Edinburgh Caledonian clinched the LEAFA Sunday Morning Division Two Trophy with a 3-1 victory over fellow title rivals Vittoria Group at Peffermill.
Andrew Moffat’s side had beaten Vittoria the previous weekend 4-1 in the League Cup Group B, but this was the crunch fixture for both sides as Vittoria looked to cap off a fantastic debut season in the division they had lead for the majority of, whilst Caledonian knew that with two games in hand, they had to win to deny Vittoria the title.
The first real opportunity of the game came for Caledonian when Dirk Otway headed narrowly over from a Nick Byrne cross.
Ilyan Mirchev has enjoyed an excellent goalscoring tally this season with more than 20 goals and he almost added to that on ten minutes with a shot that went narrowly wide.
Byrne’s pace on the left wing was causing the Vittoria rearguard problems and an interesting battle developed between him and left back Mario Simeonou.
Chris Jones’ mis-hit his shot from a Byrne cross, before Paddy McColgan’s rasping effort was tipped over by Vittoria keeper Roman Alli.
However, it was Caledonian who took a deserved lead on 15 minutes as they punished Vittoria from another set-piece. Nigel Hanson played in the corner which was headed goalwards by Rory Brown and captain Stuart Thomson was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
Two minutes later, Caledonian were celebrating again when Alex Cameron scored his first goal for the club in eight years with a low drive.
Vittoria needed salvation and they pulled themselves back into the game on 27 minutes when Mirchev powered in a header from Charles Burke’s in-swinging cross.
Manygdas Grigutis then saw his shot spilled by Caley keeper Steven Parker, while Jones fluffed another shot from a Byrne cross in a carbon copy of his previous miss.
Caledonian’s delivery from corner kicks continued to cause the Vittoria defence problems into the second half. Mickey McConnell flashed an effort across the face of the goal from a long upfield ball by Thomson as Caledonian looked for a decisive third.
On 76 minutes, Byrne capped off an excellent performance for Caledonian as the winning goal arrived. He jinked his way down the left wing again and after turning his marker inside out, he bulleted his shot into the far corner past the outstretched arm of Alli.
Mirchev and Karol Kasprowicz both had chances for Vittoria in the closing minutes, but the final whistle signalled jubilant scenes as the Caledonian players and coaches embraced each other on the pitch.
“We’ve worked hard all season and were always quietly confident that we could catch Vittoria, who are an excellent side” said Byrne.
“We had a lot of cup games to play and it looked as if we were playing catch up on Vittoria, but the players always believed in each other and I think we got a bit of confidence from beating them last week.”
Vittoria player James Clark paid tribute to Caledonian but also reflected on a very positive season for his side. “We’ve had a great year all things considered, securing promotion in our first year as a club. All the players can hold their heads high for next season.”
Vittoria Group: Roman Alli, Mario Simeonou, Marc Hunter, Antonio Bainoue, Jack O’Donnell, Charles Burke, Manygdas Grigutis, Jarek Butryn, Ewan Whittle, Gordon Allan, Ilyan Mirchev, Armando Crolla, Karol Kacprowicz, Saif Qadir, Velicko Yankov.
Edinburgh Caledonian: Steven Parker, Jonny Taylor, Alex Cameron, Rory Brown, Stuart Thomson, Paddy McColgan, Nick Byrne, Nigel Hanson, Chris Jones, Mickey McConnell, Dirk Otway, Ali Stewart, Richy Meechan, Terry Pearson, Gavin Bell, Iain Crombie.