Hyde Park 4 , Spartak 1
The fine spell of weather gave the lie to the attractiveness of summer football, at least as far as some Spartak players were concerned. Unavailable players and late cry offs saw Spartak venture to Balbriggan with just the bare eleven, of whom two were injured.
The home side needed the win to ensure runners up spot and promotion, and displayed a nervous approach.
Mick Greene, playing on one leg, created a number of scoring chances for the Sky Blues. Returning a corner cleared back to him, his cross found the indefatigable Jeff Gamble at the back post, but Jeff fired over. Spartak did take the lead when an excellent Niall Hanratty pass found Gamble, out wide. With plenty to do, Jeff did all required, beating his man and scoring a fantastic goal from a narrow angle.
Fintan Grace was fortunate to escape a red card when pulling back an attacker; he escaped with a yellow, and the resultant penalty, perhaps reflecting the tension in the home side, was fired hopelessly wide.
On the stroke of half time, Chris Hogan misjudged a cross field pass, and was unable to prevent the winger from getting to the backline and crossing. The first effort was cleared off the line by Conor Canavan, but the follow up went in to equalise.
The second half was bound to be a big ask, with Spartak having played just two days earlier, while the home side had not played that Thursday.
But Spartak were not without an attacking threat; Mick Leslie might have pulled the trigger when given a chance, and Fintan Grace headed Mick Greene’s free against the crossbar.
Hyde Park took the lead just before Grace’s effort and eventually added two more near the end, after Hanratty and Leslie had joined the list of walking wounded.
A sterling effort by the Sky Blues was a cause of satisfaction, but there were too few present to make a realistic challenge for the points on offer.
Greg Byrne 8 Conor Canavan 7 Chris Hogan 6 Niall Hanratty 8 Fintan Grace 7 Glen Burke 6 Mick Leslie 6 Jeff Gamble 8 Niall Lennon 7 Mick Greene 7 Dave Kernan 7