A poor performance by Spartans was punished by Northern League side Shildon AFC at Croft Park tonight as the visitors gave Spartans a lesson in clinical finishing to run out deserved 3-1 winners. Goals from Johnson, Garvie and a Wayne Buchanan own goal ensured that Gary Forrest’s side got the win. Tommy Cassidy’s side had several chances but paid the price for some poor finishing and a below par performance all round the park.
Surprisingly given the result it was the home side that started the better and had several early chances. Fielding a trialist up front alongside Craig Farrell and it was that trialist who had the first chance of the game. A Robbie Dale cross was dropped by the visitors’ keeper and the trialist dragged his shot wide of the near post. Ten minutes in and Dale was next to try his chances as he cut in from the right and his curled effort was saved easily. Five minutes later and a flowing Spartans move involving the trialist, Salim and Utterson saw the latter fire a shot just over. On the half hour another good move it was the trialist involved again as a Joe Kendrick ball to Craig Farrell and the former Carlisle United striker released the trialist who fired over from twenty yards.
However for all their chances Spartans couldn’t break the deadlock and were punished by Shildon with a well worked goal. A slip in midfield by Sam Hodgson saw a lightening quick break. A pinpoint cross found Johnson who finished well from eight yards out. With the visitors set to go into the half time interval a goal to the good, they doubled their lead with an unfortunate own goal from Wayne Buchanan. The Spartans centre back tried to intercept a cross but only diverted the ball past Conor Grant in the Spartans goal.
The first chance of the second half fell to Craig Farrell as his twenty five yard free kick crashed off the post and substitute Patrick Nzuzi fired the rebound over. An otherwise low key start to the second half meant that it took until after the hour for anything else meaningful to happen and it was again the visitors who the chance fell to. A slick passing move saw Garvie released and he finished well through the legs of Grant to make it 3-0 to Shildon. With fifteen minutes left Spartans finally took a chance and it fell to another trialist. A Kendrick cross was flicked on to the trialist who finished smartly into the bottom corner. However there was to be no great comeback for Spartans and save for an Nzuzi chance with ten minutes left they ran out of steam and the game ended 1-3 to Shildon.
Due to the cancellation of the scheduled friendly against Gateshead Reserves this coming Saturday, Spartans’ next fixture will be their opening Evo-Stik Northern Premier League game at Witton Albion on Saturday 18th August.