Leith Athletic chasing hat-trick in Alex Jack Cup

Neil Lowson scored for Leith

Neil Lowson scored for Leith

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Alex jack Cup holders Leith Athletic will defend their trophy against First Division Peebles Rovers in next month’s final at Innerleithen after a 3-2 victory over a battling Heriot-Watt side at Meadowbank.

Derek Riddel’s side, looking to win the trophy for the third consecutive season, took a lead into the interval through goals from Lewis Martin and Neil Lowson.

Heriot-Watt manager Chris Smith was left to rue defensive lapses which led to the two goals but Neil Laurenson brought them back into the tie with nine minutes left after a close-range effort.

However, straight from kick-off, Athletic won possession in the middle of the park and a fantastic solo run from Keith Murray resulted in him hitting the bar before Euan Campbell forced home the rebound to put the tie beyond Watt’s reach.

Scott Dargo netted a late consolation for the students, who fielded new goalkeeper Craig Penicuik from Lowland League side Preston Athletic.

Riddel was relieved to see his Premier League leaders progress to next month’s final, and the continuation of their ten-match unbeaten run.

“It was a hard game as we knew it would be,” he said. “Getting the two goals gave us a good advantage, but then we sat off a little in the second half and allowed Heriot-Watt back into the game.

“We’re delighted to be in a cup final and we’ll be doing all we can to retain the trophy against a Peebles side who we played in a pre-season game and won 2-1. They are going really well at the moment in the First Division so that is one to look forward to.”

Smith was left to reflect on what might have been for Heriot-Watt and admitted that the loss of the two first-half goals was the killer blow.

He said: “We’ve just not dealt with the two set-pieces properly which led to Leith’s first two goals. We gave away a needless free kick for the first goal and then we’ve got to do better with the corner kick which led to their second. We didn’t clear our lines and it’s frustrating because in effort and application, we gave everything on the day.”

Peebles claimed a surprise 3-1 win at Fernieside in the other semi-final, inflicting Tynecastle’s first reverse in six matches.

Two goals from Scott Sutherland and a second-half effort from Paul Murray gave John O’Hara’s side a gutsy victory over Stephen McKenzie’s Premier Division outfit whose goal came from the in-form Jamie Devlin.

Peebles have now defeated two Premier sides en route to the final, with Easthouses Lily their previous scalp.

“It was a tight game but in a semi-final, one team has to lose and on this occasion it was us,” said McKenzie.

“Perhaps over the piece of the 90 minutes, Peebles created slightly more opportunities than we did so good luck to them in the final but we’ll regroup for Easthouses in the league next Saturday.”

The final takes place at Victoria Park, Innerleithen on Sunday, November 2, kick-off time still to be confirmed.

Image Printers Cup

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale returned to winning ways in the Image Printers Cup second round with a 4-1 victory over Easthouses Lily at Newbattle Complex.

Kevin Twaddle’s men were looking to put an end to a run of three straight defeats, but they had to come from behind after Kenny McMillan put Lily ahead early in the first half.

Scott Gormley equalised on the stroke of half-time with a penalty and second-half goals from Gormley and two from Willis Hare gave Hutchie the victory to progress to round three of the competition.

The visitors were missing their on-loan Falkirk goalkeeper Gregor Amos as he had injured a ligament in his hand last Friday, so defender Fraser Ogilvie was handed the gloves, and he pulled off a couple of impressive stops in his unfamiliar role.

Premier Division

Craigroyston were sent crashing back down to earth following their first win over Stirling University, as they lost 3-1 to Coldstream.

The St Mark’s Park outfit were 2-0 down at the interval as goals from Jonathan Simpson and John Crawford gave the Borders outfit a commanding lead.

Simpson was ordered off for the visitors moments after opening the scoring and a second-half own goal on 53 minutes gave Craigroyston a mountain to climb.

Michael Somerville did pull one back a minute later but Coldstream saw the game out to record their first league win, which keeps Craigroyston second bottom of the Premier Division with four points.