Shippy lose out in five goal thriller.
Despite playing for seventy two minutes with only ten men it was only the width of the post that denied the Shipyard a share of the spoils at Ainslie Park. Having taken the lead early on and then pegged back, a straight red card for Shaun Keatings made it look like it was going to be a long night for the Shipyard. The signs were ominous when Spartans went ahead but Keith Buckley scored his second of the night to draw the visitor’s level but another goal for Spartans just before half-time which turned out to be the winner, sealed the Shipyard’s fate. Craig Lowe, Kevin Masson and JP McPhail dropped out of the squad from Saturday and they were replaced by Brendan Napier, Adam Doig and Daniel Watt.
The Shipyard saw a strong appeal for handball turned down in the second minute but they stunned their hosts by taking the lead two minutes later. Napier played a great ball into Buckley and the big striker rounded the keeper and although he went a bit wide he was still able to lash the ball high into the net. This setback seemed to spur Spartans on and David Stewart missed a good chance from close range. In the 10th minute Michael Gray hit a speculative shot from outside the box that hit the underside of the bar before the ball was cleared. Spartans drew level in the 13th minute and it was desperately unlucky for Jordan Mushet when he pulled off a superb save from Sebastian Pyda, however, the same man was on hand to knock the loose ball home. Things looked bleak for the Shipyard in the 18th minute when Keatings was shown a red card for a sly kick at his opponent off the ball. The hosts now started to pile on the pressure and Pyda missed a chance at the back post and then Mushet was relieved to see a deflected effort go narrowly wide. Spartans took the lead in the 26th minute when Lucasz Rusin’s powerful shot took a slight deflection and beat Mushet’s despairing dive. The Shipyard were almost level in the 37th minute when Ross Gilpin did well to tip over Buckley’s shot. The Shipyard did draw level from the resultant corner. Blair Smart gathered the deep kick and his ball into the six yard box was turned home by Buckley from a couple of yards. With just a couple of minutes of the half remaining Spartans regained the lead when full back Blair McWhirter was allowed to cut inside and he fired an unstoppable shot into the net from 20 yards. Mushet pulled off a good save just before the half time whistle.
The Shipyard were able to contain the Spartans attacks more comfortably in the second half and although Spartans had the lion’s share of possession Mushet was not over worked in the Shipyard goals. He was out bravely at the feet of Rusin with a couple of minutes to go but by this stage the Shipyard were looking the more likelier. However luck was not on the visitor’s side as when Joe Samson whipped in a free-kick the ball hit the home defender and bounced back off the post to deny the Shipyard a dramatic late equaliser.
After the match Myles did not dwell on the sending off when he said “Shaun knows it was a moment of madness and has apologised to everyone and that’s the end of the matter”. He went on to look at the positives by adding “The rest of the lads found themselves in a really tough situation and you really see the character of a team in those situations. I’m really proud of the work rate and commitment of them. Every one of them put in a great shift and almost got their just reward in injury time. We knew we’d spend long spells out of possession but we still tried to play football and kept two strikers up front. We had a fair amount of pressure in the last ten minutes and on another day; the one that hit the post could have gone in”. Looking ahead the manager pointed out “A win down at Eyemouth on Saturday still gives us a very good chance of progressing so we must be absolutely focused on putting in another excellent performance. Anything less than that will not be good enough”.
Spartans: R. Gilpin; B. McWhirter; R. Cochrane; K. Boyes; S. Clapperton; D. Stewart; I. Ballantyne; M. Gray; M. Cunningham; L. Rusin; S. Pyda. Subs: P. Roberts; A. Brown; B. Raiker; S. Cameron; L. McIntosh.
Burntisland Shipyard: J. Mushet; P. Bell; E. Anderson; B. Smart; A. MacDonald; C. Samson; S. Keatings; B. Napier (B. Rogerson); E. Henderson (A. Doig); K. Buckley (D. Watt); D. Robertson.
Referee: C. Newman.