Going into this cup final you perhaps would have found it difficult to separate these two teams, with both performing well in their league campaigns this season. However, a clinical Spartans side were able to breeze past a hardworking Loanhead on a scorching hot day in Bonnyrigg.
You would think the conditions may have left the players of both sides feeling somewhat lethargic, but the match started at an electric pace from the first whistle, as neither team wanted to give their opponents a split second on the ball and, as a result, chances were few and far between in the opening stages.
The towering Cameron Dawson created the first real chance of danger in the seventh minute with a low driven ball across the box, but Mark Mackay just couldn’t reach it in time to convert. He went one step closer to opening the scoring five minutes later, when he latched onto the through ball and attempted a cheeky dink over the onrushing keeper. It may have beat Ross Jardine, in goal, but it didn’t find the back of the net and it was cleared before anybody could apply a finish.
Loanhead, and particularly Aidan McMillan, were working hard to get themselves the first goal as his first thought was always to take his man on, but they just couldn’t create anything clear-cut. Joshua Fital also threatened, with a series of inviting deliveries being flung into the box from set pieces, with the right back also trying his luck from range on a few occasions.
The opening goal was always going to be difficult to create in a frantic match like this, but it came in the 19th minute of the match for Spartans. Although there was a large degree of luck when a defensive clearance went completely wrong after an unfortunate bobble and Mackay found himself one-on-one. Whilst the goal had a hint of fortune about it, the finish that followed was sheer composure, as Mackay stroked the ball into the far corner and Jardine could only get a hand to it.
Loanhead then had a series of threatening corners which caused problems, but ultimately failed to result in a clear cut chance. Calum Crawford also went close with a good first time effort on 22 minutes, but his shot was always rising.
Set pieces also posed a goal-scoring opportunity for Spartans as well, as Josh Williamson rose highest to connect with Lewis Hall’s inviting delivery on 27 minutes, but his low header was well held by the alert Jardine, who got down low to cover his far post.
Jardine was called into action only a few minutes later, and this time, produced an even more impressive save. The ball was played up to Mackay, who turned provider this time, chesting the ball down for Dawson who hit a fierce first-time effort, but Jardine threw himself at the ball and tipped it over the bar with barely a second to set himself. Dawson then had another crack from the resulting corner, but he was only able to divert his effort wide as the ball came in with such pace.
McMillan looked hell-bent on dragging his side level and was so unlucky to hit the post ten minutes from half time. He drove at the defence, went inside and outside, struck a low effort and it cannoned off the woodwork and behind for a goal kick, his team’s best chance up until that point.