First Half Good, Second Half Not So Good

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

Spartak 5 Seaford 2

As Sven Goran Erikkson was fond of saying – first half good , second half not so good.

With Jason Northey injured, Adam Doran played in goal. Paul Kinsella started despite carrying a knock, while Neil McGowan, also injured, took a spot on the bench

Dave Browne made his first start of the season having returned from his many travels, missing the last three games. Steve Grier was on his own sojourn around South Dublin looking for his kit and missed the kick off, eventually making an undistinguished second half appearance. Boots, shin pads, socks. Its a heavy burden. He could be in line for the Rob Deering perpetual trophy!

Spartak began brightly, and after just five minutes a Steve Walsh cross found an unmarked Martin Costello, who firmly headed home.

Seaford regrouped and the number 7 took full advantage on the Spartak left, where Dave Browne seemed to be still on his travels. Better finishing would have seen an equaliser but Spartak broke on 24 minutes with Niall Hanratty and Dave Kernan combining to put Steve Walsh through and he added to the lead.

Paul Kinsella appeared to be fouled by the Seaford attacker who went on to shoot wide when through on goal, and Adam Doran took off a good save from that number 7 again. Once again Spartak broke well with Stuart Love giving Seamus McCahill a shooting chance. His shot, though weak, was fumbled and Dave Kernan regained possession to fire in number 3.

With Seaford pushing forward just on half time they were caught out by a drilled Dave Browne pass which sent Steve Walsh away to coolly round the keeper and slot number 4.

On 50 minutes Seaford reduced arrears and a couple of good Adam Doran saves prevented them from further closing the gap as Spartak were unable to maintain their earlier tempo.

Spartak were disjointed in the second half and the midfield area was conceded to Seaford . Seamus McCahill went on his own particularly quest in the second period, forgetting about team work and positional sense and concentrating on trying to get his name on the score sheet. Alas, he failed. He was not alone in playing a solo second half role and several players were guilty of over carrying and over elaboration, in stark contrast to the slicker first half attacking moves.

There were some nervous and indeed embarrassed moments among the Sky Blues when Seaford scored again with 12 minutes left but a fine individual effort by Steve Walsh, completing his hat trick, made it 5-2 after the same player had been refused a blatant penalty when toppled in the box.

Spartak can be happy with the three points but not the performance. The second half took a lot of gloss off after building a 4-0 half time lead.

Form Report
Adam Doran 7 Dave Kernan 6 Dave Browne 6 Paul Kinsella 6 Karl McCullough 6 Stuart Love 6 Niall Hanratty 6 Ken Buckley 6 Seamus McCahill 6 Martin Costello 6 Steve Walsh 8
Subs: Steve Grier 5 Mick Leslie 6 Kevin Loftus 5

Knocked for Seven

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

Knockmitten Utd 2, Spartak 7

Spartak made light of a number of absentees to score a resounding win. Bobby Hayes, Keith Kelly and Conor Keegan were all marked absent, while the injured Shane McInerney had to be content with a touchline role. The redoubtable Tony Kavanagh rolled back the years to make an appearance as the over 35s were idle. Mick Young was also unavailable for selection – confusing reality with the virtual life he stayed at home to watch television and admire Phil Jagielka’s fine strike.

The opening exchanges did not augur well; Chris Hogan wasted no time in delivering a couple of foul throws, and on 15 minutes Mick Costello raced from his goal to the left hand side to make a timely clearance. Alas his fellow defenders were sound asleep and the ball was returned quickly to the Spartak net before Mick could recover his ground.

A fine move involving Niall Hanratty and Niall Lennon saw Jeff Gamble deliver an inviting cross which was headed home by Adam Doran for the equaliser. Jeff had earlier missed a close range header from Fidel Benson’s cross but Spartak took the lead when Mick Leslie battled for the ball at the edge of the box, and the ball dropped for Jeff Gamble to fire home. Just on half time Adam Doran stretched Spartak’s lead with a great effort from the half way line, reminiscent of David Beckham’s goal many years ago.

The Spartak midfield trio of Niall Lennon, Adam Doran and Fidel Benson took complete charge in the second period. Spartak were now rampant and Jeff Gamble scored following a good pass by Niall Hanratty.

Ciaran Keane, who up to this point had not done himself justice, then scored from close range from a move started by Mick Costello and carried on by Hanratty and Gamble; and then Ciaran fired in a fine cross converted by Gamble for number 6.

Jeff Gamble got his fourth goal courtesy of a surging run and cross by Fidel Benson and Niall Hanratty fired over from close range while Dave O’Kelly struck the post as Spartak attacked at will.

Knockmitten scored a consolation from the spot after a defensive mix up to bookend the scoring.

Biggest win in a while and man of the match must go to Jeff Gamble for finding his finishing touch so well, but Niall Lennon ran him close with an assured midfield display, aided by Adam Doran and Fidel Benson.

Form Report
Mick Costello 7 Conor Canavan 6 Chris Hogan 6 Niall Hanratty 7 Dave O’Kelly 7 Ciaran Keane 6 Adam Doran 8 Jeff Gamble 8 Niall Lennon 8 Fidel Benson 7 Mick Leslie 7
Subs: Tony Kavanagh 6 Rafal Sarwinski 6

So Disappointing

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

Hartstown Huntstown 3 , Spartak 2

With a squad depleted by injuries and absentees it was not the ideal day for players selected at numbers 8,9, and 10 not to put in an appearance. Bad Form, Messrs Hanratty, Malone and Doran. With Paul Kinsella and Neil McGowan out injured, and Martin Costello, Seamus McCahill, Fergus Burke and Dave Browne otherwise engaged, the missing trio made it nine players out and placed an unbearable final strain on resources.

Evans Sarpong, who responded at short notice and Jason Northey, renewing his outfield career, started on the wings, with Mick Greene and Shea McClafferty, also responding to calls, arriving as substitutes.

So not the perfect preparation to meet the unbeaten league leaders on their own turf.

Far from being cowed or overrun, the Spartak outfit put in a compelling performance, with stellar contributions from several players,aided by a hard working supporting cast, and were unfortunate not to gain at least a share of the spoils.

Stuart Love, playing centrally, had one of his finest performances, tirelessly closing men down and finding time to set up attacks.

Spartak had seen a Steve Grier throw deflected on to the bar before the home side found their feet and a lack of cover saw Hartstown take the lead on the counter before a towering header from Steve Grier, who powered in a Steve Walsh free, equalised for the Sky Blues, following a foul on Dave Kernan.

The second goal for Hartstown stemmed form a free kick harshly awarded against Evans Sarpong (it was a dive) and Kevin Loftus was clearly nudged as the ensuing cross floated into the far corner.

Close things then for both sides as Hartstown had a goal ruled out and a flick on by Jason Northey rolled harmlessly across an unguarded Hartstown goal. A fine pass by Evans Sarpong sent Steve Walsh through only to be foiled by a combination of defender and keeper.

The second half saw some fine football by both sides in an open contest.

A typically persistent Stuart Love sent Steve Walsh in for a shot but he pulled it wide. Then Ken Buckley and Steve Walsh combined but the cross was just ahead of Mick Leslie, arriving at the far post.

A foul by Dave Kernan led to a third for the home side, with Kevin Loftus getting no marks for defensive wall construction following the ensuing free kick.

Dave Kernan, although handicapped by having goals nicked from him by Neil McGowan, scored for the third game in a row to be joint top scorer; not bad for a right back. On this occasion he coolly beat the keeper from close range after Mick Leslie had headed the ball down to him.

Mick Greene’s first time pass gave Steve Walsh the opportunity to set up Steve Grier, but he shot first time and wide from the edge of the box , when a touch might have made sure.

A fantastic piece of skill by Steve Walsh gave Mick Leslie a chance from a narrow angle on the right, but the keeper blocked at the expense of a corner.

As the Sky Blues went all out for an equaliser, some gaps at the back were inevitable , abut after the local forward knocked the ball past Kevin Loftus, David Kernan, racing back towards goal, made a near miraculous clearance on the line, somehow lifting the ball up and on to the top of the bar and over.

A final flurry by Spartak saw a Stu Love cross evade the attackers and then Karl McCullough had a fierce shot blocked before Steve Grier fired the rebound over.

Heartbreak for a brave showing by those who were there.

Form Report
Kevin Loftus 5 David Kernan 8 Aodhan McCahill 7 Steve Grier 8 Karl McCullough 7 Stuart Love 9 Mick Leslie 6 Jason Northey 6 Ken Buckley 6 Evans Sarpong 6 Steve Walsh 8
Subs: Mick Greene 6 Shea McClafferty 6
No Shows – Niall Hanratty , Adam Doran, Lee Malone

Defeat in First Home Saturday game.

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

Spartak 2, Cherryfield 4

Spartak’s opening home game did not produce any better result than the previous two away games as the team, missing players from last season, is only starting to come together as a unit.

In a fine move, Fidel Benson, Jeff Gamble and Ciaran Keane combined well and the latter’s cross was headed down to Shane McInerney but he could only make a weak connection.

The Sky Blues began promisingly enough, but approach play was spoiled by the poor quality of crosses, mostly lobbed in and easy meat for the visiting keeper, with Chris Hogan, Niall Lennon and Dave O’Kelly among the guilty men.

On 27 minutes Cherryfield went ahead from a free header from a corner, awarded instead of a free out for a clear foul on Chris Hogan.

Bobby Hayes took off a fine save just on the break, tipping the ball around the post; he was even more disappointed than the opposition that the ref awarded a goal kick!

The second half saw the game become quite open, with both sets of defences looking porous. Spartak equalised when a Conor Keegan free was knocked back by Niall Lennon to give Dave O Kelly the simplest task from a yard out, but Cherryfield restored their lead five minutes later from a break out. Jeff Gamble responded with a fierce shot, but unfortunately too close to the keeper, who parried.

Jeff Gamble sent Kevin O’Connell in to equalise from a narrow angle with 18 minutes remaining but almost immediately Cherryfield scored from a clearly offside position.

The remaining minutes were frantic; Bobby Hayes saved well after a poor back pass by Dave O’Kelly; Cherryfield added a fourth and Jeff Gamble was fouled in the area but no penalty awarded.

The team remains a work in progress as new players bed in and fitness improves.

Form Report
Bobby Hayes 6 Barry Maguire 5 Chris Hogan 6 Conor Keegan 7 Kevin O Connell 7 Shane McInerney 5 Niall Lennon 5 Fidel Benson 5 Dave O’Kelly 5 Jeff Gamble 6 Ciaran Keane 5.
Subs: Mick Greene 5 Mick Young 5 Evans Sarpong 5

Sky Blues win a Frustrating game.

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

Spartak 4, Woods Utd 1.

Spartak were slightly flattered by the scoreline as the visitors dominated the final twenty minutes before Steve Walsh applied the coup de grace deep into injury time.

Spartak started well but attacks were halted by possibly over enthusiastic Martin Costello interventions, conceding frees or getting caught offside. Either way MArtin did not see eye to eye with the ref on these calls. A nice move between Neil McGowan and Steve Walsh then saw Martin Costello race down the right, but his cross was poor, mainly due to the kick on the calf he received en route.

The opening score came on 23 minutes when a neat Aodhan McCahill /Neil McGowan combination sent Steve Walsh into the penalty area on the left; a couple of jinks left opposition players flat footed and the precise cross which evaded the defenders left Martin Costello a simple task from 6 yards.

The number of decent attacking moves by Spartak which were halted by a whistle for offside made for a build up of frustration and it seemed at one point that the referee had reverted to the pre 1927 offside rule which required 3 players between the attacker and the goal line. Steve Walsh was blown offside on the edge of the area while a visiting defender stood at the edge of the six yard box.

A Steve Grier throw flicked on by Seamus McCahill was met at the back post by Neil McGowan whose header back across goal beat the keeper and struck the angle of post and bar; but no Sky Blue player was following up for what would have been an easy tap in.

So Spartak reached the interval just a goal up, despite some energetic efforts.

On 59 minutes a Walsh corner dropped favorably to Neil McGowan who made no mistake from close range. Paul Kinsella and Ken Buckley then were foolishly booked complaining about a blatant foul on Steve Walsh which did not result in a free.

Spartak were now quite flat and relying on breakaways; but these were regularly halted by offside calls, and as they dropped deeper the visitors reduced arrears on 69 minutes.

The Sky Blues response was quick and the third goal on 72 minutes saw a long Steve Grier pass send Steve Walsh away down the left and he showed great composure in his run and finish.

Woods continued to boss the midfield and Martin Costello cleared off the line, Bobby scrambled away another effort and a miskick by Aodhan McCahill presented an easy chance missed by the visitors. The Sky Blues were shipping some physical punishment with Steve Grier on the end of one tackle which went completely unpunished.

Bookings mounted for Spartak, with Neil McGowan and Seamus McCahill carded for fouls, the latter not helped by Paul Kinsella’s blood curdling exhortations.

A 99th minute goal by Steve Walsh, who ignored a half hearted offside appeal, raced away and calmly rounded the keeper to score after Stuart Love had won the ball and sent him through wrapped things up for Spartak.

Form Report
Bobby Hayes 6 David Kernan 7 Aodhan McCahill 7 Steve Grier 7 Paul Kinsella 7 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Ken Buckley 5 Seamus McCahill 5 Martin Costello 6 Steve Walsh 8.
Sub: Mick Leslie 5

Impetuous Defending Proves Costly

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

Glasnevin 4 Spartak 2

Spartak surrendered a half time lead to the local side and, despite a late rally when clear chances were missed, could not salvage anything from this game, mainly due to a serious lack of defensive concentration.

Missing a number if players, Spartak’s woes were increased when Kevin Loftus and Chris Hogan somehow contrived to be late for kick off, necessitating a further reshuffle of resources.

One unusual feature of the match was the supply of under inflated footballs by Glasnevin, which affected both sides. The referee was indifferent when this was pointed out, and the game proceeded.

Neither side started with confidence and the opening exchanges were tentative, but it was Spartak who took the lead on 15 minutes when Keith Kelly’s cross was turned in by Ciaran Keane at the second attempt after the keeper parried his first effort. Keith was then lucky not to be last man when yellow carded after losing possession. Shane McInerney broke up a Glasnevin attack at the cost of a free which Mick Greene parried but the home striker fired over. Keith Kelly was caught in possession but luckily the ensuing goal attempt was wide.

Fidel Benson fired over after connecting with Jamie Stewart’s cross, but at the other end Glasnevin struck the bar with Shane McInerney clearing off the line.

Some poor concentration at back by Spartak gave Glasnevin the chance to score almost immediately at the start of the second period and the striker made no mistake. In response Chris Hogan’s cross was fired over a couple of yards out by Ciaran Keane after Evans Sarpong held it up well.

A couple of disastrous defensive errors gave the home side goals in the 53rd and 60th minutes, as Spartak lost their defensive shape. 1-3.

Spartak then refocused and created some clear chances of their own. Shane McInerney tried to bundle in following a corner and then headed just wide from the next flag kick. A good run by Aodhan McCahill sent Ciaran Keane through racing in from the left but he pulled his shot wide. Evans Sarpong fired in a shot that was saved, and a number of Fidel Benson crosses just failed to meet their intended target.

A clearly offside goal gave the home side a 4-1 lead, before the ever versatile Mick Greene came out of goal to reduce arrears with a well struck direct free kick. Spartak then staged something of a grandstand finish, with the best chance coming when Conor Keegan’s header was pushed on to the bar by the keeper but Shane McInerney, following up kneed the rebound over the bar from a yard out.

Form Report
Mick Greene 7 Barry Maguire 6 Aodhan McCahill 7 Keith Kelly 6 Conor Keegan 6 Shane McInerney 6 Jamie Stewart 5 Niall Lennon 5 Evans Sarpong 6 Fidel Benson 6 Ciaran Keane 6
Subs: Chris Hogan 5 Kevin Loftus 5

Goal Burst

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

Valeview Shankill 2, Spartak 4

Three goals in a ten minute spell just after half time clinched the points for the Sky Blues in a tight game.

Valeview dominated the opening half and would consider themselves unfortunate not to be at least one goal ahead at the break, having spent the majority of the half in Spartak territory. Indeed the only Spartak effort of note was a long range Dave Kernan shot which was parried away, with Seamus McCahill tamely knocking the loose ball into the keeper’s hands.

Stuart Love, Jeff Gamble and Neil McGowan all made last ditch tackles tracking back , with the back four working overtime to stem the assault. Steve Grier was dominant in the aerial battles.

The whole complexion of the game quickly changed in the 48th minute and for the first time some Spartak defenders got forward. Aodhan McCahill won a tackle, raced forward before playing it back to Steve Grier; Steve’s long cross from the left found Steve Walsh lurking on the right hand side of the area and he controlled before firing home right footed.

The goal of the game came on 55 minutes, when Dave Kernan strode down the right from his own half. With home defenders backing off, he fired powerfully home from 25 yards.

Whwn a Paul Kinsella free caused the keeper to concede a corner, Neil McGowan nodded home Steve Walsh’s flag kick on 58 minutes.

Paul Kinsella, showing little in the way of composure, then managed to get himself yellow carded after a foul by a home player, who escaped sanction.

Stuart Love gave Jeff Gamble the assist for goal number 4 on 82 minutes to complete the Spartak tally. Martin Costello had two good chances, neither of which hit the target, when first played in by a McGowan-Walsh combination and then sent clear by a smashing Lee Malone crossfield pass.

With concentration dropping as players foolishly considered the game over the home side scored twice in the dying minutes, with ref playing 6 minutes of added time. Spartak were denied the clean sheet by some sloppy set piece defending.

Form Report
Bobby Hayes 7 David Kernan 9 Aodhan McCahill 7 Steve Grier 8 Paul Kinsella 6 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 7 Jeff Gamble 7 Seamus McCahill 7 Martin Costello 7 Steve Walsh 7
Subs: Lee Malone 6 Niall Hanratty 5 Dave Browne 5 Ken Buckley Adam Doran

Three Points Escape the grasp of Over 35s

Filed under: General news, Over 35 team by: Paul McGowan

Ballyoulster United 5 Spartak 4

Based on chances, possession and overall play it was scarcely credible that Spartak Over 35s should leave the pristine surroundings of Ballyoulster empty handed, but that’s the way it turned out. Spartak created at least 20 good chances, while the home side seemed to score 100% of their opportunities.

Spartak took an early lead, when James Byrne drove home a rebound after his header struck the bar. However a rash Tom Maher challenge allowed the home team to equalise from the spot, and when Colm Flynn’s punched clearance rebounded happily for the home side, Spartak found themselves 2-1 down.

A positive response saw a quick equaliser . James Byrne, his way to goal seemingly blocked by a wall of bodies, improvised with a clever chip to equalise, but just on half time a defensive mix up saw Spartak fall behind again. The Sky Blues spurned a good chance when Paddy Hughes just failed to convert after a good run by Oisin Ledwidge.

Spartak began the second period in storming fashion, with the home keeper saving well from Paddy Hughes’ header while Kevin O’Connell repeatedly went close without scoring.

A cross shot put Ballyoulster 4-2 up before a Dave Cullen free kick reduced arrears; Ballyoulster replied with a free of their own to make it 5-3.

From then to the end of the match it was all Spartak as a Sky Blue waved engulfed the home side. A neat Padraig Finnerty pass gave Dave Cullen the chance and he made no mistake.

In a frantic finale Gerry Doran hit the bar with a fine header; Oisin Ledwidge also struck the woodwork, while a number of fine corners by Matt Grimes went unconverted. The equaliser proved elusive however and Spartak were left to return home empty handed.

Spartak : Colm Flynn, Tony Kavanagh, Gerry Doran, Tom Maher, Padraig Finnerty, Stuart Lewins, Dave Cullen, Steve Mongey, James Byrne, Paddy Hughes, Oisin Ledwidge, Dave Cullen, Matt Grimes, Steve Caffery, Kevin O’Connell, Trevor Johnston, Shea McClafferty.

Two Points Dropped

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

Spartak 1, Palmerstown 1

A late goal denied Spartak all three points, as the Sky Blues began their season on a grassy pitch in Marlay park.

The start of the season seems to have come too early for some players, and Spartak were also missing Graham Breen and Karl McCullough through injury.

A pedestrian first half was brightened only by some excursions down the right wing by David Kernan , but his crosses could not find a Spartak attacker. Steve Walsh featured briefly to fire past a post, while Stuart Love, the most industrious player on view, headed narrowly wide. At the other end a lapse of concentration by Lee Malone saw Paul Kinsella cover at the expense of a yellow card. Indeed in a separate incident Paul was fortunate not to concede a penalty with a clumsy barge which the ref adjudged to be just outside. Spartak also had a penalty shout when Steve Walsh was barged but claims were waved away.

Indecisive defending saw a Palmerstown forward have a clean run on goal, but Jason Northey pawed his effort away.

Spartak remained sluggish at the start of the second period with Lee Malone recklessly firing across his own penalty area to an opponent, who luckily fired wide.

Better passing by Spartak paved the way for the lead goal on the hour when Seamus McCahill coolly finished after a good passing move following Neil McGowan recovering a ball he had just lost to start the sequence.

Spartak were unlucky to have a “goal” chalked out for offside when a long cross by Paul Kinsella from deep eluded both David Kernan and the keeper for Neil McGowan to race in and stretch to net. A cross by Seamus McCahill then eluded Jeff Gamble just yards out.

Palmerstown had a nice move and the striker struck the post when an equaliser seemed inevitable.

Spartak were now playing on the break and Seamus McCahill played in Ciaran Keane who had a clear run on goal but the keeper blocked. On a couple of other occasions good passes released Steve Walsh but he was unluckily deemed offside.

With just 90 seconds to go a long ball by Palmerstown saw indecision by Jason Northey allow a simple looping header to equalise.

Form Report
Jason Northey 5 Lee Malone 5 Aodhan McCahill 7 Steve Grier 7 Paul Kinsella 7 Stuart Love 7 Neil McGowan 6 David Kernan 6 Seamus McCahill 7 Jeff Gamble 5 Steve Walsh 5
Subs: Ciaran Keane 5 Ken Buckley 5

No Joy

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

Sallynoggin Pearse 3, Spartak 0

A combination of poor defensive decisions and some

Sallynoggin had the best of the first half and made plenty of inroads down their right flank, where Chris Hogan had an unhappy time. Keith Kelly and Martin Costello shored up the defence, but it was poor distribution by the latter that allowed the home side to break and take the lead on 18 minutes; just before that the home right winger had struck the post.

Despite having less possession, with Shane McInerney and Ken Buckley trying to man the pumps in central midfield, Spartak had a glorious chance to equalise when Jeff Gamble sent Ciaran Keane through one on one, but the finish was dragged wide.

Worse followed on 26 minutes when a Chris Hogan throw in was directed into a nest of home players; the consequent cross was converted.

Bobby Hayes made a good stop at the start of the second period when the right winger again got in behind. Again Gamble squared for Keane, but with the home keeper scrambling the shot was screwed wide.

Conor Callis belatedly came into the game and hit the bar with one effort and had another blocked, and then when Aaron Ormerod put him through he lifted the ball past the keeper but wide.

The third home goal finished the game as a contest and resulted from a poor throw out by Bobby Hayes from which Spartak never got possession, and the home side struck a good shot from the edge of the box.

Form Report
Bobby Hayes 6 Conor Canavan 6 Chris Hogan 4 Keith Kelly 7 Martin Costello 7 Shane McInerney 6 Ken Buckley 6 Conor Callis 6 Mick Greene 6 Jeff Gamble 6 Ciaran Keane 6
Subs: Dermot Dooley 7 Aaron Ormerod 6