IMAGE PRINTERS QUALIFYING CUP
GEORGE RILEY reports from Ainslie Park
UNITED put up a spirited display against Premier Division leaders Spartans at Ainslie Park, but eventually succumbed to the sheer persistence of the home side.
Kelso were under pressure for most of the match, but some fine defending kept Spartans at bay until they broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.
United manager Prof Blaikie was satisfied with the team’s performance.
“It was a good test for the boys, playing a top side, and their workrate and performance was commendable,” he said.
“We did a lot of chasing and harrowing, but the team stuck to their task well.”
It was indeed United who had the first shot at goal after five minutes when Steven Tait unleashed a shot from 30 yards, which was well held by Spartans keeper Chris Flockhart.
The home team started to turn the screw after 10 minutes and a good run by Andy Martin down the right found top scorer Keith McLeod in the box and his right-footed shot rattled the crossbar and went over. Two minutes later, Spartans hit the crossbar again when a looping cross from Chris Anderson was headed at the back post by Martin, the winger’s effort bouncing on top of the bar before going out.
A snap shot from 20 yards by striker Donal Henretty was well held by Scott Dowie in the United goal. A good ball from Chris Black found Des Burnett bearing down on goal, but the assistant referee judged that the striker was offside.
The home side eventually broke the United defence after 40 minutes when a neat chip into the box by defender Gary Cennerazzo found midfielder Willie Bremner in space and he made no mistake with his finish from eight yards.
Spartans started strongly at the start of the second half when Dowie was called into action twice. The keeper turned a powerful header from Alasdair MacKinnon over the bar from a Martin corner and then saved a shot from McLeod following good work by Anderson.
United had their best chance of the match after the hour mark when a through ball from Black found Burnett, who outstripped the defence, the striker’s shot was goalbound, but keeper Flockhart managed to get a leg to the ball and divert away.
The home side went two-up after 66 minutes when a cross from the right found Bremner at the edge of the box. The midfielder’s shot was half-stopped by Dowie, who took a lot of pace off the ball, but it rolled over the line to give Bremner his double.
United replied with shots from Damien McNulty and Burnett, but both went wide of the target.
Spartans got their third from the penalty spot with six minutes left when former United player Jack Beesley was tripped in the box by substitute Calum McLure and McLeod stepped up to send Dowie the wrong way.
Kelso United: S. Dowie, G. McNulty, S. Angus (D. Richardson), S. Harker, S. Tait, D. McNulty, C. Black (C. McClure), M. Laidler, D. Burnett, L. Wallace, J. Lauder (G. Gillie).