Spartans 2 – 1 Preston Athletic
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The whole game turned in the space of 30 seconds on the hour mark, with Preston leading and restricting the Ainslie Park men to very few opportunities, referee Peter Stuart appeared to miss a foul on Preston’s Gavin Stevenson but then immediately gave the home side a free kick on the edge of the Preston area for a similar offence, Stevenson was booked for his protest and then from the resultant free kick Spartans worked an opening and Stevenson slid in on Jack Beesley to conceded the penalty, the inevitable second yellow and Red card swiftly followed. Beesley dusted himself down and sent keeper Matthew Baines the wrong way to score from the spot. The 10 men then conceded a 2nd on 67 minutes as sub Scott Maxwell cut in from the right and curled a lovely effort in off the post.
Until this point the Preston side had stuck to the game plan brilliantly, retaining their shape, closing down quickly and although Spartans had a lot of the ball preventing any clear sight of goal, but also when the Panners attacked they were causing a threat to the home goal. Despite Spartans possession Preston took a deserved lead on 20 minutes, after forcing a corner on the left, Jack Jardine curled in the kick which was met perfectly by Stuart Ritchie whose glancing header hit the post and bounced into the middle of the area, the ball was partly cleared to Jardine on the edge of the box who fired in a curling shot past ex-Preston keeper Ross Gilpin into the net.
Towards the end of the first period keeper Baines was tested for the first real time in the half but gathered at the second attempt.
Gavin Stevenson cleared off the line within a minute of the re-start but again Preston created a good chance as Danny O’Rourke drifted past 4 men before firing a shot just over, great work on the right by Jardine and Stevenson forced another corner before the game turned in Spartans favour. Even after the equaliser Ritchie tried an overhead kick but was just wide with the effort.
After taking the lead Spartans were able to see out the game as the 10 men tired but the home side were unable to force their way past Baines again in the Preston goal.
Spartans: Gilpin, Thomson, Malone(Brown), Tolmie, Townsley(Mair), Herd, Beesley, Stevenson, Hay, Dishington, Watson(Maxwell). Subs: Comrie, Ward, Gabiola, Carswell
Preston Athletic: Baines, Stevenson, Cochrane, McLeod, Cowan, Innes, Jardine(Colquhoun), O’Rourke, Shave, Ritchie(Neto), Lawson(Graham). Subs: Callan, Erskine, Siegel, Henderson