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

Hammered by Hyde

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

Spartak 0, Hyde Park 5

There was some disruption to the start of this match with Hyde’s travel problems causing a delay in kick off by more than a half hour; Spartak’s extended warm up/ waiting, particularly in the wet conditions, did not help. That said, Hyde Park were clearly the superior team, bossing the midfield throughout.

The Balbriggan outfit gave notice of their intentions early and struck the cross bar before taking the lead. Greg Byrne did well to save the initial shot, pushed well wide, but with three Sky Blues in attendance, the cross still came in and was finished from close range.

Spartak came close to equalising when Chris Hogan hoisted in a high ball. Jeff Gamble’s header was saved, as was his follow up. The ball ran lose to Darren Ritchie but the keeper saved at the expense of a corner. Hyde Park broke swiftly from the corner and added number two.

A Mick Leslie free was saved as Spartak strove to get back in the game in the second period, while Jeff Gamble and Conor Callis combined to good effect without breaking through, while Alex Junior had a point blank effort saved. When ChrisHogan opted to try to go straight through the centre he was dispossessed easily and again Hyde broke to score.

As legs tired and spirits sagged, Hyde added two more to complete a miserable afternoon for Spartak.

A sobering defeat in a one sided contest in which Spartak were well below their best.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 5 Mick Leslie 5 Dave O’Kelly 6 Fintan Grace 5 Shane McInerney 5 Rob Kennedy 5 Jeff Gamble 6 Lee Malone 5 Darren Ritchie 5 Ciaran Keane 5
Subs: Conor Callis 6 Alex Junior 5 Conor Canavan 5.

Sky Blues Frustrated in Table Top Clash

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

Spartak 1, Ben Bulbin Utd 1

Spartak went into this game with a precipitous grip on first place in Premier 1, and several teams in hot pursuit, including the visitors.

The first half was a tight affair, Benbulbin punishing a Paul Kinsella error to take the lead, and Steve Grier equalising with a towering header from Thom O’Driscoll’s free kick. Just prior, with the score at nil-nil, Steve Grier had taken advantage of a poor kick out to put Ger Byrne through on goal, with the goalie scrambling back for position. Ger, however, rushed his effort and fired over the bar. Not long after, Thom O’Driscoll was taken down in the area, but the referee waved play on, much to the visitors’ relief.

Gradually Spartak took control as the second half wore on, striking the crossbar twice, and Benbulbin clearing off the line from Dave Kernan’s header.

In injury time, a Thom O’Driscoll corner was headed back down by Neil McGowan to Keith Kelly, whose shot from eight yards struck the underside of the bar but stayed out.

The watching, injured, Stuart Love must have longed for some goalmouth action. With the ball bouncing around the visitors’ goalmouth in those closing stages, Stuart would surely have forced one in from close range!

Form Report
Jason Northey 7 Keith Kelly 6 Dave Browne 6 Paul Kinsella 6 Karl McCullagh 7 Ken Buckley 5 Tom O’Driscoll 7 Dave Kernan 7 Steve Grier 7 Ger Byrne 5 Martin Costello 5
Subs: Neil McGowan 6 Kev O’Toole Mick Leslie

Home Comforts

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

Spartak 4, Willows 1

In the end this was a comfortable victory but defensive frailties gave Willows opportunities to make it a closer contest.

A great through ball by Niall Lennon gave Conor Callis the space to square the ball to Jeff Gamble for a simple chance. One nil after just four minutes. Spartak, emboldened by this early boost, then had a few chance to increase the lead, but Jeff Gamble stumbled when clean through and Darren Ritchie shot wide when well placed. As often happens, these misses were put in stark contrast when Willows equalised, following some sloppy play and errors in decision making at the back.

Conor Callis then had a fine run, stopped by illegal means inside the area. The ref initially pointed for a spot kick, but then awarded a free on the edge of the box. No matter, as Mick Leslie accurately fired home the free to the corner of the net.

Darren Ritchie made it 3-1 before the break from Niall Lennon’s pass, with Willows threatening again at the other end before the break.

The pace of the game dropped considerably in the second half, and it was not until the 71st minute that Jeff Gamble made the points safe , poking home from close range.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 6 Chris Hogan 5 Mick Leslie 6 Steve Browne 6 Dave O’Kelly 6 Shane McInerney 6 Niall Hanratty 6 Jeff Gamble 7 Niall Lennon 7 Darren Ritchie 6 Conor Callis 6
Subs: Ciaran Keane 5 Kevin Murphy 5 Tom Maher 5

Diggers Downed

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

Glasnevin 0, Spartak 3.

After a scoreless first half, the game was settled by two Dave Kernan goals and one from Steve Walsh.

On a pich declared unplayable just two weeks before, the drier conditions led to to a bumpy and uneven surface, making control difficult for both sides. Dave Kernan had the best chance in a fairly uneventful first half, but fired too close to the keeper.

Almost immeditely the second period began, Spartak took full control, Kernan firing home from ten yards after tenacious approach wok by Thom O’Driscoll and Ger Byrne. Steve Walsh converted Dave Kernan’s cross for number two shorlty after, and despite Glasnevin’s efforts to throw men forward, Spartak stood firm, especially in central defence with Paul Kinsella and Karl McCullagh formimg a solid partnership.

Dave Kernan capped a man of the match performance by slotting in the third goal on 70 minutes.

Form Report
Jason Northey 5, Dave Browne 6 Martin Costello 5 Paul Kinsella 7 Karl McCullagh 7 Ken Buckley 7 Thom O’Driscoll 6 Dave Kernan 8 Steve Grier 6 Ger Byrne 5 Steve Walsh 5
Subs: Mick Leslie 6 Neil Walsh 5

Defensive Errors lead to Cup Exit

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

Seafordrock 4, Spartak 3

Spartak had to switch from Marlay and concede home advantage at the unusual saturday kick off time of midday for this Vere Deane cup tie.

Spartak, with Jeff Gamble arriving late from a his schoolboy managerial duties, nonetheless took an early lead with a fantastic finish by Niall Lennon. Some non-existent marking at the back post allowed Seaford to equalise, but good approach work by Darren Ritchie and Niall Lenon put Jeff Gamble in to restore Spartak’s lead.

However the defensive horror show continued, and Seaford, by the hour mark, had scored three unanswered goals, to turn a 2-1 lead fro Spartak into a 2-4 deficit. Ciaran Keane had a chance to reduce arrears, but blazed well over. Niall Lenon and Darren Ritchie continued to force the pace in attack , and Spartak had a a few half chances, Lennon volleying over the bar, and Conor Callis missing the chance to square from a good position.

Shane McInerney scored with a neat looping header from Dave O’Kelly’s free almost immediately on his introduction, but Spartak were unable to muster an equaliser which would have forced extra time.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 6 Dave O’Kelly 6 Chris hogan 4 Steve Browne 4 Fintan Grace 4 Mick Leslie 5 Conor Callis 4 Jeff Gamble 6 Darren Ritchie 7 Niall Lennon 8 Ciaran Keane 4
Subs: Shane McInerney 7 Ross Kelly 6