Preston Athletic 0 – 2 Spartans
Ferrari Packaging Lowland League
Striker Keith Murray returned to the Pennypit with Spartans after spending the last couple of months of 2016 on loan to Preston and showed the Panners what they were missing with two second half goals to settle this match.
With heavy under foot conditions passing football was at a premium but the visitors looked the most likely in the opening stages and Murray was at the heart of everything, his header from close range well saved by Craig Pennycuick then a shot from 25 yards skimmed the top of the bar. Pennycuick then punched a corner against Murray but fortunately for Preston the ball spun just wide, Mark Smith came closest for the Panners with a swirling effort that Blair Carswell tipped over and then Stuart Ritchie drove just wide from the resultant corner. Preston came more into the match as the half wore on frustrating the visitors and reducing them to longer range shots but without really creating any clear cut opportunities themselves.
Moments into the second period though the game turned in Spartans favour as a rushed clearance by Pennycuick fell straight to Murray’s feet, the striker drove forward unchallenged and slotted home from the edge of the area. On the hour Murray made it two, touching home from close range after Pennycuick spilled a low cross into his path.
The loss of the second goal spurred Preston into action and Trialist Ross McKenzie drove a shot just wide, then a neat move by Frazer Henderson and Ritchie set up Smith who just couldn’t get the shot away.
Late on Preston’s Kenny Erskine headed off the line from a Paul Thomson chip and Spartans Carswell gathered a deflected Ritchie strike.
Preston Athletic: Pennycuick, Erskine, R.Cochrane, McLeod, Cowan, Ritchie, Carter, Trialist(Jardine), Henderson(J.Cochrane), Smith, Inglis(Young). Subs: Baines, Law, Reid, Lawson.
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Mair(Ward), Thomson, Tolmie, Greenhill, Beesley(Maxwell), Comrie(Dishington), Murray, Brown, Stevenson. Subs: Gabiola, Townsley, Gilpin.