Amateur football: Salvesen AFC prevail in thrilling final

The Salvesen AFC players celebrate at the Tony Macaroni Arena after their win over Tollcross. Pic: TSPL
The Salvesen AFC players celebrate at the Tony Macaroni Arena after their win over Tollcross. Pic: TSPL
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Salvesen AFC took the glory in the RJM East of Scotland Cup Final after recovering from the loss of two first-half goals to defeat Tollcross Thistle 4-3 in extra-time in a thrilling final at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The Lothian West League Champions have enjoyed a fantastic season as they look to finish their league campaign unbeaten with just three fixtures left, and have also reached the semi-finals of both The Centenary Cup and The Logan Cup.

Tollcross have also enjoyed a solid campaign despite watching their Premier League title aspirations disappear after a midweek loss to Danderhall Miners.

Salvesen started the brighter of the two sides in front of a healthy 300 crowd at the home of The Scottish League One Champions.

Dean Cunningham struck the post following a neat one two with David Ross after just forty seconds.

Michael Yuill was a constant danger to the Tollcross rearguard all night and found himself one on one with Thistle keeper John Nisbet but Scott Millar stepped in to clear.

From the resultant corner, Tollcross broke away and Stefan Hay opened the scoring after half an hour after Millar played the ball across.

The goal seemed to spark Thistle to life and they doubled their lead right on half time through Stewart O’Neil.

O’Neil had a great opportunity to make it three just after half time with a shot saved by the feet of Salvesen stopper David Livie.

But on 74 minutes, they found themselves back in the game as Matthew Duncan beat Nisbet to a Craig Dickson cross and his header rolled over the line.

Salvesen were now pressing for the equaliser, urged on by their support, and in the last kick of the ninety minutes they got it after a sustained period of pressure.

Yuill finished at the back post after David Ross had laid the ball off for James Davidson to cross, minutes after Yuill had a low drive held by Nisbet.

The game headed into extra time and it was Salvesen who were in dreamland on 95 minutes. Yuill was the scourge of Tollcross again as he cut inside his marker before playing the ball to Davidson who finished with aplomb.

In the second period Hay hit the bar for Thistle, but it was Yuill who completed the comeback soon after with another exquisite drive into the far corner.

Jason Bell replied for Tollcross minutes later as Alan McKay’s side refused to die, and Livie in the Salvesen goal was perhaps lucky to remain on the field after appearing to handle outside the area.

But the final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation on the Salvesen bench and manager Ryan Harding was delighted after the celebrations had ended.

“This was the cup we wanted and its just as big as winning the league to be honest,” he said. “To win it the way we did tonight was fantastic. We had periods in the game when we were dominant and I always felt one goal for us would give us a chance.”

In the other Saturday fixtures, Clermiston Star defeated Craigshill 3-2 in the Centenary Cup Second Round, whilst Portobello Thistle beat Haddington Athletic 2-1 to reach the Robertson Cup Final.

Premier Champions Sandys won 4-1 against Musselburgh Amateurs in the Stead and Simpson Cup, Salters defeating Armadale Rose by the same scoreline in the same competition.