Charwood AFC climbed to the top of the LEEAFA Sunday Section Division 1 with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Pumpherston Thistle at the Gyle.
After goals from Ross Baird and Stuart Steel put the hosts in the driving seat, Pumpherston pulled one back through David Graham to make it a tense finish. However, Charwood saw out at the game to take all three points.
The win means the West Edinburgh side leapfrog Salvesen, who were in Scottish Cup action over the weekend.
Despite their league rivals having a game in hand, Charwood coach Stuart Paterson remains confident they can make the top spot their own.
“We’ve got six games to go and we’ll be aiming to win as many as we can. We finished second last year and we’d like to go one better,” said Paterson.
“You never know if results go our way, but time will tell. We’ll have to see where we are come the end of the season.”
The hosts soon settled into the game on a bright afternoon at the Gyle, coming close to breaking the deadlock six minutes in. Gary Walker got to the byeline down the left-hand side before delivering a pin-point cross to the back post where Simon Walton was waiting. The No.7 did his best to slide and divert the ball in, but at full stretch it wasn’t enough to make any contact.
After a slow start, Pumpherston woke up and they too came close to finding an opening goal. A long throw into the area from Kenneth Mackenzie found Aden Donaldson, but his header could only find the hands of Scott Walker in the Charwood goal.
The league leaders upped the anti with the first half coming to a close and they would have gone in at the break ahead if not for some good shot-stopping from Steven Paris in the Pumphy goal. In the space of a few minutes, he denied Steel twice, first from a long-range free-kick, then from a laced effort from inside the area.
Charwood kept the pressure on after the interval and with their first effort of the half they took the lead – and in spectacular style. Centre-back Baird latched onto a loose aerial ball to hit a dipping 25-yard volley over the head of Paris and into the net.
Despite Pumphy’s best efforts to fashion a quick response, the home defence stood firm and building on their opening goal, they grabbed a second 65 minutes in. Using his strength, Steel burst into the area, riding one challenge before firing the ball into the bottom corner to cement Charwood’s winning position.
It stirred the visitors, who went on to enjoy their most dangerous spell of the game in the final 20 minutes. Determined to take something from the game, they came forward and looked threatening.
Ross Bradley latched onto a cross from the right before turning and volleying an effort on goal which cannoned off the left-hand post. Fortunately for him, Graham was in the right place at the right time to fire in the rebound and give Pumphy some hope of salvaging a point.
With time ticking away, the visitors battled for an equaliser and came mighty close to finding it. David Smith delivered a cross-field pass into the area where Graham was waiting, but he miscued his shot.
With that, the final whistle was blown and Charwood had ground out what could be a crucial win in the title run-in.
Charwood AFC: Calum Alexander, Chris Crichton, Gary Walker, Graeme Cummings, Ian Bowden, James Steel, Matthew Gilchrist, Paul Colford, Ross Baird, Scott Walker, Simon Walton, Stuart Paterson, Stuart Steel, Scott Thomson.
Pumpherston Thistle: Euan Anderson, Ross Bradley, David Graham, Eddie Grotlin, Darren Kelledy, Kenneth Mackenzie, Ryan McCreight, Stuart Morrice, David Smith, Malcolm Wilson, Murray Milne, Steven Paris, Aden Donaldson, Craig Bishop.