|August 3, 2013||2:30 pm||BAFA NL II South Central||2013|
|Milton Keynes Pathfinders||6||21||14||3||44||Win|
6 - 44Full Time
The nightmare 2013 season took a step closer to its end with a disheartening 6-44 defeat at the hands of the Milton Keynes Pathfinders
The Spartans travelled with a smaller-than-usual squad, which combined with the August heat to make this physical confrontation a war of attrition which the home side were better prepared for.
The first quarter saw the teams slug it out as they looked to take a hold of the game. It was a tough, brusing encounter, and Aarom Millar gave the Spartans the edge with an early fumble recovery. However, the Spartans offense, lead by quarterback Brandon Slieker, were unable to generate any spark, and the ball soon found its way back to the Pathfinders.
Using a combination of punishing runs up the middle, and short, accurate passes, the Pathfinders marched down the field. A quick pass to an open running back over the middle found a seam in the Spartans defensive backfield, and the Pathfinder scampered home to open the scoring. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the home side were ahead 0-6.
The Spartans offense managed to move downfield, receiver Joe Parsons displaying great ability to haul in two deep Slieker passes in heavy traffic. However, they were forced to settle for a long Aaron Millar field goal attempt, which the home side were fortunate to block. Their joy was short-lived, however, as linebacker Neil Cooper stepped in front of the receiver on the Pathfinders first offensive play and took the ball home for a touchdown. Millar’s extra-point was again blocked, and the teams entered the second quarter all square at 6-6.
The second quarter saw the home side pull away, a long rushing touchdown and a successfull two-point conversion saw their lead extended to 14-6. The Spartans offense again struggled to move the football, and found themselves pinned deep in their own territory following a downed Pathfinders punt. The visitors were fortunate to avoid the safety score when Sliekers wayward pitch to Craig Willis was recovered at the one-yard line, but, shortly after, Millar stpped out of the back of the endzone on a punt attempt to allow the Pathfinders to increase their advantage 6-16.
The home side extended their lead shortly after with another rushing score and two-point conversion, and as the half ended, a field goal gave the home side a comfortable 6-27 lead.
With victory all but assured, the Pathfinders switched things up in the second half and came out in a spread offense, leaning more towards a passing attack than their punishing ground game which had served them so well in the opening two quarters. The vistios defense were up to the task, however, and held firm, giving their offense another chance to generate some spark.
It was not to be, however, Slieker firing an interception which the Pathfinders quickly converted into an aerial strike. With the extra-point conversion, they had reason to celebrate after going further ahead 6-34.
The Spartans offense seemed lost and confused. A fumble deep in their own territory was quickly converted into more points by the eager Pathfinders, and as the game entered it’s final quarter, they were looking comfortable at 6-41.
The Spartans saw their players put in some strong and meorable performances. Kieron Goymer played offense, defense, and special teams, recording numerous tackles and almost collecting his first interception of the season. Linemen played both ways, with rookie Dave Macpherson putting in an eye-catching display in his first game on the defensive line. Other players, such as Jack Holder and Craig Willis, played through the pain barrier as the team looked for answers.
The fianl quarter saw both sides struggle with the heat and low squad numbers. Defensive back Graham Sorhaindo registered his first interception of the season, but the only scoring game on a Pathfinders field goal to see them end the game with a 6-44 victory.
After the game, an unbeat Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders said, “Despte the reduced number of players we still played a solid game of football.
“The hardcore of the Spartsn team really showed their mettle today – just a shame that doesn’t always translate into points.”
The Spartans next travel to play the undefeated Colchester Gladiators on August 11th, before ending their 2013 season with a home game against Bedfordshire Blue Raiders on August 18th.