Spartak Continue Good Run

Filed under: General news, Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 6, Balbriggan 0

Despite the one sided scoreline, this was a game that Spartak’s defence needed to play well, and they did. The first goal emanated from a series of defensive blocks which finally broke to Chris Hogan. Chris’s long ball was controlled by Conor Callis around half way, and he went on a strong run to finish from close range.

Niall Lennon, impressive throughout, nodded in a Mick Greene corner for number two.

Two early second half goals put the contest out of reach of the visitors, who nevertheless continued to press continuously in a sporting contest.

Spartak’s third saw a move by Conor Canavan and Dave Kernan finished of by Conor Callis, while the fourth was a sweeping break initiated by Dave O’Kelly, carried on by Conor Canavan and Niall Lennon for Dave Kernan to race in and finish.

Conor Callis completed his hattrick by slamming in a Dave Kernan cross, while Dave O’Kelly and Niall Lennon combined again for Dave Kernan to slot number six.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 6 Mick Greene 7 Tony Kavanagh 7 Dave O’Kelly 8 Lee Malone 5 Conor Callis 8 Dave Kernan 8 Niall Lennon 8 Darren Ritchie 7 Conor Canavan 7
Subs: Bruno Martins 5 Barry Maguire 6 Tom Maher 6

Smash and Grab

Filed under: General news, Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Walkinsown 1, Spartak 2

The home side had more possession, and as promotion contenders showed plenty urgency on this midweek fixture on a cold and blustery evening. The Sky Blues displayed some doughty defending which foiled the home side’s ambition on this occasion, with some outstanding saves from Greg Byrne a highlight.

Early breaks by Spartak were foiled by some dubious offside calls, and gradually the home side assumed midfield control. Walkinstown took the lead when a long ball was eventually slid home from an angled shot.

The Sky Blues equalised just before the break from a set play, after a foul on Mick Young. Tom O’Driscoll’s free found Jeff Gamble lurking at the back post and he stooped to nod in.

In the second period Walkinstown pushed hard for the winning score, but in their anxiety pushed too far; with 8 minutes remaining a Greg Byrne kick was touched on by Barry Maguire to Conor Callis, who beat the advancing keeper for a fine winning goal.

Prior to this it had been a disciplined defensive performance which kept the home side at bay, with only sporadic attacks by Spartak. In one such breakout,Darren Ritchie turned, slalomed past a couple of defenders to fire a shot from a narrow angle which was saved.

A pleasing performance and result.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 9 Chris Hogan 7 Tom O’Driscoll 7 Steve Grier 8 Dave Browne 7 Shane McInerney 6 Mick Young 7 Jeff Gamble 7 Lee Malone 6 Darren Ritchie 6 Ciaran Keane 5
Subs: Conor Callis 7 Fintan Grace 6 Barry Maguire 6

Tired Sky Blues rescue a Point

Filed under: General news, Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 3, Rush 3

Once again the vagaries of LSL fixtures saw Spartak play a second game in three days against opponents who were fresher.

Spartak took a two goal lead with two fine efforts from Ciaran Keane , who twice fired powerfully home.

However the second period saw a different pattern, as tired legs gave a fresher Rush eleven time and space which allowed them to claw their way into the game. When Conor Callis failed to stop a cross, Rush reduced arrears.

Poor passes by Mick Leslie and Ciaran Keane opened the door for the Rush equaliser, and for a while the Sky Blues were in a backs to the wall situation.

Then the home side rallied, with Jeff Gamble hitting a post and Ciaran Keane touching wide from Niall Lennon’s pass.

But a flick on from a free kick saw Spartak’s central defenders caught out and suddenly a 2-0 lead had become a 2-3 deficit.

Again Spartak threw men forward, but had no joy until deep into injury time. Niall Lennon, determinedly on the burst, was met by a high boot to the head at the edge of the box. With the last kick of the game Jeff Gamble fired the resultant free home to rescue a point for the Sky Blues.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 7 Mick Greene 5 Steve Browne 5 Fintan Grace 5 Darren Ritchie 5 Conor Callis 5 Dave Kernan 7 Niall Lennon 8 Mick Leslie 5 Ciaran Keane 7
Subs: Jeff Gamble 6 Barry Maguire 5 Lee Malone 5

Tymon Thumped

Filed under: General news, Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 4, Tymon 0

A fine opening goal set the tone for this game; Jeff Gamble’s quickly taken corner was volleyed sumptuously home from the edge of the box by Steve Grier, with his weaker left foot.

Grier also had a header cleared off the line in the opening period, during which Tymon Bawn must have wondered how they reached the interval without scoring. Prompted by former Sky Blue Conor Keegan, they had a litany of chances, but were denied by some excellent goalkeeping by Greg Byrne and their own lack of finishing finesse.

The opening period of the second half saw Tymon dominate for a while, with Chris Hogan clearing off the line, and Greg Byrne continuing to excel. When Greg did miss a cross, Mick Greene was on hand to clear.

On the break a Grier/Leslie/Gamble move saw the latter miss a big chance, and Gamble then had a goal disallowed after a Leslie/Lennon move. In between Jeff displayed his old penchant for being caught offside, breaking down a few moves to the frustration of his teammates.

A turning point saw the visitors defender dismissed for a second yellow card, and it was then that Spartak began to turn the screw.

Jeff Gamble showed skill and determination to score Spartak’s second following a solo run. Mick Young kept his composure to beat a poorly laid offside trap to add number three, and sub Ciaran Keane added the fourth.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 9 Chris Hogan 7 Mick Greene 5 Steve Browne 7 Fintan Grace 8 Steve Grier 7 Mick Young 7 Jeff Gamble 7 Niall Lennon 7 Darren Ritchie 5 Mick Leslie 7
Subs: Conor Callis 5 Ciaran Keane 6 Shane McInerney 5

Below Par Sky Blues Exit Cup

Filed under: General news, Sunday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Jobstown Celtic 5, Spartak 2

A cup quarter final set for a midweek date suited neither team; but it was the home side who won the contest in emphatic manner.

Steve Grier had a header saved and Spartak had a few cursory efforts in a first half marked by two crucial errors by the Sky Blue full backs. Each erred in turn, with Paul Kinsella conceding a penalty in an effort to cover for the first, while the second saw the local forward sweep in after a calamitous error.

When a rash foul by Paul Kinsella saw the home side fire in a free from a narrow angle, all looked lost.

The Sky Blues finally roused from slumber, and Steve Grier fired against the post. When Tom O’Driscoll was fouled Keith Kelly fired in from the spot.

But Jobstown responded almost immediately with a fourth which effectively ended the contest.

In due course a fifth was added before Steve Grier was fouled and Jeff Gamble scored, again from the spot.

Spartak, although hampered by injuries, simply did not turn up for this one, and could not match the efforts made in the previous round.

Form Report
Jason Northey 4 Dave Browne 5 Niall Hanratty 4 Paul Kinsella 5 Karl McCullagh 5 Tom O’Driscoll 5 Neil McGowan 6 Dave Kernan 5 Steve Grier 7 Ger Byrne 5 Martin Costello 5
Subs: Keith Kelly 6 Jeff Gamble 6 Mick Young 4

A Crazy Game

Filed under: General news, Sunday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Alpine Oldchurch 4, Spartak 5.

Even the genesis of this fixture was unusual. The league gave short notice, then SDCC called pitches off for the week before changing their minds on Wednesday for this Thursday midweek fixture.

In any event the Sky Blues made a flying start, Jeff Gamble, sent away down the right by Dave Kernan,centred for steve Walsh to clip home. Kernan then conceded a foul from which the homesters equalised.

Spartak did not take long to re-establish supremacy, with Ger Byrne knocking in from Walsh’s free, before Neil McGowan finished a Byrne cross. 3-1 a the break, with Spartak’s midfield of McGowan, Mick Leslie and Niall Lennon well on top.

A dream start to the second period ensued when Jeff Gamble made it 4-1, taking advantage of a poor back pass, and then Dave Kernan tapping in at the back post following a knockdown.

With Niall Lennon and Niall Hanratty carrying knocks, substitutions were made early in the second period.

Whether it was the comfortable lead, or the forced changes, is not certain; but the Spartak team took their collective foot off the pedal, and as a result the home side scored twice in quick succession to reduce arrears.

A fourth goal left Spartak clinging precariously to what had been a comfortable lead and as the game became frantic and physical the referee seemed to lose control of proceedings.

at 5-4 wih 20 minutes remaining, the odds were on the home side procuring an equaliser, but the Sky Blues recovered enough of their composure to hold on, with Jason Northey missing from two yards after Mick Leslie’s free gave him the chance to settle matters.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 6 Dave Kernan 6 Niall Hanratty 6 Paul Kinsella 6 Martin Costello 6 Mick Leslie 6 Neil McGowan 6 Jeff Gamble 8 Niall Lennon 8 Ger Byrne 6 Steve Walsh 6
Subs: Lee Malone 4 Dave Browne 5 Jason Northey 4

Controversial Defeat

Filed under: General news, Sunday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 2, Glasnevin 3

No less than three vital goal decisions in the final few minutes of this game swung the tie in the visitors favour.
Firstly a goal should have been awarded after a rebound saw the ball cross the Glasnevin goal line by more than a yard; the referee turned down the appeals; then Steve Walsh, in injury time, scored what surely would have been a winner following good work by Dave Kernan and Jeff Gamble, but was, incredibly, given offside. To add insult to injury Glasnevin then scored an unlikely winner from a blatantly offside position.

Spartak played the entire first half in peripatetic fashion, seeming to expect that the visitors would simply lie down and allow the Sky Blues claim a handy three points in the promotion race. The visitors, embroiled in a relegation fight, had other ideas, and tackled accordingly.

Spartak created no clear chances in the first half, as Glasnevin sat deep and easily repelled the home attacks, such as they were.

Minutes before half time, a fast break by the visitors saw the forward round Jason Northey to reach the bye line, before squaring across the open goal. The hapless Martin Costello, racing back, hacked his attempted clearance to the net for an unfortunate own goal.

Substitutes Steve Grier and Jeff Gamble imbued the home side with some urgency, and a powerful Neil McGowan effort was saved by the goalie’s feet in instinctive fashion. Kevin O’Toole had a chance but produced a tame effort.

Then came three goals in a three minute spell within the last ten minutes. Neil McGowan fired in right footed from the edge of the box to equalise, but almost immediately Dave Browne was caught napping by the winger who raced away, then crossed for a scoring header. 1-2 with less than 10 remaining.

Spartak had regained their fighting spirit, and when Mick Leslie’s drive was parried, Jeff Gamble headed in a second equaliser.

Then came the injury time twist in the tale, as joy turned to despair following those decisions.

Form Report
Jason Northey 6 Dave Browne 4 Niall Hanratty 4 Paul Kinsella 5 Martin Costello 5 Kevin O’Toole 6 Neil McGowan 6 Dave Kernan 5 Keith Kelly 5 Tom O’Driscoll 5 Steve Walsh 5
Subs: Jeff Gamble 7 Steve Grier 7 Mick Leslie 7

Spartak Fade to Draw

Filed under: General news, Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 1,Mid Sutton 1

In the opening period of this game it was almost all one way traffic in Spartak’s favour, but poor decision making proved costly, as the Sky Blues failed to consolidate an early lead from Jeff Gamble’s snapshot.

Conor Callis, Adam Doran and Jeff Gamble often did good work in the approach, only to spoil the effort with a poor cross or final pass.

At the other end the makeshift central defensive pairing of Niall Lennon and Darren Ritchie coped well with the vistors attack but both are better in other areas of the pitch and were sorely missed.

Having had most of the play, the Sky Blues conceded from a scramble following a corner just before half time.

A frustrating second period saw both sides miss presentable chances; the visitors carved out opportunities, but were foild by Greg Byrne. A great Niall Lennon pass sent Adam Doran away on the right, and he duly teed up Conor Callis, who opted for power over control, shooting over from 10 yards.

A game which could have gone either way.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 5 Mick Greene 5 Niall Lennon 7 Darren Ritchie 6 Lee Malone 5 Conor Callis 6 Jeff Gamble 6 Mick Leslie 5 Adam Doran 7 Ciaran Keane 5
Sub Alex Junior 6

Wide Awake Walsh

Filed under: General news, Sunday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 5, Terenure Rangers 0

Spartk huffed and puffed for an hour in the first midweek game in Marlay before making the breakthrough against a stubborn Terenure Rangers side, who had the two best chances of the opening half. Jason Northey saved the first effort, while a weak punch from Jason gave the visitors a glorious chance from close range which they blazed over.

Passes were slow, crosses poor. When the goalkeeper fumbled a Dave Browne cross, there was no Spartak player near enough to take advantage. Jeff Gamble displayed some trickery, but the final ball was too often poor.

Spartak began the second half in more determined mood. Jeff Gamble sent Dave Kernan though from the right, but his shot was weak. Neil McGowan and Jeff Gamble over elaborated when an early shot might have proved effective; Jeff Gamble tried a spectacular overhead kick which was well saved.

At the other end, an error by Neil McGowan gave the visitors a chance, but Jason Northey saved.

Gradually Terenure were being worn down by waves of attacks, but it was not until the introduction on the hour of Steve Walsh, who had missed a number of recent games for various reasons, that the pressure told. Almost immediately he scored from close range.

Dave Browne and Ger Byrne combined to provide Neil McGowan with number 2, and when another Dave Kernan run was stopped at the expense of a corner, Steve Grier heading in from the flag kick.

As Terenure wilted, Spartak found their rythm and when Jeff Gamble was fouled at the edge of the box, Steve Walsh found the top corner with his free.

As injury time approached, Thom O’Driscoll laid on a one on one for Steve Walsh, who completed his first hat trick of the season, moving him on to 11 goals for the season, one ahead of Steve Grier but adrift of Jeff Gamble on 17.

A nap hand and a clean sheet on a satisfactory evening.

Form Report
Jason Northey 6 Dave Browne 7 Niall Hanratty 6 Steve Grier 6 Martin Costello 7 Kevin O’Toole 6 Neil McGowan 6 Dave Kernan 6
Thom O’Driscoll 6 Ger Byrne 6 Jeff Gamble 7
Subs: Steve Walsh 7 Keith Kelly 6 Neil Walsh 6

Sky Blues Advance in Cup

Filed under: General news, Sunday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Spartak 1, Bray FC 0

A couple of decisive moments swung this cup tie in Spartak’s favour. With 20 minutes left on a sticky surface, Dave Kernan controlled Steve Grier’s throw on the left and wriggled his way past the full back, who brought him down rather rashly just inside the area, despite appearing to have adequate cover. Steve Grier duly converted the spot kick for the only goal.

Not long after Bray had their own penalty claim for a handball, but this time Spartak were penalised outside the area, and the free came to nothing.

Spartak worked hard first half, and in reality only created only one chance. Dave Browne’s cross seemed ideal for Ger Byrne, eight yards out, but he headed wide. Dave Kernan cleared off the line and Bray kept Jason Northey busy. The central defensive partnership of Paul Kinsella and Martin Costello were defiant in the face of Bray’s attack, and kept their scoring chances down to a minimum.

Bray fired a couple of free kicks uncomfortably close, and Martin Costello and Thom O’Driscoll broght off notable blocks when danger threatened. A neat move by Ger Byrne and Dave Kernan saw Steve Grier head one down for Neil McGowan to fire a fine shot from 25 yards, well saved by the Bray keeper.

Martin Costello broke out from the back, and after a long run could only find the keeper with his cross.

The game generally was nip and tuck, with Bray having more possession but few real chances for either side.

So it was left to Jason Northey to tip one over in the last minute; the Bray keeper was up to make the extra man, but Spartak scrambled it clear and so were into the next round.

It was victory borne of good defending and hard work, rather than fluent football.

Form Report
Jason Northey 7 Dave Browne 7 Tom O’Driscoll 7 Paul Kinsella 8 Martin Costello 9 Kevin O’Toole 7 Neil McGowan 7 Dave Kernan 7 Steve Grier 6 Ger Byrne 6 Niall Hanratty 7