For Edinburgh’s amateur football sides, the race for silverware is already on as eight teams from the Capital kicked off this year’s pre-season tournament, the LEAFA Champions Cup.
The tournament organisers invited the winners of all seven leagues, as well as the previous year’s Champions Cup winners to compete. Having won the trophy last season, Sandys began the defence of their title with a hard-fought victory over Craigroyston CYFC away at Craigie Park.
Last season’s Premier 1 runners-up didn’t get off to an ideal start, however, conceding two goals in the opening 20 minutes. After battling back to 3-3, Craigroyston looked in pole position to progress when they went 5-3 up in extra time.
However, Sandys showed character late on with goals from Jamie Moore, Tam Crease and James Reilly, as well as an own goal from the hosts to make it 7-5 on the day to the defending champions.
After a whirlwind first season as a club last year which saw them reach the dizzy heights of the Scottish Cup final, Craigshill Thistle looked as impressive as ever as they negotiated a tricky away trip to Linlithgow Thistle at Kettil’stoun Mains with a 4-2 scoreline. The visitors strolled into a 3-0 lead with half an hour on the clock thanks to an Alec Lurinsky hat-trick.
After the break Lithgae looked to make inroads back into the game, but after Billy Bauros made it 1-3, Craigshill restored their three goal cushion thanks to David Swan. Bauros then pulled another back for the home side, but it wasn’t enough as the West Lothian side held on to progress.
Elsewhere, last season’s Edinburgh East league winners Clermiston Star romped to an impressive 9-2 victory over North Berwick at Recreation Park to put themselves into the last four.
After a fairly even first half on paper, which saw Clerrie matching the goalscoring exploits of their opponents with goals from Lee Heinemier and Cammy Mitchell, the boys in purple dominated in the second 45.
The goals soon began to flow with David Lewis, Zane Nicolson and Captain Scott Mackintosh putting the result beyond any doubt at 5-2. Then, Ryan Stevens got on the scoresheet and Nicolson grabbed another before debutants Clark Currie and Ross Lewis rounded off the scoring.
Premier 1 champions Newcraighall Leith Vics fought hard against Shotts Victoria in the final first-round tie, but eventually lost out 3-2 at Calderhead High School.
With five minutes to go, the Edinburgh outfit led thanks to goals from Stuart McLaughlin and an own goal, cancelling out Richie Barr’s opener. But in the dying minutes Shotts equalised with a penalty from Kris Russell Then, in extra time, Shotts edged out their opponents when Russell struck again to make it 3-2.