Whilst Scotland were putting the Republic of Ireland to the sword at Parkhead, Leith Athletic welcomed Spartans to the Commonwealth Stadium for the latest round of the Under 20’s League Cup Qualifying ties, writes Mark Brown
Referee Mark Rennie got the game underway at a bitterly cold Meadowbank 3G with a hardy bunch of supporters keeping an eye – or ear – on events in the second city.
Spartans almost took the lead inside the opening 60 seconds when George Hunter worked hard at the edge of box before setting up Andy Mair who flashed the ball across the face of the goal but there were no takers to turn it home.
The early dominance by the visitors finally paid off when Jordan Brown seized upon a wayward ball across the Leith midfield. His shot was parried away by the busy Leith keeper however he could only push the ball into the path of Dylan Tait who drilled home to open the scoring.
Blair Carswell had to look lively after James Hainey unleashed a speculative long range effort that skidded across the fast 3G surface forcing the Spartans keeper to collect at the second attempt. Play quickly swept from defence to attack within moments from almost being level, Leith found themselves two goals down. A cross from Jordan Brown out wide found Dylan Tait hovering at the back post and he headed home unopposed.
A fine piece of individual skill in the 23rd minute by goal-machine George Hunter saw the striker turn a couple of defenders before sliding the ball under the advancing Leith keeper. Hunter made it 0-4 for Les Atkinson’s side ten minutes later when his thunderbolt strike went in after rattling the crossbar on the way home.
Leith were awarded a penalty with ten minutes of the half remaining. James Hainey was brought down by Carswell as the striker heading away from goal. After the keeper was shown a yellow card for his troubles, Kerr Allan despatched the spot kick to make it 1-4.
On the stroke of half-time, Carswell into a fine point blank save however from the resultant corner kick, Jack Brian nipped in to turn the ball inside the front post. HT Leith Athletic 2-4 Spartans The opening fifteen minutes of the second half saw both teams struggle to get out of first gear and perhaps longing to get back into the relative warmth of the changing rooms that they had decamped to at the interval.
However the game burst back into life on the hour mark and it was to begin a remarkable cat and mouse game of who would score next.
James Hainey grabbed his second of the night to pull the deficit back to a single goal with a delightfully struck effort from the edge of the box which nestled in the bottom corner of Carswell’s net.
Jamie Dishington’s 76th minute free-kick from deep inside the Leith half picked out his Captain Paul Dickson who has the freedom of the home box to head home to restore Spartans two goal window.
A defiant Leith stuck in and perhaps the contender for goal of the night came when Dylan Muir unleashed a fantastic strike from 18 yards out which flew over the outstretched arm of Carswell into the net to make it 4-5.
The celebrations had barely finished by the time Tait notched up his hat-trick after poking the ball home inside the Leith penalty area to score the game’s tenth goal!
Any hopes of another fight back from the home side were dashed as the game went into injury time. Tait’s defence cutting pass to Blair Atkinson saw the replacement striker hit the post however just moments later he was racing into the Leith box to slide the ball under the keeper to finish proceedings.
FT: Leith Athletic 4-7 Spartans