A LAST-MINUTE penalty salvaged a point for Edinburgh Rose on the opening day of the LEAFA Premier Division 1 Saturday section at Peffermill.
Opponents Sandys, who have topped the Premier League in the last two seasons, looked to have begun their defence of the title with a crucial three points away from home after taking the lead with only ten minutes remaining. However, Rose secured an equaliser in the final minute of normal time.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in the first half, though Sandys striker Robert McKenzie should have given his side the lead just before half-time, but his effort across goal went wide of the post. Then Jon Laidlaw’s shot for Rose from point-blank range was saved by Sandys goalkeeper David Courtney.
With ten minutes remaining though, Sean Lothian’s free kick to the back post found centre-back Andrew Daily in a crowded box and he bundled home from close range to give Sandys the lead.
Edinburgh Rose were determined to get themselves level and Paul Dunlop, their attacking left-back, epitomised the determination of his side when he rampaged down the wing as the match headed towards an end.
His attempted cross into the box was deemed to have been handled deliberately by Sandys defender Tony Marziban and the referee pointed to the spot. With Sandys supporters and coaching staff still furious about the decision, Murray Milne punished the away side as he put his spot-kick straight down the middle past Courtney.
Sandys still could have stolen all three points in added on time, but Lothian’s 25-yard free kick just went over the bar.
NEWLY-PROMOTED Cramond FC began life in Premier 2 on Saturday with a home defeat in a nine goal thriller against Penicuik United, losing out 6-3.
Both teams fielded under-strength sides, with suspensions from last season carried over keeping several players out of the season opener.
Cramond, who had gone unbeaten in pre-season with six wins and two draws, including a 2-1 win over Premier 1 side Heriot Vale, fielded a makeshift defence and they found it tough in the first half.
Penicuik racked up a 4-0 lead at half-time after two goals by Chris Walker and a goal each by Richard Todd and Scott Finlayson.
Todd grabbed his second of the afternoon after the interval, but Cramond, who had tested the gloves of stand-in Penicuik goalkeeper Jimmy Ritchie in the first half, weren’t going to lie down to their opponents.
The home side fought back into the match with goals by Michael McDermid (trialist), Paul Crawford and James Anthony, and had the chance to reduce Penicuik’s lead to just one goal but Richie saved Peter Newby’s penalty kick.
Penicuik made sure of the three points when Ally McGuiness grabbed their sixth goal of the afternoon.
SALTERS ATHLETIC ran riot against fellow Sunday side The Green Tree, putting seven goals past their opponents on the opening weekend of the LEAFA season in Premier Division 2.
Salters were promoted into the second tier of the Sunday set-up this season after winning the Division 1 title by 14 points from second-placed Gilmerton and they look like a side to watch out for in Premier 2 this season.
Midfielder Paul Nelson gave the home side the lead, firing low into the far corner of the net after an excellent through ball by Euan Miller. Striker Miller then grabbed their second of the afternoon before Paul Milligan cut in from the left and found the back of the net from 20 yards out to put Salters 3-0 ahead at half-time.
Salters replicated their first-half dominance in the second period and further goals by Milligan, Miller and two by Drew Calladine secured all three points for the Bonnyrigg side.
Paul Milligan, player-manager of Salters, was delighted with the performance of his side.
“We continually tried to pass the ball and our movement off the ball was excellent. We looked like we could score every time we went forward and held a great shape across the middle of the park,” he said.