Cup Disappointment

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

Spartak 1, Cabinteely 2

The Sky Blues exited the cup in a tight contest in Marlay.

Ger Byrne gave the Sky Blues the lead on the quarter hour mark with a loveley finish after running on to Steve Walsh’s incisive through ball.
A determined visiting side pushed Spartak back and equalised midway through the half with a firm shot, struck from the edge of the box as a headed clearance fell to the unattended forward.

Kevin Loftus made a few sharp stops as Cabinteely pressed their advantage, but there was no further scoring in the first half.

An early second half goal proved to be the winner for Cabinteely. Dave Kernan was dispossessed and a quick through ball saw the visiting number 10 run clear through the middle and finish. There may have been a suspicion of offside but the goal stood.

Spartak huffed and puffed but lacked the guile to create an equaliser and struggled to match the visitors in midfield. Seamus McCahill headed just over and Billy O’Neill fired over with an angled effort, while Cabinteeley struck the woodwork at the other end.

Form Report
Kevin Loftus 7 Dave Browne 6 Billy O’Neill 6 Seamus McCahill 6 Darragh Logue 6 Stuart Love 6 Niall Lennon 5 Steve Grier 5 Dave Kernan 6 Ger Byrne 6 Steve Walsh 5.
Subs: Owen Marron 5, Tom O’Driscoll 5 Aodhan McCahill 5 Ian Harmon 5.

Win Lifts Spartak to Fourth Place

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

Walkinstown 1, Spartak 2

Despite the absence of a number of key players, the Sky Blues produced a fine performance to garner three points and move to the edge of the promotion race.

Spartak began well and vreated several clear chances before going ahead just before half time. Jason Kelly took adavantage of a keeper miskick but fired wide of the empty goal, Then fine move between Danny Loughran and Gerry McGuinness set up the unmarked Ciaran Keane seven yards out, but he fired over. An Owen McCormack free caused havoc in the home penalty box, but Kevin Murphy, from no more than a couple of yards saw his effort blocked for a corner.

Finally Danny Loughran ran on to a deflected long ball to round the keeper and make it 1-0.

That’s not to say the home side were without a few efforts, and Spartak were grateful to Greg Byrne for a couple of sharp saves.

The home side came out in very determined fashion for the second half and equalised after a couple of minutes from close range. Spartak were put under the cosh and had to defend manfully to repel the home side’s attacks. Breakouts were rare and on one occasion Conor Callis had a good run, beat his man , but his cross let him down.

With 15 minutes to go, Conor Callis had a good run, beat his man again; this time he was tripped – penalty. Owen McCormack despatched the kick efficiently.

Then came the real siege. Walkinstown had a big miss, wide from a good position. Then they struck the post, and finally, in stoppage time, there were incredible goal line clearances from Chris Hogan and Sean Doyle.

A gritty win.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 8 Chris Hogan 8 Leo Behan 8 Owen McCormack 8 Kevin Murphy 8 Jason Kelly 7 Conor Callis 7 Mick Leslie 7 Gerry McGuinness 8 Ciaran Keane 7 Danny Loughran 7
Sub: Sean Doyle 7

Mission Impossible

Filed under: Saturday LSL team by: Paul McGowan

Rush 4, Spartak 0

It seems this game was not destined to go well for the Sky Blues.

Numerous cry offs and no shows made for a struggle to field a side, notwithstanding that only 5 points separated the sides before the game. Additionally, Spartak had a game in hand on second placed Rush, who had succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in Marlay earlier in the season.

Luckily, club stalwarts Stuart Love, Dave Browne and Tom O’Driscoll travelled to fill some of the gaps.

Worse was to follow. The referee awarded the first two ludicrously offside goals, while missing a really bad tackle on Stephen Barr. The offside goals were not of the usual few disputed marginal yards, in each case the home forward, assuming the whistle would blow, had to be urged to carry on by his quicker thinking team mates.

For the second goal, the Rush player was not within 30 yards of a Spartak defender, but allowed to carry on and score. Everyone present assumed the ref was waiting for the player to touch the ball before whistling.

Naturally, goals change games, and finding themselves unjustly two down early in the second period, anxiety and bad decision making by Spartak compounded the situation. Sean Doyle missed a couple of opportunities to claw Spartak back into the game, Mick Leslie forced the keeper into a good save, but, despite the efforts of all the home side took advantage of errors to add two legitimate goals, albeit the result of sloppy defending.

The Sky Blues, to their credit, stuck gamely to the impossible task, driven on by Leo Behan in midfield and the energy of Sean Doyle and the indefatigable Mick Leslie, but could not do much against such impossible odds.

The refereeing standards in the LSL have really plummeted.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 5 Dave Browne 6 Sean Doyle 7 Stephen Barr 6 Stuart Love 6 Andre Gabriel 5 Mick Leslie 6 Leo Behan 7 Tom O’Driscoll 5 Kevin Murphy 5
Sub: Kevin Loftus 5

Mudlark in Marlay ends all square

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

Spartak 1, Sallynoggin 1

Overnight and early morning rain made the pitch very heavy for this contest between two old rivals.

Sallynoggin started much the better side and were somewhat unfortunate to go in at the interval without scoring, having had much the better of the play. The assured presence of Greg Byrne in the Spartak goal, who dealt capably with shots and crosses, set the tone for a decent defensive display, and clear chances were few and far between in the first half for either side. Indeed the Sky Blues had very few first half opportunities in a lacklustre half. Ger Byrne raced onto a Jeff Gamble flick, but his touch was too heavy and the ball ran on to the keeper. When the visiting custodian kicked out weakly, Neil McGowan sent Jeff Gamble through but he shot early and over. Spartak’ best first half move saw Steve Grier, Jeff Gamble and Owen Marron combine to set up Ger Byrne, but his effort was blocked.

Spartak began the second half as though they meant business, and Stuart Love , twice, and Neil McGowan went close. Sallynoggin then missed a big chance when Greg Byrne parried a shot, but on 56 minutes the visitors went ahead in controversial circumstances. A push on a Spartak defender saw a forward get free, and his cross was tapped in by an unmarked colleague.
Almost immediately Niall Lennon and Owen Marron carved out a clear chance for Ger Byrne, but he pulled the ball just wide. Tom O’Driscoll then had a chance with a ball that rebounded quickly to him twelve yards out, but he fired over.

Ger Byrne, through again, took a touch too many before trying to round the keeper, who fouled him as the ball ran wide. Much to Ger’s chagrin , he was booked for diving. In a big scramble the ball then bounced on top of the bar back into play before being cleared.

Sallynoggin were denied in a rare breakaway by the advancing Greg Byrne, before a penalty was awarded for a foul on Steve Grier. There was a considerable delay as the visitors protested long and loud, and Steve Grier’s penalty was weak and easily gathered by the keeper.

With time running out, Darragh Logue, deployed as an emergency striker, forced the ball over the line from close range to give Spartak a share of the points.

The Sky Blues had enough chances to win, but had to battle hard to get something from the game.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Dave Kernan 6 Billy O’Neill 6 Steve Grier 6 Darragh Logue 7 Stuart Love 6 Neil McGowan 6 Jeff Gamble 5 Niall Lennon 6 Ger Byrne 5 Owen Marron 6
Subs: Seamus McCahill 6 Tom O’Driscoll 6 Aodhan McCahill 6

Tough Opener

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

Balbriggan 3, Spartak 0

A long Friday night trek to a dismal windy, cold and wet astro in Balbriggan was the setting for Spartak’s opening game of 2018, the first after the Christmas break.

After a decent first half showing, the Sky Blues faded badly in the second period, and were grateful for some decent stops by Dan Galvin.

The best chances fell to Ger Byrne in the opening half, when put through by Steve Walsh, but Ger opted for power over precision and fired over the crossbar. Tom O’Driscoll gave Ger another opportunity but the ball was screwed wide, while Steve Grier drew a good save from the home stopper.

The second period saw the home side add two deserved goals, while for Spartak it was a damage limitation exercise.

Form Report
Dan Galvin 8 Dave Kernan 6 Billy O’Neill 5 Steve Grier 5 Darragh Logue 5 Tom O’Driscoll 5 Neil McGowan 5 Mick Leslie 5 Niall Lennon 5 Ger Byrne 5 Steve Walsh 5
Subs: Andre Gabriel 5 Cian Donohoe 5

Spartak Finish Year in Style

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

Spartak 10, Ashbourne 0

The Sky Blues fired a ten goal salvo against a hapless Ashbourne side that was hampered by an early red card, and suffered another dismissal in the second half.

Spartak were not in sympathetic mood, and Mick Leslie helped himself to a five goal haul to top the club scoring charts. Andre Gabriel (2), Cian Stenson, Jason Kelly and Stuart Love got the other scores.

Early on, Greg Byrne saved well to keep the visitors at bay, but after the dismissal had little to do. Steve Grier and Stuart Love combined to open the floodgates, and the goals flowed in quick succession.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 7 Chris Hogan 7 Cian Stenson 7 Steve Grier 8 Dave Browne 7 Stuart Love 8 Jason Kelly 8 Niall Hade 8 Dave Berry 8 Mick Leslie 9 Andre Gabriel 7
Subs: Seamus McCahill 6 Ciaran Keane 5 Danny Loughran 6

Welcome Victory

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

Spartak 4, Bray 1

A 25 yard effort from Steve Grier gave the Sky Blues a deserved half time lead; Spartak had made most of the running, but were pegged back at the start of the second period.

Steve Grier headed in a corner kick to restore the lead, and Jeff Gamble repeated the feat to make it 3-1. Andre Gabriel had taken both flag kicks.

Owen Marron made a super clearance to prevent Bray coming back into the contest, and Ger Byrne made sure of the points when firing in Dave Berry’s cross after Niall Lennon’s interception had picked out the wide man.

A satisfying result.

Form Report
Kevin Loftus 6 Dave Kernan 6 Dave Browne 6 Steve Grier 8 Karl McCullagh 7 Stuart Love 7 Owen Marron 7 Jeff Gamble 7 Niall Lennon 7 Ger Byrne 7 Andrei Gabriel 7
Subs: Tom O’Driscoll 6 Dave Berry 6

All Out Attack

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

St Anthonys Kilcoole 5, Spartak 5

Another extraordinary match and scoreline in what is becoming a weekly goalfest.

Three up inside fifteen minutes, Spartak’s blistering attacking moves showed zest, quick passing and clinical finishing to disorient the home defence. Jeff Gamble’s persistence and tenacity got the first goal inside a minute; then he combined with Ger Byrne who crossed for Owen Marron to nod in. Owen and Dave Kernan’s move saw Ger Byrne hit the bar with Stuart Love knocking in the rebound.

The home side rallied somewhat and forced Kevin Loftus into a couple of saves. Darragh Logue produced an elegant piece of defending to halt a dangerous move. But it was not till the stroke of half time that they reduced arrears when Kevin Loftus parried a shot into the path of an attacker who fired in.

There were several penalty claims by Spartak ignored, most obviously when Steve Grier was pushed in the back before he could shoot.

With just four second half minutes gone, St Anthony’s made it 2-3 when a long cross was squared back across the six yard box for an unmarked tap in. Worse was to follow when Owen Marron, having tracked back assiduously, made a hash of his clearance and the local player took full advantage – 3.3.

Steve Grier forced in Steve Walsh’s spot kick at the second attempt to regain the lead for the Sky Blues before the hosts struck back twice to gain the lead for the first time. With 8 minutes remaining the Walsh/Grier axis struck again from a flag kick for Steve Grier to equalise.

Then the real helter-skelter began as both sides went all out attack.

Both Niall Lennon and Dave Kernan had clear runs on goal as the final whistle approached, but heavy touches proved costly. The home team also spurned a couple of good opportunities before the game ended as Spartak broke again – but the ref blew to book a home player, before finally blowing the whistle on a breathtaking match.

Form Report
Kevin Loftus 6 Dave Kernan 7 Billy O’Neill 7 Darragh Logue 7 Karl McCullagh 7 Stuart Love 7 Owen Marron 7 Niall Lennon 8 Steve Grier 8 Ger Byrne 8 Jeff Gamble 8
Subs: Dave Browne 5 Steve Walsh 7 Cian Donohoe 5

Clean Sheet Victory

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


Spartak 1, Castleknock Celtic 0

Spartak owed the clean sheet to some stout defending, assured goalkeeping by Greg Byrne, but also to a big miss by a Castleknock player in the first half. The winger evaded Kevin Loftus and Chris Hogan to deliver an inviting cross to the unmarked striker, who headed against the crossbar and over when it seemed a routine act to score

This chance came after the visitors had established a level of control, late in the first half. For the first quarter or so, Spartak had dominated proceedings, only to be let down by the final ball, or lack of composure in front of goal. The best chance fell to Dave Berry, still rusty after a long lay off, who raced on to a deflected pass to go one on one. Opting for power rather than finesse, he blasted the ball at the keeper who pushed it onto the post and away for a corner. Cian Stenson also had a score ruled out for offside.

Passes then started to go astray and the visitors were allowed into the contest.

Many times during the game, Conor Callis showed a clean pair of heels to the visitors’ defence, but too often the final ball was lacking. It was however from one of his runs which forced a corner that brought the decisive goal, Niall Hade nodding in Dave Berry’s flag kick in the 73rd minute.

As the visitors pushed forward in search of the equaliser, Spartak broke as Mick Leslie beat the keeper in a race for Greg Byrne’s kick out. Mick squared it to Matt Forbes, whose effort was cleared off the line. Appeals for handball were ignored.

Form Report
Greg Byrne 9 Kevin Loftus 6 Cian Stenson 7 Chris Hogan 7 Keith Kelly 8 Darren Ritchie 7 Leo Behan 7 Conor Callis 6 Mick Leslie 6 Niall Hade 6 Dave Berry 6
Sub: Matt Forbes 5

No Joy in Finglas

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

Finglas Utd 4, Spartak 3

A Spartak side missing a few regulars went down to a late comeback by the local side.

A dramatic goal line block in the last seconds denied Darragh Logue an equaliser.

On a fine pitch, Spartak started brightly and took the lead in the first minute. A move involving Dave Browne, Owen Marron, Neil McGowan and Dave Kernan gave Ger Byrne the opportunity, and he scored despite a defender handling en route to the net.

Owen Marron made a marvellous block to prevent a certain goal after Kevin Loftus parried a shot in the goalmouth. Spartak took a two goal lead when Neil McGowan volleyed in, right footed, from Ger Byrne’s cross after a blistering run down the touchline.

Almost immediately the home side reduced arrears; but then Spartak, playing fast attacking football, created a host of chances. Dave Kernan’s effort was blocked; Neil McGowan and Stuart Love both fired wide from decent positions.

The home side came back strongly, forcing a goal line clearance, and then equalised when sloppy defending conceded possession. Ger Byrne converted Dave Kernan’s cross, but despite the home side going down to ten men, they availed of two crass defensive errors to score twice as Spartak squandered good possession.

A decent display, spoiled, yet again, by lack of concentration in the final quarter.

Form Report
Kevin Loftus 6 Dave Browne 5 Billy O’Neill 6 Darragh Logue 6 Karl McCullagh 7 Stuart Love 5 Neil McGowan 6 Dave Kernan 7 Niall Lennon 5 Ger Byrne 9 Owen Marron 7
Subs: Cian Stenson 5 Tom O’Driscoll 5 Mick Leslie 5 Andrei Gabriel 6