A late Joe Kendrick penalty ensured that Spartans drew their latest pre-season friendly tonight at Croft Park against FA Vase winners Dunston UTS. An early Galbraith free kick from all of twenty five yards had given the visitors the lead until Spartans were literally given the chance to equalise when Dunston defender Cattenach handled under pressure from Craig Farrell and Kendrick made no mistake from the spot.
Spartans had the first chance of the night when on two minutes a Kendrick cross was nodded down by Chris Fairless into the path of Farrell who fired over from the edge of the box. Two minutes later and the visitors had the lead when a foul by Tom Berj gave Dunston a free kick from distance. Galbraith couldn’t have hit it any sweeter and he curled a left footed effort into the bottom corner of Conor Grant’s net. There was almost an instant reaction from Spartans when a Robbie Dale corner was headed goalwards by Fairless but his effort was cleared by a combination of defender and keeper. Midway through the half some good work from Farrell released Patrick Nzuzi down the right wing and his cross nearly found the onrushing Shaun Vipond but was cleared by Cattenach at the last minute. A seemingly quiet end to the first half seemed in store until a rash challenge on Berj saw the referee ask Dunston manager Billy Irwin to replace the offender rather than showing a red card. Seconds later the half time whistle blew with the visitors going in a goal to the good.
The first chance of the second half fell to Spartans substitute Abu Saim who latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box and his effort flashed past the post. Ten minutes into the second period and it was Saim again who tested the Dunston keeper when his deflected effort was well saved down low. Spartans suffered an injury blow on sixty minutes when the impressive Berj was challenged and fell awkwardly meaning he was replaced by a trialist. The home side had their best chance yet minutes later when Robbie Dale flicked a clearance into the path of Farrell who expertly rounded the keeper but was beaten by an ever increasing angle and fired just wide.
Spartans kept up the pressure and with ten minutes left won a number of corners but couldn’t quite force an equaliser. However as the clock ticked down Farrell chased what seemed to many to be a lost cause and his pressure saw Dunston defender Cattenach handle. Making his first appearance at Croft Park since sealing a permanant move to Spartans, Joe Kendrick was handed the responsibility of taking the spot kick and made no mistake firing hard and low and sending the visitors keeper the wrong way to give Spartans a draw that was the very least they deserved.
Next up for Spartans is their final scheduled friendly of pre-season as Team Northumbria make the trip to Croft Park this coming Saturday in a 3pm kick off