Five goals in sixteen decisive minutes helped Spartans Youth see off Division 2’s AC Oxgangs 6-1 at Ainslie Park, advancing them to the next round of the Craig Gowans Memorial Cup. In a display involving some great one and two-touch passing, the home team combined aesthetics with goals as they seek to return to the final.
Matters did not begin smoothly for last season's runners-up, however, with passes the wrong side of runs and Oxgangs offering dangerous pace on the resulting breaks. Rory Ferguson and Leo Neil both nearly got beyond the last man as the visitors threatened, their endeavours coming either side of a Spartans shot by Keir Russell that keeper Lachlan Bradford saved with his legs.
Yet by the quarter hour the Division 1 team had their shape. Midfielders Adam Dodds, Jack Crombie and Rory Hamilton made a fluid central three, with forward Reece Mason dropping to give another give-and-go option. When things got congested, the ball went wide to Russell on the right, or Joseph Evenden out left.
It was Evenden who set-up the opening goal in the 17th minute, getting beyond the fullback and crossing for Kieran McCallum to conclude his near post run with a neat flick home. Spartans were one up and quickly after two via Evenden, left back Luke Morris, and Mason. Offering mirth amongst the flurry of efforts, the referee accidentally waved a red card instead of a yellow, inspiring some good-humoured chuckles.
Possession, and the high defence it allows, can be a team’s downfall. Ten minutes before half time an Oxgangs through ball suddenly split Spartans’ centre backs, sending Ferguson roaring through. Keeper Josh Scoon spread himself to save with his shins. When a Joe McGowan free kick evaded everyone and bounced just past Scoon’s right post a minute late, it was a reminder this was still game on.