The two Capital clubs closest to toppling Stirling University from the summit of the East of Scotland Central Taxis Premier Division each had hat-trick heroes to thank for closing the gap to just two points.
Craigroyston and Tynecastle trailed Stirling by eight points just ten days ago, but successive defeats for the students, the latest in a 6-1 humbling by Craigie, has allowed the Edinburgh clubs to make up ground in the title race.
Steven McCormack scored a treble for Craigie at St Mark’s Park, while Tynecastle’s Ousman See scored his second hat-trick in as many games in a 4-1 win at Coldstream.
Managerless Craigie made light work of Stirling, with a Mark Hendrie penalty and a John Dunn brace completing a comprehensive home win that sees the north Edinburgh team remain second. Alex Wilson had grabbed a goal for Stirling to make it 3-1 shortly after the half-time break, but a rampant home side added three more goals to coast to victory.
Tynecastle remain level on points with Craigroyston after on-form striker See scored three to increase his recent tally to 11 in his last five matches. Dean Cummings also netted against Coldstream, and Tynie boss Dougie Dalgleish was left to reflect on a satisfying team performance. “We played really well and we have to be pleased with the progress that the team are making,” said Dalgleish. “We played some quality football, which was acknowledged by the opposition. The only downside was that we picked up a couple of nasty looking injuries that will require to be assessed by the physio pretty quickly.”
Conan McDermott and Sean Wringe scored to ensure that Kevin Twaddle’s first match as manager of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale ended in victory over Civil Service Strollers.
Twaddle said: “The boys were a joy to watch in the first half and we should have won by more than 2-0 after letting a couple of really good chances slip. “Saying that, I should give a special mention to their goalkeeper, Paul Tansey. He was brilliant and if it hadn’t been for him, it would have been a much bigger score.”
Lewis Tracey scored twice as Leith Athletic followed their triumph in the Alex Jack Cup final with a 3-1 win at Edinburgh University. Uni took the lead through a Gary Black own goal, but Robbie Mason equalised for Leith prior to half-time and Tracey bagged a late double to seal an away win.
Leith boss Derek Riddel said: “Again, we played really well and deserved the win. Despite going a goal behind, we didn’t panic and we stuck to our ethos of how we want to play. We scored a great goal just before half-time to go in all-square, then played well in the second half.”
In another Edinburgh derby, Heriot-Watt University and Spartans played out a 0-0 draw at Riccarton, with Watt boss Chris Smith conceding the stalemate represented a fair result. He said: “It was a pretty fair result in a very even game. There were only a couple of clear chances at either end.”