Amateurs: Cairns at double as Tollcross see off leaders Sandys

Tollcross Thistle have moved within three points of Sandys with a game in hand over the league leaders
Tollcross Thistle have moved within three points of Sandys with a game in hand over the league leaders
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Tollcross Thistle moved to within three points of league leaders Sandys in the LEAFA Premier Division with a 2-1 win over their title rivals at Castleview.

Both sets of players deserved tremendous credit for braving the initial driving rain and a heavy pitch to put in a fully committed performance with chances aplenty for both sides.

The visitors started brightly when Stefan Hay latched on to goalkeeper John Nisbet’s long ball upfield, but Sandys stand-in keeper Chris Barclay rushed off his line to thwart him.

Steven Philip went close for the hosts with a deflected shot that was held by Nisbet, before Jason Bell struck the bar for Tollcross.

But the deadlock was broken on 13 minutes when winger Chris Cairns curled the ball into the top corner from 25 yards.

Sandys went in search of the equaliser, Liam McCardle going close with a close-range effort palmed away by Nisbet on 23 minutes, who almost scored a spectacular goal straight from a bye-kick as the ball clipped the bar on its way over.

The home side’s decision making in the final third was letting them down slightly, and they were to rue those missed opportunities when Cairns scored with another curling effort on 39 minutes. Tollcross were in a commanding position but they had to clear their lines following a goal-mouth melee on 55 minutes, before goal hero Cairns had to be replaced due to a groin strain.

Barclay made a superb double save to deny Tollcross a third, but Sandys did pull one back on 78 minutes when James Reilly netted at the back post from a Paul Mercer cross.

Sandys applied plenty pressure in the final ten minutes in search of an equaliser but Tollcross held on for an important win, and they still have a game in hand over Sandys who suffered only their first defeat in 13 league matches.

“This game was not a league decider for me, we had to close the gap to three points with a game in hand which we’ve done,” said Tollcross manager Alan McKay. “Both teams will win and lose games between now and the end of the season and may the best team win.”

• Edinburgh Rose stay in league race

Edinburgh Rose remain in the Premier Division title mix after a 2-1 win over Musselburgh Amateurs, Liam Frost netting a double from close range as Rose stay third with 24 points.

In the Championship, leaders St Bernard’s suffered a surprise defeat at Hermiston Vale as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat, although they remain seven points clear of Lochend, who crashed to a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Craigshill Thistle in the East of Scotland Cup quarter-final.

Salvesen FC were 5-0 winners over Civil Service Strollers Amateurs in the Logan Cup Third Round helped by a David Ross double with further goals coming from Jaimie Butler, James Davidson and Dean Cunningham.

Meanwhile, the LEAFA select team were defeated 1-0 by a Central Scotland Amateur Select side at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium in the final of the Inter League Cup on Sunday.

A single goal midway through the second half from Bradley Rodden was enough to give Central Scotland the trophy despite a spirited effort from their Lothian and Edinburgh counterparts.