John McDonald struck a decisive goal for the second week running as Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale took a giant stride towards qualification for the Central Taxis League Cup knock-out stages with a 1-0 win at rivals Tynecastle.
Kevin Twaddle’s Lothian team are now six points clear of Tynie in Section A of the qualifying leagues having played a game more than the Maroons. Following their victory at the weekend, Lothian are now favourites to claim the only automatic qualification spot, with Tynie almost certain to seal one of the two play-off places available.
The result was decided by a flowing move forward by Lothian in the second half, which culminated in Scott Moffat playing in McDonald, who finished coolly to hand the visitors three points.
Boss Twaddle, whose side have won all six games since he replaced Grant Carnie as manager at Saughton Enclosure, told the Evening News: “It was a very tough game for both teams because of the weather. It didn’t make for a great spectacle. The wind was unreal.”
In Section B, Ormiston suffered a setback in their bid to reach the play-offs as they lost to Hawick Royal Albert at home. Ormi, who scored through Craig Fisher and an own goal, were bettered by an Albert side that countered through Michael Smith, Kevin Strathdee and Declan Hogg.
The East Lothian side’s manager Murray Cheyne reflected miserably on a defeat that leaves his team with a difficult task to reach third place.
“It was a poor performance from us,” said Cheyne. “We didn’t really create any chances and had no real impact in the last third.
“Once again, we lost a goal a couple of minutes after equalising when we were caught on the break.”
Craigroyston were knocked off the top of Section C by virtue of goal difference as they lost 2-1 at home to Burntisland Shipyard. Paul Lynch struck for Craigie, but previously-pointless Shipyard took victory thanks to goals by Stuart Blake and Dale Robertson.
Hibs EOS are now tied on ten points with Craigie but with a superior goal difference after a 1-1 draw with Heriot-Watt University at Riccarton. Cameron Dunn scored for Watt, while Lewis Allan was on target for the young Hibees.
Watt boss Chris Smith, whose team can qualify automatically or via the play-offs only if their rivals suffer defeat, said: “I thought we performed very well in very testing conditions. We have shown real consistency in our performances over the last four or five weeks.
“Hopefully, we can continue that next week against Craigroyston in our final league game of the year.”
Spartans EOS are almost ensured a top-three place in Section D after a 2-0 win over fellow qualification hopefuls Coldstream, with Lee Zavaroni and David Stewart scoring for the hosts at Ainslie Park.