Spartans 2

Selkirk 1

David Knox at Ainslie Park

SELKIRK manager Ian Fergus saluted his rising stars despite a late sucker punch denying them a share of the points with Spartans.

The youthful Souters had battled bravely throughout an intense and fast-paced 90 minutes.

And they caused home keeper Blair Carswell plenty to think about with some swift counter attacking.

Despite conceding late to lose the game, Fergus told us: “I thought we played some excellent football and the boys can count themselves very unlucky not to have taken something from the game.

“We showed great character to come back from the penalty and we tried to come back again in injury time.

“I can take a lot from today’s game.”

Many are predicting Spartans for the title this season and they showed why during the opening quarter of an hour.

Former Vale player Jay Stevens thought he’d scored on his home debut only for the offside flag to go up.

Selkirk’s hard-working midfield were also helping to create at the other end with Daryl Healy going close on 20 minutes.

George Hunter, on his return to the club which sold him to St Johnstone, was also posing a threat with his clever runs and link up play with Healy.

But it was Spartans who went closest again approaching the half hour with Ross Allum being pulled up for a foul on Gregor Amos as they competed for a cross in front of goal.

Just a few minutes later Allum headed a Craig Stevenson a foot over.

But it was the visitors who finished the half the strongest.

Ryan Scalter shaved the bar with a powerful freekick.

And in the 44th minute a terrific counter attack involving half the team led to Hunter firing over from just 12 yards out.

While the first half had been open and flowing, the second period became more of an arm-wrestle with both midfields cancelling each other out.

But with ten minutes to go Allum was pulled down in the area.

The former Edinburgh City player sent Amos the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Within 90 seconds Selkirk pulled level as Hunter made up for his earlier miss by firing home at the back post.

Spartans threw players forward to salvage victory and they were rewarded in the 87th minute as Amos saved well to deny Ian McFarland, but the recently introduced trialist was on hand to hit the net with the rebound.

Selkirk again attempted to pull level with Phil Addison and Hunter both having attempts from around the edge of the area.

The final whistle brought a sigh of relief for the large home support and a shake of the head from gaffer Fergus.

He added: “It’s hard to take when you play so well and don’t even get a point.”

Selkirk. G Amos , R Sclater, R Donaldson, A Fleming, C Helm, (P Addison 58), S McKirdy (R King 89), M Christie, G Hunter, D Healy, C Chalmers & D Baxter (J Hopkinson 75:11).