Leith dig deep to fight back and deny Spartans

SPARTANS and Leith Athletic achieved the impossible when they managed to get their Lothian Buses under-15 league fixture played at Edinburgh Academy, while most other pitches in Edinburgh were virtually under water due to the incessant rainfall.

Spartans looked as if they would sweep Leith Athletic aside in the early stages and got their just reward when Craig Low beat the Leith offside trap on the left to send a low shot into the opposite corner to make it 1-0.

Things looked ominous for the visiting side when Spartans went 2-0 ahead with an absolute stunner of a goal from Paul Henderson, who fired home from fully 25 yards out. That goal could have knocked the stuffing out of some teams, but Leith Athletic can always be expected to fight back and their under-15s duly did just that with Steve Handren hammering home his side's first goal of the game with a cracking left-foot shot after being set up by the hard-working Connor Douglas.

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Spartans' build-up to their third goal was nothing short of excellent and it was Henderson who finished off a great move when he collected a pass from Low to send a perfectly-judged lob over keeper Jake Louden.

But Leith then found the target again to reduce the deficit to 3-2 as a free kick from the right caught the Spartans defenders ball watching and the unmarked Handren was free at the back post to send a well-judged header past home keeper Thomas Swinney.

After their half-time team talk, Leith got much closer to the home players and shut down the passing that had caused them so many problems in the first half. The stranglehold Spartans had enjoyed in the midfield prior to the break was broken as the Leith players closed them down at every opportunity.

Even then, the home side created enough clear-cut chances to score a few more goals, but Leith Athletic were a team transformed, with big No.4 William Jaquet an inspiring figure in the centre of the visiting defence.

Spartans then they gave away a free-kick 22 yards out in the centre of the pitch and Christopher Dunn sent a great shot past the defensive wall and the ball crashed into the net to square the game at 3-3.

In almost the final act of the game, Jed Grieve broke through the Leith defence on a one-to-one with Louden, only to see his shot blocked by the goalkeeper's legs and the final whistle went with the points shared in this 3-3 draw.

Spartans: Thomas Swinney, Daniel Shields, Max Mitchell, Scott Noble, Jack McKinley, Fraser Hunter, Greg Atkinson, Isaac Imrie, Michael Duncan, Paul Henderson, Craig Low, Jonathan Hepburn, Jed Grieve, Sean Veitch.

Leith Athletic: Jake Louden, Lewis Grant, Neil Fleming, William Jaquet, Christopher Dunn, Keiran MacDonald, Euan Morrice, Connor Douglas, Darren Barclay, Steven Handren, David Ireland, Greig Fulton, Shaun Leslie, Andrew McLennan, Ryan Aird.

Referee: Ronnie Lauder.