Unusually, the team was hit by last minute illness and call offs and we only had eleven players and no subs. For a normally much larger squad, it was clear that this would be a tough gig, with lots of running around and no breaks.
The start of the game was fairly tepid, but it sparked into life at 20 minutes, when a speculative long range shot from Jack was fumbled by their keeper. 1-0. Their tails were up, and shortly afterwards a Messi-esque dink over the keeper from Jack made it 2-0.
At this point, it looked as if it would be yet another victory to add to the impressive recent unbeaten run. However, St Bernard’s scored a bullet header from a corner. Defending corners is an Achilles heel for our team, and something we need to continue to work on at training.
The game settled down after that and Spartans were definitely in control in the first half. Robert, our new goalie, had a watching brief for most of the first half, but was effective when called upon. We perhaps weren’t our usual fluid passing side, with a lot of balls bypassing the midfield for Ben D and Jack to continually chase.
St Bernard’s re-emerged in the second half with more determination and bite. Their right winger, a thorn in the side all game, sent a terrific cross early doors into the corridor of uncertainty. It came off one of our defenders into the net, but it was the quality of the delivery which made it difficult to defend. 2-2.
A few minutes later, a deflected shot looped over our keeper and put St Bernard’s 3-2 ahead. To be fair to the opposition, they smelled victory and kept the pressure up. Robert pulled off a series of great saves to keep us in the game.
Gary swapped Liam and Harvey to different wings, and, in a last roll of the dice, sent Ben M up front for the last 10 minutes. This changed the complexion of the game and we had wave after wave of attack raining down on their penalty box. It was like the Charge of the Light Brigade with relentless pressure on their defence.
However, they had a couple of quick, no-nonsense defenders, who kept snuffing out the danger. We had multiple shots, any of which could have gone in, culminating in Paolo hitting the crossbar. On the sidelines, you began to get the feeling it just wasn’t our day.
It was no surprise that, with so many committed up front, we lost another goal at the death to a St Bernard’s breakaway.
Full Time: St Bernard’s 4-2 Spartans FC Youth (2003)
A disappointing exit from the Sportsassist South East Scotland Cup, but we remain in several other cup competitions. We played attractive football in spells, but St Bernard’s were a decent team, and showed a little more desire at crucial points in the game.
Overall, our team has really improved since the start of the season, playing a very attractive style of quick passing football. It wasn’t easy without subs, but those playing will have improved their fitness. Today was a minor setback, but the boys will learn lessons and bounce back.
Stephen Glancy (coach)