Spartans FC Youth U16s progressed to the third round of the SYFA South East Region Cup after beating Broxburn Athletic Colts U16s 3-1 on penalties following a 2-2 stalemate at Ainslie Park on Sunday.
Callum Chinyanga put Broxburn ahead midway through the first half before Charlie Smith doubled the away side’s lead almost immediately after half-time.
Spartans kept at it though, and pulled one back via a Jack Cameron penalty before the comeback was completed three minutes later thanks to Ola Benson’s speculative effort slithering beyond the goalkeeper.
Straight to penalties, we went with Spartans keeper Kieren Murray emerging as the hero following three crucial penalty saves which helped his side to a 3-1 shootout victory.
Spartans now wait to find out their opponents in the third round, with ties taking place on the 11th and 12th of November.
A close game was on the cards coming into this one – Spartans emerged 4-2 victors when these sides met earlier in the league campaign, but Broxburn were buoyed by their 9-1 thrashing of East Calder United in the previous round of this competition.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium in the opening exchanges, with both sides registering just one shot each as the rain swirled around Ainslie Park. Jack Hope went close for Broxburn inside two minutes before Benson’s powerful effort was bravely blocked by the Broxburn centre half.
It was the away side who opened the scoring on 21 minutes – perhaps against the run of play – when Evan Slater expertly slipped in Chinyanga with a delicate through ball and the striker calmly slotted low beyond Murray from six yards.
The goal did little to kick the Spartans into gear, though, with nothing to report in terms of goalmouth action for the remainder of the half. Instead, the key battle was in the middle of the park as both sides tirelessly tried to get the ball down and play on the increasingly slippery surface – often to no avail.
It took just two minutes after the restart for Broxburn to bag their second goal as Smith’s bullet header from around six yards out following Ryan Long’s pinpoint corner left the keeper with no chance.
Seconds later Broxburn were through on goal again – this time Hope did well to skip past the Spartans goalkeeper, but the backtracking defender mopped up the danger before he could fire into an empty net.
To their credit, Spartans did not give up the fight and won themselves a penalty when Benson was felled by Broxburn defender Smith in the 62nd minute. Up stepped Cameron who coolly sent Ben Hope the wrong way and rolled the ball into the bottom right corner.
The home side, with a renewed sense of urgency, drew the game level three minutes later when Benson cut infield from the left and hit a low shot from 20 yards which Hope spilled into the net – the keeper had every right to blame the slippery conditions for his unfortunate error.
With time running out, both sides began to commit more men forward in search of a winner but ultimately neither team could carve out a proper opportunity in front of goal.
Much to the relief of everyone involved and watching on in the torrential rain, we went straight to penalties. Spartans were up first but this time Cameron’s effort drifted wide of the left post. Slater then stepped up for Broxburn and expertly placed his penalty into the bottom left corner to give his side the lead in the shootout. Spartans then scored their next three penalties via Hugo Boyle, Jack Marr and Isak Penman, while Broxburn’s Jay Brown, Ciaran Devlin and Chinyanga all saw their efforts saved by Murray, meaning the home side ran out 3-1 victors in the shootout and progressed to the third round of the cup.
Both sides’ attention now turns to the Scottish Cup, with Spartans travelling to face Musselburgh Windsor next Sunday and Broxburn making the Friday evening trip to Edinburgh City.
Spartans FC Youth Player of the Match: Ola Benson
It’s very harsh on goalkeeper Kieren Murray whose penalty heroics ultimately won the tie, but in terms of the match itself, the striker was at the heart of everything Spartans did in an attacking sense and managed to bag the crucial equaliser for his side.
Broxburn Athletic Colts Player of the Match: Callum Chinyanga
The powerful striker was always causing problems for the Spartans’ backline thanks to his pace and directness and got himself on the scoresheet thanks to a well-taken opening goal.
Spartans FC Youth Magic Moment
Kieren Murray’s three excellent penalty saves can be grouped into one moment which singlehandedly won Spartans the shootout and therefore the tie. Goalkeepers would be happy to walk away with just one shootout save so this was no mean feat.
Broxburn Athletic Colts Magic Moment
Although it ultimately proved to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, Chinyanga’s goal was the result of a well-worked Broxburn team move, including a perfectly weighted defence-splitting pass from Slater.
Spartans FC Youth U16s:
1. Kieren Murray
2. Alan McIntosh
3. Lochie Tully
4. Jack Cameron
7. Josh Smith
8. Preston Kennedy
9. Daniel Burns
10. Hugo Boyle
11. Harrison Shaw
13. Max Scelton
14. Ola Benson
15. Ford Mills
16. Isak Penman
18. Denzel Nyamutswa
19. Jack Marr
20. Charlie Cusiter
Broxburn Athletic Colts U16s:
1. Ben Hope
2. Ciaran Devlin
3. Taylor Fraser
4. Alexander Morris
5. Ryan Long
6. Daniel Curran
7. Jay Robert Brown
8. Evan Slater
9. Jack Hope
10. Jayden Grant
11. Billy Stirling
12. Brodie Coyle
14. Callum Chinyanga
16. Jadon Victor-Uadiale
17. Charlie Smith
18. Harrison Lee
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