Liberton THISTLE completed a remarkable season by defeating Dilligaf FC 3-1 in the final of the LEAFA Presidents Cup to land their third trophy of the season.
The game was put to bed as a contest from as early at the 20th minute when Sean Paul Ritchie netted a third goal, adding to an earlier double strike from forward Jason Hood.
Liberton Thistle coach Mike Coleman was thrilled to have added the final piece to the jigsaw after winning both the Sunday Premier Division 2 championship and Colin Campbell Sports Cup.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” Coleman said. “The boys have been superb from start to finish and to be unbeaten in the league and win two cups has just topped it off.” Anyone turning up late to the showpiece event of the LEAFA Sunday section would have missed the opening goal as it arrived after just 36 seconds. A cross into the Dilligaf box found an unmarked Hood and he headed beyond goalkeeper Kevin Lawrence to hand his side the initiative early on.
Liberton continued to press their opponents with Dilligaf struggling to gain possession and grabbed a second ten minutes later. Jason Darling’s free-kick from inside his own half found the advanced Hood at the edge of the Dilligaf penalty area and he turned perfectly to deliver a great strike into the corner of the net.
Things then went from bad to worse for the West Lothian side who conceded a third goal within 20 minutes. Another perfectly weighted pass over the Dilligaf defence from Darling picked out Ritchie, and he delivered a finish reminiscent of Hood’s second strike finding the back of the net with a powerful drive.
It could have been four shortly after when Lawrence came out his goal to meet the ball ahead of Liberton’s Craig Anderson. The goalkeeper, however, miscued his kick and with the goal gaping for the Liberton player, the ball seemed destined to find the net until defender Scott Lyon intervened and managed to clear.
The bar was then rattled from Anderson’s close-range header before Dilligaf created a good chance themselves when Steven Fraser had to palm away Jamie Docherty’s powerful effort shortly before the interval.
Liberton continued to open up the Dilligaf defence early in the second half with both Hood and Chris Flockhart going close before Dilligaf gave some hope to the respectable support who had gathered at the side.
Matthew Knott picked up a loose ball at the edge of the Liberton penalty area and found space to fire a shot on goal which nestled into the corner to make it 3-1.
Dilligaf’s Sean Flannigan then went down in the penalty box from a challenge but any appeals for a spot-kick were waved away.
Liberton should have made the scoreline more handsome when John Gallagher was put through on goal but the No. 11 failed to convert with Lawrence standing strong and turning the ball round the post.
Dilligaf’s Robbie Law was beginning to assert his authority and was pushing forward at every opportunity, encouraging his team-mates to give it one final push. Docherty almost added his second as Dilligaf pressed but his chipped effort was taken comfortably by Fraser.
Dilligaf coach Colin Flannigan was pleased with how his side have performed over the course of the season but was quick to praise Liberton for coming out the traps at such a fast pace.
Flannigan said: “We only had about six guys who had played 11-a-side before the season started so we’ve done really well this year. Well done to Liberton as they’re a really good side but we didn’t show up in the first 30 minutes. After that we dug in and maybe could have scored a few more but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Liberton Thistle: Steven Fraser, Jon Flockhart, Phil Alexander, Euan Scott, Jack Chaney, Dale Restorick, Jason Darling, Jason Hood, Dale Richardson, John Gallagher, Dean Coyle, Craig Anderson, Sean Paul Ritchie, Chris Flockhart, Stevie Aitken.
Dilligaf FC: Kevin Lawrence, Scott Lyon, Kyle McLaughlan, Robert Nisbet, David Watson, Robbie Law, Sean Flannigan, Matthew Knott, Jamie Docherty, Daniel Flannigan, Calum Vallantyne, Brian Durkin, Barry Graham, Fraser Stewart, Kenneth McKenzie, Ryan Flannigan.