Thistle beat Leith in battle to avoid drop

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Lothian Thistle 3

Leith Athletic 1

Lothian Thistle Hutcheson Vale safeguarded their place in the East of Scotland Premier Division with victory over Leith Athletic on Saturday, consigning the visitors to the drop in the process.

The hosts were ahead in the 17th minute. The ball was played over to Lloyd Dignan on the left wing and his cross from the touchline snuck under the feet of two Leith defenders before finding Joe Murray, who fired home from eight yards.

Lothian doubled their lead five minutes later. A Connan McDiarmid free kick from the halfway line bounced over Leith’s back line and looked to be heading out of play but Omar Ali headed in at the far post.

At 2-0 down Leith, knowing a draw would be enough to keep their Premier Division status intact, would have been right back in the game with a goal. It made a decision by the officials to rule a Jack Combe effort offside just three minutes before the break all the more significant. The Leith striker was adamant that he was behind the ball when it was passed to hi, but despite vehement protests, the visitors remained two goals behind.

Lothian struck again ten minutes after the restart through Craig Stevenson, whose inswinging corner ducked straight into the far corner of the net.

Leith pulled a goal back immediately after Jamie Hawkins handled a Lewis Tracey cross in the box and Combe converted the resulting penalty.

But despite having more than half an hour to continue the comeback, Leith rarely looked like eating further into the home side’s lead..

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale: Swain, McDiarmid, Stevenson, Kane, Wilkes, Hawkins, Dignan, Robinson (Davidson 78), Murray (Anderson 69), Ali (Connolly 86), Lee. Subs: Lynes, Crawford.

Leith Athletic: Gordon, C Barrie, Thom (Cairns 56), Tainsh, MacAuley, Lynch, Stevens, Black (S Barrie 56), Combe, Tulloch, Tracey. Subs: Manson, Smith, Lawson.