The Spartans retained the South Challenge Cup Final at Tynecastle to maintain their stranglehold on the East of Scotland Football League – they hold all the trophies they are eligible to compete in and won the league title with five games to spare.
After Edinburgh City eventually overcame Heston Rovers in the semi-finals there was a great deal of interest in this final as it featured two of the most established teams in the league, add into the mix that Edinburgh City are one of the few teams to take points off Spartans this season and there was a suspicion that there could be an upset on the cards. However, this victory was never in doubt after Spartans sneaked ahead.
Dean Hoskins was the first to test Andrew Stobie in the Edinburgh City goal with a curling cross from the touchline that was dipping under the City bar before Stobie frantically back-peddled to tip the ball over the bar. It wasn’t long before City did fall behind though, gifting Spartans two free headers in the box, Chris Townsley powering the initial header from the edge of the area towards goal before OMAR KADAR delicately flicked the ball past Stobie to give Spartans the lead after 16 minutes that they never surrendered.
Edinburgh City did have their chances to peg Spartans back though, Robbie Ross missing the best of them after outpacing the Spartans into the box a bad touch took the ball wide and his shot across the goal was comfortably palmed away by Chris Flockhart. Ross Macnamara also went close for City with an acrobatic effort but Flockhart reacted quick enough to beat the ball high over the bar.
Shortly after that tough the game was over as a contest 10 minutes before half time. O’Donnell firing the ball across the 6 yard line only to find it blocked by the arm of Ruaridh Scott, referee Stephen Finnie pointed immediately to the spot but the award looked harsh on Scott who was falling down as the ball hit him. Regardless, GAVIN MALIN emphatically converted the penalty kick into the keeper’s top left hand corner.
After the break Spartans continued to dominate and went 3-0 up after 58 minutes. Ross Archibald sliding a low cross through the City defence to find OMAR KADAR completely unmarked in the 6 yard box who easily converted past Stobie. Kadar could have had a cup final hat-trick but after jinking past Macnamara and Scott he was thwarted by a low stop from Stobie.
After conceding the third goal City heads certainly went down and Robbie Ross picked up a petulant booking, Jack Beesley sticking the ball between his legs only for Ross to slide in on him from behind. Ross was immediately hauled off by the City coaching staff and they rallied after that to create a few late chances. However, the last word was to go to Andrew Stobie in the City goal who saved a late penalty from Ross Archibald after Donal Henretty was hauled down. It was a great save from the young keeper on loan from East Fife who had to dive at full stretch to palm it away.
On the day Spartans were by far the better team, certainly worthy of the win and City co-manager Gary Jardine admitted as much after the match despite grumbling about the award of the award of the first penalty. This was the third season in a row that Spartans have won the South Challenge Cup and their co-manager Mickey Lawson was clearly delighted after winning the most prestigious cup on offer saying “Our name’s on the trophy – and it’s staying on it!”
Written by David Mackay