Match Report - By Steven Mew
A late header from Blair Henderson gave Spartans a slender advantage going into next weeks Pyramid Playoff 2nd leg at Glebe Park.
The game may be seen as a missed opportunity for City who played for much of the game against 10 men after home skipper Kevin Waugh was sent off after 37 minutes, but they were unable to make the most of the numerical advantage.
Manager Andy Kirk opted to go with an attacking lineup with 2 changes from the title-winning match against Buckie Thistle last weekend, with defenders Jamie Bain and Nathan Cooney both making way for Jordan Northcott and Anthony McDonald.
In front of a bumper crowd of 2020 swelled by a considerable travelling support, City were first to threaten in the opening few minutes as the lively McDonald darted past a couple of players but former City man Jordan Tapping did well to stop him in his tracks.
Cammy Russell had a shot blocked for the home side whilst at the other end, Inglis set Biabi through with a lofted ball over the top but his attempted past through to strike partner McGrath was intercepted by the Spartans defence.
The Lowland League champions started to grow into the game with Jones flashing a volley wide and a few minutes later there was a real scare for City when Wilson fumbled a left sided cross, but Spark was on hand to clear the danger.
Spartans’ top goalscorer Blair Henderson had a shot deflected wide on 36 minutes, but shortly after they would be dealt a blow as they were reduced to 10 men.
Scott played a pass forward to McDonald who advanced with the ball before being scythed down by Kevin Waugh just inside the Spartans half. Referee Graham Grainger deemed it as denying a goalscoring opportunity and issued the home skipper with a red card.
On the stroke of half time, McGrath slipped a pass into McDonald who came inside on his left foot before curling an effort wide of the far post.
Just a couple of minutes after the restart, City came close through Biabi who did well to hold the ball up inside the box before shooting on the turn – Carswell spilled the shot but McGrath was just unable to get the rebound as the keeper got down well to save at his feet.
Shortly after, an attack down the left for the home side resulted in Russell striking the outside of the post before Wilson gathered the loose ball. The lively Russell would come close again a couple of minutes later when he met a cross unmarked at the back post but he was unable to keep his volley down.
City soaked up the pressure and started to threaten themselves. Northcott fired wide from 20 yards and McHattie would come even closer with a rasping strike from a similar range which rattled the crossbar.
Despite the earlier sending off, there certainly wasn’t much between the sides though City did start to stretch the Spartans defence in the final quarter of an hour.
On 75 minutes Scott came inside on his left foot but his shot flew over the bar and Inglis was next to threaten five minutes later but he dragged his shot wide.
City kept pushing for that elusive goal and a ball over the top from Inglis found Biabi who got the better of Tapping before firing a powerful effort into the side netting.
Just as it looked as if the tie would go into the second leg evenly poised at 0-0, the home side nudged themselves in front. Scott conceded a cheap free kick on the by-line and the set-piece found BLAIR HENDERSON who rose above Wilson to head into the net.
It was a cruel end to the game for City but despite the defeat, it’s still all to play for at Glebe Park on Saturday in the second leg. Manager Andy Kirk will doubtless be looking for an improved showing from his side who will be more than capable of overturning the slender deficit.