Tuesday 5 July 2016, 19.30, Ainslie Park
My second pre-season friendly sees Lowland League Spartans face Scottish League One club Airdrieonians.
The Spartans Football Club was established in 1951 and joined the East of Scotland League. The club was originally formed for former university and college footballers but the constitution now allows “other interested parties” to join. The club became full members of the Scottish Football Association in 1976.
Spartans have a fantastic record in the Scottish Cup and have been a match for many league sides over the years, East Stirlingshire, Alloa Athletic, Clyde, Morton, Berwick Rangers and Queens Park have been defeated, while draws have been secured against Stenhousemuir, Cowdenbeath, East Fife, Arbroath, Berwick Rangers, St Mirren and Clyde. In 2003-4 they got as far as the fourth round when they faced then Premier League side Livingston at their former home City Park.
Spartans have teams of all ages and also a women’s side. After much success in the East of Scotland League, they joined the new Scottish Lowland League in 2013-14. They won the inaugural competition and are regularly challenging for the title each year.
Spartans have signed defenders Blair Tolmie from Newtongrange Star and East Stirlingshire’s Chris Townsley, who is returning to the club. Spartans played their first pre-season game at East Fife on Saturday and lost by four goals to nil.
After originally being formed in 1878, Airdrieonians went into liquidation in May 2002. Airdrie United emerged from the ashes and won the Bells Challenge Cup in 2008. The name Airdrieonians was restored in time for the start of the 2013-14 season.
The clubs most successful period was in the 1920s, when they won the Scottish Cup for the only time in 1924. They challenged for the league title regularly with only Celtic and Rangers able to keep them at bay. They have often had giant killing cup runs since then, but another trophy has been elusive. They were also awarded the game’s first ever penalty kick, in 1891.
Airdrie have signed Irish defender Joe Gorman, midfielder Ryan Conroy and Iain Russell from Queen of the South, Irish midfielder James Daly, Dutch striker Kevin Schmidt and striker Andy Ryan from Forfar Athletic.
This is Airdrie’s third pre-season friendly after convincing wins at Gala Fairydean Rovers and Clyde.
There’s around 160 in the ground with a good few from Airdrie making the trip to Edinburgh.
The earliest moment of note came after 8 minutes when Airdrie got the first corner of the game. Clearly a planned routine as all those attacking the ball lined up on the corner of the box nearest the taker. This was ruined when Conroy’s cross didn’t get past the first defender.
No shortage of effort from both sides, but there was very little in the way of attempts on goal.
Airdrie’s Reilly tried an overhead kick from the edge of the box in 26 minutes, but it landed on top of the net.
A Spartans corner in 35 minutes was fumbled by Ferguson in the Airdrie goal, but he managed to get hold of the ball under pressure.
There was three minutes to half time when a woman behind me asked her companion “Are Spartans in blue?” It was that kind of game.
Right on half time, Spartans Herd played the ball across to Ward, whose acrobatic effort was held low by Ferguson.
Five minutes into the second half Toure was through for Airdrie, but Carswell was out quickly to save with his legs.
Toure was involved again in 54 minutes, when a ball was played into his feet. He managed to turn and get his shot away, but it was a comfortable save for Carswell.
A half chance for Spartans a minute later for Stevenson, but the Spartans midfielder got under the ball and it went high over the bar.
Higgins played a dangerous ball into the Spartans box in the 65th minute, but none of his team mates could get a touch.
A good ball was played by Spartans Archibald in 77 minutes to the overlapping Mair, but his shot at goal doesn’t trouble the keeper, going over the bar.
Not one for the purists this, with very little in the way of goalmouth action. No shortage of effort, but little action of note.
Gorman looked very solid at the back for Airdrie, with his second half defensive partner Cairns also strong. Ward was impressive in the Spartans midfield in the first half, before going to right back at half time. His team mate Stevenson was competitive in central midfield.
Full Time: Spartans 0 Airdrieonians 0
Spartans: 1 Blair Carswell, 2 Michael Herd (Cyrille 45), 3 Andy Mair, 4 Blair Tolmie (Archibald 69), 5 Thomson 6 Craig Stevenson 7 Brad Raiker 8 Dan Ward 9 Alan Brown (Grotlin 62), 10 Jamie Dishington 11 Scott Maxwell (Saunderson 45). Subs: 12 Cyrille, 14 Grotlin, 15 Ewan Saunderson, 16 Archibald, 17 Dean Horribine, Ross Gilpin.
Airdrie: 1 Rohan Ferguson, 2 John Higgins, 3 Sean McIntosh (Cairns 45), 4 Joe Gorman, 5 Conor Bell (MacDonald), 6 Hugo Faria (Cowie 42), 7 Ciaran Reilly (Brown 52), 8 Conor McLaughlin (McIntosh back on 69), 9 Bandiougou Toure (Ryan 69), 10 Ryan Conroy (Russell 45), 11 Scott Thomson (Faria back on 45). Subs: 12 Iain Russell, 14 Adam Brown, 15 Dean Cairns, 16 Calvin Cowie, 18 Kieran MacDonald, 19 Andy Ryan.
Referee: Steven Reid