Cup Progress

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

Spartak 5, Mountview 1

The Sky Blues overcame a combative Mountview team with a strong opening half in this quarter final of the Vere Deane Cup.

Spartak were in form and in the mood from the off with Owen Marron’s strong running causing problems for the visiting defence.

Fergus Flynn was on target from close range to make it 1-0 before a header from Owen Marron made it two. The pick of the scores came when Mick Leslie met a headed clearance with an unstoppable strike for number three.

Mountview had a couple of chances but fired the best of them over the bar. Dave Power then had a goal disallowed.

Owen Marron completed his hatrick in the second half with a second header and a cool finish from Niall Lennon’s pass.

A messy end to the game saw the visitors reduced to 9 men following two red cards, and despite this they managed to score against a sloppy Spartak defence after some slow and poor passing by the Sky Blues in midfield backfired.

Form Report
Craig Howard 8 Chris Hogan 7 Kevin Cunningham 7 Steve Grier 8 Ian Harmon 8 Stuart Love 6 Fergus Flynn 6 Owen Marron 9
Niall Lennon 6 Dave Power 8 Mick Leslie 8
Subs Dave Browne 6 Sean Nolan 5

Last Minute Disappointment

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

Spartak 3, Wayside Celtic 3

A harsh penalty awarded to Wayside in the last moments deprived Spartak of the full points.

The Sky Blues seemed to have done enough to win, despite Wayside’s string second half pressure, and had built a three goal advantage.

Dave Power’s header gave the home side an early lead and Stev Grier added number two with a drilled shot to reach a century of goals for the club. Spartak did not have it all their own way were grateful to home custodian Craig Howard who pushed a goal bound shot onto the woodwork before retrieving the ball in the face of opposition forwards.

The second period saw Craig make another couple of fine saves and Neil McGowan cleared off the line as pressure built.

Against the run of play Mick Leslie’s magnificent pass sent Owen Marron clear to confidently make it three.

Wayside reduced arrears with a headed goal which looked suspiciously offside, and then a rather lucky deflected strike made it 3.2. Spartak were by now disrupted by now with some injuries and it was a case of seeing the game out.

Once again Craig Howard made a fabulous save to deny Wayside, and their centre back went close with a header.

The equaliser from the spot gave the visitors a share of the points.

Form Report
Craig Howard 9 Chris Hogan 7 Kevin Cunningham 7 Steve Grier 8 Ian Harmon 7 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Dave Power 7 Mick Leslie 7 Ciaran Brady 8 Owen Marron 7
Subs Fergus Flynn 5 Dave Browne 5 Carl Gaffney 5

Sky Blues slip past Garda

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

Spartak 3, Garda FC 1

Garda, who were second in the table and had beaten Spartak comprehensively in the reverse fixture, were overcome by a very lively Sky Blues performance, particularly in the opening half.

Spartak, at least temporarily, have moved clear of the relegation zone.

A defensive slip in the opening minutes presented the visitors with a real opportunity, but Craig Howard saved well.

Owen Marron had a very bright first half, making a great run and then laying on a good chance which Mick Leslie fired over. A square ball by Spartk gave the visitors a scoring opportunity, but they shot wide.

Kevin Cunningham and Dave Power had chances but were just off target. At the other end Owen Marron made a goal saving tackle as the vistors threatened.

An all action first half looked like ending scoreless but the Sky Blues struck twice in two minutes before the break. Steve Grier’s header struck the post but Stuart Love nodded in the rebound for number one, and then Steve Grier blasted in a free kick. Owen Marron was then just off target in the last action of the half.

Spartak had a goal disallowed early in the second period before Garda reduced arrears with shot from the edge of the box. At this point the visitors were getting a strong grip on the game but with the home defence playing well , and Craig Howard making a couple of fine saves, they could not equalise.

A Steve Grier header from a Neil McGowan cross clinched the three points for Spartak.

Probably the best result of the season.

Form Report
Craig Howard 8 Chris Hogan 7 Kevin Cunningham 8 Steve Grier 8 Ian Harmon 8 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Mick Leslie 7
Niall Lennon 7 Dave Power 8 Owen Marron 8
Subs Fergus Flynn 7 Ciaran Brady 6 Dave Browne 6 Carl Gaffney Sean Nolan

Form Report
Craig Howard 8 Chris Hogan 6 Kevin Cunningham 7 Steve Grier 8 Ian Harmon 7 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Mick Leslie 6 Niall Lennon 7 Dave Power 7 Owen Marron 8
Subs: Fergus Flynn 7 Ciaran Brady 6 Dave Browne 6 Sean Nolan Carl Gaffney

Clean Sheet

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

Spartak 4, SVS fc 0

A shaky start saw a couple of errors in the Sky Blue defence which led to clear scoring opportunities for the visitors.
With the back four riding their luck , it was left to Craig Howard, the Spartak netminder, to make a couple of fine saves.

Fergus Flynn had a chance from close range, but could not get the ball out from his feet, and when he did the effort was blocked. A crashing header from Steve Grier saw Spartak go one up, and this was quickly followed by number two. Dave Power’s assist saw Owen Marron head home.

Encouraged by this, Spartak then had a fine spell of play but no further goals ensued. Neil McGowan’s effort from a narrow angle was cleared on the line, Owen Marron’s effort was clawed away by the visiting goalkeeper.
Just on half time Owen Marron sustained a head injury when through on goal which might have brought a sanction on the last defender.

Once again at the start of the second period an error gave SVS a fine chance which was fired wide.
Duly patched up, the mercurial Marron resumed in the second half long enough to have a hand in two more goals. The third was tapped in from close range by Fergus Flynn after a scramble, and the final score was started by Owen Marron who fed Dave Power. Dave’s cross was volleyed in by Neil McGowan .

Spartak’s midfield was a key element in the win, with skipper Stu Love leading the way in making many interceptions, blocks and tackles, aided and abetted in the engine room by Ciaran Brady.

SVS will reflect on the chances they had at key moments, but Spartak took a welcome three points.

Form Report
Craig Howard 8 Chris Hogan 7 Kevin Cunningham 7 Steve Grier 8 Niall Lennon 7 Stuart Love 8 Neil McGowan 8 Ciaran Brady 8 Fergus Flynn 7 Dave Power 8 Owen Marron 8
Subs: Mick Leslie 6 Ian Harmon 6 Denis Teeling 6

Away Day Win

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

Edenderry Town 1, Spartak 3

A lengthy trip to Edenderry seemed not to appeal to some, while others had to cry off through injury and illness. Eventually Spartak mustered up eleven good men and true to register a memorable victory.

The Sky Blues in the opening period displayed cohesive passing and a determination that seemed to knock the home side out of their stride.

A neat passing movement saw Dave Power through; he opted to round the goalkeeper who brought him down. A yellow card for the keeper and a penalty, dispatched by Neil McGowan. Chris Hogan started the move which led to the second goal with a neat ball down the line. Fergus Flynn and Owen Marron continued the move completed by Dave Power who took his time before wrong footing the keeper and sliding the ball home.

Dave Power had a couple of other efforts including a header that was tipped over.

The second half was, for a while, a continuation of Spartak dominance; Fergus Flynn scored number three after running on to a Neil McGowan pass. Then Dave Power and Fergus Flynn broke clear without either managing a shot before the home side scrambled clear. Stuart Love went clean through and was taken down for a second spot kick. Neil McGowan somewhat unwisely passed the task to Dave Power whose effort was easily parried, with Fergus Flynn missing the follow up.

The home side pulled a goal back with a quarter of an hour left, but Spartak, as fitness levels fell, managed the game to the end.

Form Report
Craig Howard 7 Chris Hogan 7 Dave Browne 7 Steve Grier 8 Niall Lennon 8 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 8 Ciaran Brady 8 Fergus Flynn 7 Dave Power 8 Owen Marron 7

Rip Roaring Contest

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

Knocklyon 4, Spartak 4

Spartak saved a point at the death when Ian Harmon forced home Kevin Cunningham’s flighted free kick in injury time. Knocklyon had taken a controversial late lead when Steve Grier, poised to head clear, was clearly pushed and the dropping ball was forced home.

A non stop first half saw six goals scored.

Steve Grier crossed for Owen Marron to head home before Knocklyon struck back with two goals. A strong run from the back by Dave Browne saw him pass to Mick Leslie who found Steve Grier on the edge of the box. Steve held his composure under pressure to slot home. Just before half time the home side restored their lead but the Sky Blues quickly regained parity after a Dave Browne long throw was touched home by Neil McGowan.

The second half had fewer scores, but was still helter skelter. Craig Howard made two good saves, Neil McGowan Dave Power had shots saved, while Dave Browne tried from half way with the keeper out of position, but was just wide.

With Knocklyon 4-3 ahead a goal line clearance by Ian Harmon proved vital before he popped up at the other end with the equaliser.

Form Report
Craig Howard 6 Chris Hogan 6 Dave Browne 7 Steve Grier 7 Ian Harmon 8 Kevin Cunningham 8 Stuart Love 6 Neil McGowan 6 Owen Marron 5 Niall Lennon 6 Mick Leslie 5
Subs: Dave Power 6 Alex Molloy 4 Fergus Flynn 5 Sean Nolan 4

Cup Win

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

Spartak 3, Knocklyon 2

The visitors, managed by former Spartak stalwart Leon David, can consider themselves unlucky having struck the woodwork twice but the Sky Blues were delighted with this cup victory which advances them to the quarter final stage.

Mick Leslie opened the scoring early on after retrieving the ball and playing a one two with Ciaran Brady. Further chances fell to Mick, again, and Chris Hogan, whose weak effort was easily saved. Knocklyon equalised with a snap shot form the edge of the box following a half cleared corner, and, growing in confidence and control, struck the woodwork twice within minutes.

The second half began poorly for Spartak, with a Knocklyon player allowed to run 50 yards with the ball before beating Craig Howard rather too easily.

Spartak struck back with an equaliser from Neil McGowan before Knocklyon applied further pressure which required some desperate defending.Spartak held out and with minutes remaining a long throw was flicked on by Stuart Love; Mick Leslie had a free header from a yard out and managed to apply the merest of touches to glance the ball to the net.

Form Report
Craig Howard 7 Chris Hogan 7 Dave Browne 7 Steve Grier 7 Kevin Cunningham 9 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Ciaran Brady 8 Mick Leslie 7 Fergus Flynn 7 James Burke 6

Bad Day at the Office

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

Shankill 3, Spartak 0

Bad passing by the Sky Blues spread in this game, in the words of one player, like a virus. Threatening only from set plays, Spartak were a shadow of their normal selves.

Shankill were passing neatly on a bumby pitch with a blustery wind, conditions which teh Sky Blues never came to terms with.

The goals were all too easily conceded and the home keeper had a quiet morning.

Form Report

Craig Howard 5 Ciaran Brady 6 Kevin Cunningham 6 Steve Grier 5 Ian Harmon 6 Stuart Love 4 Neil McGowan 5 Ciaran Nolan 4 Niall Lennon 5 Dave Power 5 Mick Leslie 4
Sub Carl Gaffney 5

Narrow Margins

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

Spartak 1, McKelvey Celtic 2

The first game of the new year saw Spartak in good form and unlucky not to salvage a point.

Spartak were denied a possible equaliser when Steve Grier was tripped in the penalty area with minutes to go. It looked a nailed on penalty but the referee was not convinced.

Midway through the first half the teams exchanged goals, McKelvey with a neat header, and Steve Grier with a fine shot from the edge of the box to the top corner.

With 20 minutes to go a poor pass from the back saw McKelvey gain an opportunity, and they scored with the aid of a deflection which looped high over Craig Howard leaving him helpless.

As Spartak pressed for a second equaliser Dave Power was through one on one but the keeper saved.

A decent display by the Sky Blues against a side pushing for promotion

A harsh defeat.

Form Report
Craig Howard 6 Owen Marron 8 Kevin Cunningham 7 Ian Harmon 8 Steve Grier 7 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Ciaran Brady 8 Niall Lennon 6 Dave Power 6 Fergus Flynn 5
Subs Carl Gaffney 6 Chris Hogan 5 Ciaran Nolan 5 Sean Nolan 4

Shootout Success

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

Clara Town 3, Spartak 3 (Spartak win 4-1 on pens)

Spartak got a tough draw in the Leinster Shield with a long trip to deepest Offaly.

The weather was rather inclement, with driving rain and a strong breeze making conditions difficult for both sides.

Following two opening league defeats, the outlook looked bleak again as the Sky Blues went two down after just 15 minutes; hesitation in dealing with a long ball led to an easy opener for the home side, and then a free kick conceded within striking distance saw a fine, albeit wind assisted, shot adding number two.

Indeed Spartak remained fairly sleepy, and the home side missed a gilt edged opportunity at the back post which might have finished the game as a contest.

A fine Lennon pass freed Love on the left; he pulled an inviting ball back for Gahan, who shot wide; a repeat of the same move saw Spartak reduce arrears before the break, Gahan drilling home with the aid of a deflection.

The second period saw a different Spartak. Within ten minutes they had gone ahead. When Leslie was impeded, a penalty converted by Harmon levelled things up. Then a McGowan free saw a defender, under pressure from Love, have the misfortune to find his own net. 3.2

The heavy conditions and lack of subs told on Spartak as the home side flooded the pitch with 5 fresh men and finally Clara equalised when a seemingly harmless cross was handled. Penalty. 3-3.

Extra time it was. Spartak had a fine chance when Grier played Marron down the line, his cross slowed in the muddy conditions which allowed the home defender to foil Love from just a few yards out.

So to penalties. Harmon, McGowan, and Grier all netted; for the home side there was misfortune with just one of three scored, one off target and Howard saving one. So Gahan added the fourth to ensure that the long drive home was a happy one.

Form Report
Howard 7 Marron 7 Hogan 5 Grier 7 Harmon 7 Love 7 McGowan 7 Gahan 6 Doyle 6 Lennon 7 Leslie 6 Gaffney 5