Spirited Spartans edge nine-goal thriller

Spartans FC Whites 14s emerged 5-4 winners in the final of the SERYFA Division Four League Cup over the boys and girls of Fernieside Colts in an enthralling encounter at Ainslie Park.

The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with the lead changing on several occasions as both sides were able to utilise their attacking players to great effect.

Spartan FC Whites coach Hugh Cullen paid tribute to his players who have enjoyed a severe upturn in fortune since the beginning of the year.

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He said: “It really shows how much the team has come on as we were thrashed by Fernieside at the start of the season. But we have only lost two games in 2012 and have been absolutely outstanding, so it’s great to win a cup final.”

Spartans began the match at a frantic pace and almost grabbed an early goal within the opening minute. Striker Samuel Nhamboro spotted Fernieside goalkeeper Neil Lennie off his line and tried an audacious lob that went a fraction wide of the far post.

However, two minutes later, Spartans did find the back of the net and it was a goal worthy of gracing any cup final. The ball broke to Daniel Anderson 25 yards from goal and he smashed a swerving shot high over Lennie which crashed off the underside of the bar and into the net.

However, Fernieside gradually began to force their way back into the match with some pressure of their own and were rewarded with the equaliser after 15 minutes.

A corner from the right was swung deep into Spartans’ box and Christopher Jeffrey was on hand to power a header home.

Spartans should have regained the lead shortly after, but Cameron Wightman couldn’t convert after being played through by Nhamboro’s neat pass.

Fernieside then struck twice in the space of five minutes, the first goal arriving courtesy of Conner Stevenson’s simplest of tap-ins before great wing-play from goal scorer Stevenson sent Jeffrey through, and despite a tight angle, dispatched the ball into the corner to make it 3-1.

However, Spartans were not deflated and struck back immediately. Nhamboro used his speed to great effect and was able to outmuscle his opponent to win a chase to the ball and finished clinically beyond Lennie from 12 yards. The opening minutes of the second half were relatively calm in comparison with the first, as both sides looked to rediscover their rhythm.

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However, the score was level at 3-3 after a crucial mistake from Fernieside defender Callum Sibley, who allowed the ball to slip under his foot, and Gabriel Hill raced through on goal to finish coolly.

Then just as it appeared Nhamboro would put Spartans ahead, Sibley redeemed himself with a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent the Spartans No.9 from his second goal of the game.

Nhamboro was proving a real handful for the Fernieside defence and he once again showed his class with a deft chip from the edge of the area which came back off the top of the bar.

A terrific cross from Caitlin Russell almost picked out the run of Stevenson, but he just missed a touch at the near post as both sides went in search of a winner. With ten minutes remaining, Fernieside edged in front 4-3 through David Ryles’ close range strike after a great corner from the left from Kelsey Boyle.

Spartans were not to be outdone, however, and Scott Bottomley hammered in from close range to level it at 4-4 after Nhamboro’s thunderous strike had initially been blocked.

A remarkable game drew to a close with the winner in the final minute as Cameron Wanstall found space down the right, and crossed perfectly for Hill to notch in at the back post to send his Spartans teammates into ecstasy.

Fernieside Colts’ Zander Russell felt tiredness crept in towards the end of the match. He said: “I thought we played well. The girls and boys did us proud, but I think we ran out of legs in the end. We gave away some silly goals, but overall it was a decent performance.”

Spartans FC Whites: Finlay Kidd, Sean Harrison, Ronan Harrison, Callum Millar, Nile Falconer, Euan Rolland, Cameron Wanstall, Samuel Nhamboro, Daniel Anderson, Cameron Wightman, Daniel Sherval, Gabriel Hill, Scott Bottomley, Rhys Hutton.

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Fernieside Colts: Neil Lennie, Billy Robertson, David Ryles, Chelsea Anna Cornet, Callum Russell, Callum Sibley, Kelsey Boyle, Conner Stevenson, Caitlin Russell, Ray Betts, Christopher Jeffrey, Lauren Watters, Cameron Wanstall.