Ryan Neilson
3.Callum Reidman
7.Michael Reilly
5.Alfie Robinson
14.Marius Stefan
6.Kieran Traynor
15.Kevin Docherty
1.Niall McFadden
3.Jonathan Jarron
4.Thomas Baur
5.Kieran Moyles
7.Jack Ewing
9.Reece Mason
10.Jack Crombie
11.Joseph Evenden
12.Lorcan Gray
13.Kornel Durda
14.Keir Russell
15.Campbell Swanson
17.Luke Morris
18.Robbie Walker
19.Reuben Walsh
23.Nicholas Reid
Star Player
Jimmy Johnstone Academy
Spartans FC
Callum Imrie looked comfortable on the ball for his team, as they built a platform in midfield.
Reece Mason was a dangerous presence up front and laid on his side's opener.
Magic Moment
Jimmy Johnstone Academy
Spartans FC
Ashburn's last gasp free kick forced the shoot out.
Crombie's opener came after a good move and swift Spartans break down the right.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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