City show their clinical side as Whites flag in closing 20

EDINBURGH CITY maintained their promotion charge in the South East Region Youth FA's under-13 Division 2 with a 3-2 win over Spartans Whites, but their Ainslie Park hosts, currently bottom of the league, can take plenty of heart from a spirited performance.

Whites, indeed, led 2-1 with just 20 minutes to go after the teams shared two first-half goals, but City came back to win it thanks largely to a couple of assists by the inspirational Jack Pennell.

The defeat was perhaps harsh on Spartans, and especially on their outstanding defender Pietro Gagliardini, whose reading of the game was a significant strength for the home team.

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In one of the few contests to go ahead at the weekend, the sides took to the Pilton artificial surface for their first competitive matches in more than a month.

City, beginning the game in sixth place, had the chance to jump to third and duly rose to the task with a dominant display in the opening half-hour.

A flowing move via the left flank led to an opportunity presented to Pennell, who opted for placement with a side-footed effort from the edge of the penalty area, but the ball cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. City often found space in attack early on, and should have poured more shots on goal instead of over-elaborating in their forward play. One of their few strikes on goal saw John Dunbar's strike easily saved. City's opening goal in the 28th minute was as much down to an unfortunate defensive error as some predatory poaching by the scorer. Bradley Calder seized a short backpass and touched the ball around the goalkeeper before rolling it into the net.

A couple of minutes later, Spartans announced their attacking presence in the most effective fashion, equalising with their first real forward foray when the lively Lewis Walton turned the ball into the right-hand corner of the net from a corner.

Walton's fellow No.9, City counterpart Reece Shearsby, displayed some dizzying close control that almost led to his side restoring the lead. After surging from midfield and leaving a forest of trailing Spartans legs in his wake, Shearsby unselfishly squared the ball for James Campsie who, from the left side of the penalty area, shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Ten minutes into the second half, Spartans had designs on their second consecutive league win when Harvey Stott stabbed the ball into the net from close range. Despite goalkeeper Joshua Thomson's best efforts, Spartans couldn't maintain their lead as City equalised five minutes later.

Pennell's venomous long-range strike was brilliantly palmed away by Thomson but the ball fell to Scott Rae who converted from six yards out.

Pennell was once more the creator as City snatched the winner with 15 minutes remaining, though the difference between the teams at full-time was nothing but a cruel own-goal via a deflection.

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Pennell, the black and whites rampaging No.7, can certainly take credit for swinging a vicious and dangerous cross-cum-shot from the right into the penalty area, but no defence could have accounted for such a pronounced diversion of the ball via the head of Struan Robertson.

Spartans however, on the back of this performance, are certain to emerge stronger from this experience, while City's spirited resilience may prove crucial come the business end of the season.

Spartans Whites: Joshua Thomson, Daniel Hiddleston, Aidan Smith, Struan Robertson, Pietro Gagliardini, James Hamilton, Lewis Walton, Eoghann Douglas, Nicholas Barnett-Johnston, Alasdair Sadler, Harvey Stott, Michael Cameron, Luca Vita, Lewis Christie.

Edinburgh City: Cameron Western, Connor Baptie, Bradley Calder, Michael Watt, James Campsie, Jack Pennell, Jack Lumsden, Reece Shearsby, James Gibson, Scott Rae, Jamie McFarlane, Daniel Horsburgh, John Dunbar, Lewis Black, Cristiano Crolla.