Salters Athletic held off ten-man Lothian United to win 3-2 in the Presidents Cup final in what was an action-packed 90 minutes at Ainslie Park.
Salters matched United in the opening half and crucially took the lead through Drew Calladine on the stroke of half-time. Athletic added another against the run of play in the second half through substitute Mark McAskill, but minutes later United got their rewards for persistence as Sean Ritchie found the net for 1-2. Then, as things got tougher for United with the dismissal of keeper Christopher Robertson, Athletic made it 3-1 through Calladine once more.
Into the final ten minutes and United pushed their opponents all the way, pulling a goal back for 2-3 thanks to Dale Miller, but Athletic saw out injury time with some stubborn defensive work, to take home the cup.
Salters player-manager Paul Milligan said: “I’m absolutely delighted, especially for the players who on the day worked so hard for each other. We had to ride our luck at times but we expected that as Lothian United are an excellent side. We have under performed this season and hopefully the team takes confidence from the result. This group of players has won seven cups and three leagues in five years so they deserve every success they get.”
Athletic came closest in the opening ten minutes as Paul Milligan won the ball at the centre circle before racing through on goal, only to see his shot from a tight angle saved well by Robertson.
United crosses from out wide by Brad Hainey and Kyle Hay saw efforts from Bob McKenzie and Tam Crease fly just wide.
Athletic’s Marc Finney played a clever pass between the two United centre-halves, allowing Stephen Brown in behind but, with Robertson to beat, he put the ball wide.
It took a moment of quality to break the deadlock. From 25 yards Calladine struck a right-footed free kick around the wall and into the bottom right corner of the goal for 1-0.
Both sides looked to keep up their attacking efforts after the break, but it was Athletic who showed the clinical finishing required. Substitute Nick Byrne made an instant impact as he crossed from the left for McAskill to stab in at the back post.
United then finally grabbed a deserved goal for their efforts with 15 minutes remaining. Substitute Sean Ritchie showed composure one-on-one with Athletic goalie John Paget to roll the ball into the goal.
The game was in the balance, but suddenly United keeper Robertson gave away an unnecessary penalty, and saw red in the process, allowing Calladine to bury the spot kick past stand-in goalie Brad Hainey, making it 3-1 to Athletic.
Into a tense final five minutes, substitute Miller pulled a goal back for United with a fantastic finish at the left-hand post, but there was no time left for United to level as the referee blew the full time whistle just 60 seconds later to hand Athletic the trophy.
Salters Athletic: John Paget, Lewis MacAndrew, Keith Macfarlane, Kevin Cornwall, Stephen Brown, Drew Calladine, Euan Miller, Paul Milligan, Paul Nelson, Brian Baillie, Mark McAskill, Nick Byrne, Calum Roberts, Marc Finney, Kris Murdoch, Jonathan Taylor
Lothian United: Christopher Robertson, Jamie Begbie, Euan Bisset, Martin Cairney, Tam Crease, Ryan Dolan, Ean Gilhooley, Brad Hainey, Kyle Hay, Bob McKenzie, David Meenan, Dale Miller, Sean Ritchie, Euan Scott, Liam Stewart, Raymond Walker