Spartans put in a superb team performance to comfortably beat Sutton Sting 7-1 in their final game of the regular season last Saturday to clinch the final play-off spot in Dumfries. Sutton, who needed to win to see them make 4th spot, in the end were no match for Spartans who put in a competent showing to secure the win. Ollie Barron’s opener just after 7 seconds settled Spartans nerves but a stubborn Sting equalised through John Ross. It was a close opening 20 minutes with Spartans looking comfortable all the same but some nice individual skill from Shaun Wild outsmarted the Sutton defence to fire Spartans back in front. Spartans gradually wore Sutton down in the second with two more goals, one apiece for Ollie & Will Barron to put Spartans firmly in the driving seat. The wind had clearly been knocked out of Sutton’s sails and when Jonathan Kirk fired in a brace to make it 6-1 it was basically game over. Sutton, who weren’t at their best, tried to fight their way back into the game but they were no match for a well drilled Spartans team who scored again through Nick Manning to put the game beyond any doubt for a well-deserved 7-1 win.
The result saw Spartans qualify for the play-off finals, finishing 3 points ahead of rivals Sutton Sting. It’s been a fantastic achievement by Spartans, especially after the feeling of under achievement last season when a dip in form saw them miss out on the play-offs. There were no slip ups this time round and although the team wanted four wins from the last four games; three wins & one draw was suffice to see them over the finishing line.
Spartans Coach Martin White summed it up by saying…”The Sutton gamed turned out to be all we’d hoped for, not only did we secure the point needed to make the play-offs but we did it in style by starting well and carrying on from the performance vs Blackburn two weeks previously. We executed our plays well, maintained discipline and found the net on a more regular basis than we have in the past, when Sutton did create Brandon kicked big to keep them at bay and we thoroughly deserved the 4th place spot and the chance to go to the showcase weekend in Solway.
To make the play-offs means a lot to the Spartans, I think I’m correct in saying we’re the only team in our league without a title sponsor or a playing budget of some sort, the lads pay subs to cover training and game ice and chip in to cover the cost of travel when our gates don’t fund the away trips. We appreciate our loyal core supporters who’ve continued to support the team through thick and thin and without them we’d have been playing in front of only the travelling away support. We hope the 4th place this season pays them back for their support, as it’s greatly appreciated by all the staff and players.
We might not be a glamourous team, we don’t field imports, we don’t always score bags of goals, but if you’ve watched us play over a period of time you’ll know we’re a committed bunch who give it everything each and every time we take to the ice. And when it comes together, we can beat anyone, that belief has kept us going and pushed us forward whenever we’ve had a bad run of form.
When appointed two years ago alongside the then club head coach Mark Heron, myself and Mark set out to make the play-offs within two years, and to put the team in a position to move further forwards from that point. On a personal note it’s a nice way to sign off my second stint as Spartans coach, and thanks to the efforts of the lads over the last two seasons they’ve put themselves in a great position to go on and achieve more in the future”
Before any of that there is the small matter of the play-offs up in Dumfries. Spartans face the undefeated Blackburn Hawks in their semi-final and although Spartans will be considered massive underdogs for the game there is one thing you can be sure of…in a role the lads relish they will do their upmost best to win the game, just as they do week in week out with honesty & passion!