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Blackburn battle to hard-fought victory over Spartans

Blackburn United U16s edged past Spartans U16s by one goal to nil in South East Region YFA’s Division One on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Ainslie Park Stadium.

Scott Thompson scored what turned out to be the winner for the away side with a calmly executed goal from close range following an excellent through ball.

Spartans continued to fight deep into the second half but could not quite find a route to goal as they fell to their sixth defeat of the league campaign.

The result means that Blackburn are now just one point behind Spartans in third place but with three games in hand as the season reaches its conclusion over the next few weeks.

Second versus third – in a top-half as close as SERYFA Division One is – was always going to be an interesting watch. Only four points separated the sides going into this one, and the away side were looking for revenge after Spartans’ 3-2 victory on Blackburn’s patch earlier in the season.

The full 80 minutes were played at a frantic pace as both sides threw themselves into tackles and looked to test the opposing backline. A good few yellow cards were dished out throughout the game, as the battle for a vital three points intensified.

Spartans went close on 14 minutes when a half-volley from close range was well saved by Blackburn goalkeeper Cooper McHolm. It was then home keeper Kieren Murray’s turn to be tested as he dived to his right to push behind Kyle Coulter’s first-time effort following some good link-up play with Thompson.

A couple of half-chances came and went for both teams – Zac Bradley’s outside-of-the-foot effort flew over the bar from six yards for Blackburn, and Spartans’ Hugo Boyle struck a speculative effort from distance which was gathered by McHolm.

The away side then had a penalty shout waved away by the referee who felt that the recovering Spartans defender got the ball during his last-ditch attempt to prevent the Blackburn striker from getting a shot away.

Just before half-time Blackburn were rewarded for their persistence in resisting a ‘route one’ approach. Thompson perfectly timed his run to stay onside and get on the end of Josh Sloan’s through ball before running into the box, cutting past the defender, and calmly slotting beyond Murray into the bottom corner.

‘A game of two halves’ this was not, as the second period was played in the same vein as the first – fast-paced and physical with little goalmouth action.

Blackburn found some success down the right flank with several corners won and a few crosses coming from that area, though nothing came of anything. One such cross fell to the feet of Yoann Obaonrin when Spartans’ Denzel Nyamutswa was caught on his heels, but the defender did well to block the resulting effort before going up the other end and heading just over from a corner.

Spartans – a team used to scoring goals after banging four past Leith Athletic in their previous outing – will probably be slightly disappointed with their attacking efforts in the second half. Ola Benson looked to be the home side’s brightest spark with his pace and skill on the ball causing a few issues down the right wing, though the Blackburn backline were equal to almost everything thrown at them.

Five minutes from time, the ball broke to Spartans’ Daniel Burns on the edge of the box but he perhaps snatched at it and watched McHolm gather his tame effort with ease before the referee signalled for full-time.

Blackburn’s solitary goal sees them move just one point behind their Edinburgh hosts who retain second place in Division One, though United have three games in hand. Easter Sunday next weekend means both sides have a free week, and they’ll look to recharge their batteries ahead of an intense run-in.

Spartans Player of the Match: Ola Benson

The right-winger looked to be the home side’s best chance of bagging a goal, using his pace to singlehandedly carve out a couple of opportunities which could have gone a different way on another day.

Blackburn United Player of the Match: Chris Lambie

Blackburn’s captain looked assured throughout the game and vocally led his team to an important victory. The centre-back also won more of his fair share of ariel duels to help secure a clean sheet.

Spartans Magic Moment:

The home side may be disappointed that no single moment stands out, but their defensive display in the second half deserves a mention – particularly keeper Kieren Murray who dealt well with several corners, and Denzel Nyamutswa who often came out on top during his battle with Blackburn’s left winger.

Blackburn United Magic Moment:

Scott Thompson’s goal was the culmination of an excellent team move, with the striker carefully watching the defensive line before making his move at just the right time and reaping the rewards.

Spartans U16s

1. Kieren Murray (GK)

2. Alan McIntosh

4. Jack Cameron (C)

6. Christopher Mill

7. Josh Smith

8. Preston Kennedy

9. Daniel Burns

10. Hugo Boyle

11. Harrison Shaw

12. Ezequiel Camacho

14. Ola Benson

15. Ford Mills

16. Isak Penman

17. Mohammed Elnageh

18. Denzel Nyamutswa

19. Jack Marr

20. Charlie Cusiter

Blackburn United U13s

1. Cooper McHolm (GK)

2. Derek Newall

3. Blair Flood

4. Josh Sloan

7. Evan Smillie

8. Bailey McNally

9. Scott Thompson

10. Kyle Coulter

11. Zac Bradley

15. Chris Lambie (C)

17. Lochlan McKnight

18. Jayden Douglas

19. Yoann Obaonrin

20. Seb Neculai

25. Aiden Hewitt


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