By Connor Ryan
Albion Rovers starting XI: 1. Jack Leighfield 2. Adam Fernie 3. Blair Malcolm 4. Ayrton Sonkur 6. Kyle Fleming 8. Jamie Leslie 11. Charlie Reilly 12. Ewan Wilson 14. Joe Bevan 21. Euan Mutale 22. Luke Graham
Subs: 9. Scott Roberts (replaced Mutale on 31′) 10. Michael Paton (replaced Joe Bevan on 77′) 15. Devan McColl 16. Barry Duncan 17. Chris Smith 18. Kieran Dolan 19. Max Wright 23. Josh McCulloch
Spartans starting XI: 1. Blair Carswell 2. Kieran Watson 3. Harvey Swann 4. Kevin Waugh 5. Jordan Tapping 6. Rhys Armstrong 7. Jamie Dishington 8. Sam Jones 9. Blair Henderson 10. Brad Whyte 11. Cammy Russell
Subs: 12. Jamie Penker 14. Ian McFarland 15. Sean Brown 16. Gregor Woods 17. Michael Herd 18. Alan Brown 19. Adam Meek 20. Josh Laing 21. Gavin Morrison
It’s all to play for in the Cinch League 2 relegation play-off as we battled out a 1-1 draw away to Spartans yesterday afternoon in the first leg.
Luke Graham’s headed goal in the 39th minute was cancelled out by a Rovers own goal with 25 minutes left on the clock to set up a tense second leg at Cliftonhill next week.
The first 15 minutes of the match would see little chances from both teams, as each side attempted to ease their way into the game.
Spartans would have a dangerous corner cleared away following a mix up while Charlie Reilly was looking promising down the left hand side early on.
The next chances for Rovers would arrive just before the half hour mark as Mutale would manage to get a shot away which would go wide of the goal. Mutale would be forced off shortly after this and replaced by Scott Roberts.
Charlie Reilly would appear to be through on goal in the 35th minute and went down in the box, but the referee deemed it to be a dive thus Reilly received a yellow card.
The deadlock would be broken for Rovers on the 39th minute following a corner as Luke Graham rose above everyone in the box to head home, giving Rovers a 1-0 lead just before half time.
Spartans would have the first chance of the second half just five minutes in as a deflected strike looped onto the top of the net, with the strike leaving Jack Leighfield rooted.
It would take until the 58th minute for Rovers to have their first serious attempt on goal as we got in on goal down the left hand side, but the resulting effort from Kyle Fleming was blocked.
Spartans would pile on the pressure after the hour mark and would get their reward in the 63rd as some poor defending in the box led to an own goal from Rovers, levelling the score at 1-1.
There would be little chances from either side as the main battles were occurring in the midfield area, with the only notable event seeing Joe Bevan being replaced by Michael Paton on the 77th minute.
Rovers last chance of the game would come in the dying minutes as Charlie Reilly swung a corner into the box but it was easily dealt with by the Spartans defence.
Attention now turns to next Saturday as we welcome Spartans to Cliftonhill for the return leg of the relegation play-off, with the game being the final game of our 22/23 season.
Goal scorers: Luke Graham (ARFC) Ayrton Sonkur (ARFC OG)
Bookings: Charlie Reilly (ARFC) Jordan Tapping (SFC) Harvey Swan (SFC) Jamie Dishington
Referee: Peter Stuart
Assistant referees: John McCrossan and Peter MaCavinue