Spartans FC Reds picked up the third Scottish Youth FA Cup in the club’s history over league rivals Leith Athletic, in an engrossing match between two high-scoring teams. The class of 2003 joined the recent successes at 1995 and 1999, becoming the youngest side from the North Edinburgh club to ever lift the top honour.
It’s not often you score 43 goals over seven games to reach a final and still end up being the less prolific of the two teams, but that was the case for Leith. From the day the beat Broxburn Athletic Colts 8-1 (which was also the only goal they conceded in the competition until the semi final), Leith looked like a team capable of going all the way.
The glory was Spartans’ though and three double-digit wins in the first three rounds laid down the gauntlet to all comers. A five-star performance from Josh Currie on a trip to Dyce in the fifth round was one of the highlights, after which coach Kevin Wilson said: “We want to stay in the competitions as long as we can,” and he seems to have got his wish – and more, as two 4-2 wins (over Drumsagard and Barrhead YFC) catapulted this clinical outfit into the final.
The match got off to a frantic start and inside the first minute Spartans had a chance to take the lead. Lawson McConnell’s delivery was met by Kyle Roberston, but he couldn’t keep his header down.
Leith were next to come close as the match raged from end to end. Cameron Kerr showed good movement and pace to latch onto a through ball, but he couldn’t find a way past Spartans goalkeeper Lewis Fox. Another chance came their way shortly afterwards, with Fox saving again, this time from a powerful Owen Gray effort.
Both sides know each other well and perhaps it helped them settle. The confidence on the big stage by both sets of players was admirable, with both teams getting the ball down at every opportunity and spraying passes along the deck. Possession was even and at this stage it was anyone’s game.
Spartans were next to come close and they must have thought they had taken the lead when Glen Lorimer’s strike crashed off the bar. However, they didn’t have long to wait. A measured pass into Josh Currie’s path was placed into the bottom left hand corner by the advancing striker.
Any thoughts of Leith heads going down quickly vanished as the boys in black and white bounced back immediately. Kerr combined well with Ethan Wynne and both had efforts stopped by Spartans keeper Fox.
Like before, pressure was rewarded and this meant Leith equalising before the interval. Ben Murray picked out John Ward in the box and he made no mistake to level up the scores.