Tollcross Thistle boss Alan McKay has backed goalkeeper Youssef Bejaoui for a Scotland Amateur call-up after the former Penicuik Athletic stopper helped them to retain the Logan Cup.
Bejaoui saved three Sandys spot-kicks in a penalty shoot-out to prevent the Castle View-based side from winning their fifth trophy of a memorable campaign.
Sandys were aiming to replicate something not seen since season 1979/80 when the now-defunct Telman Star won the Premier League, the East of Scotland Cup, the Hamilton Cup, the Blaikie Cup and the Miller Cup. Sandys had won the Premier League, Blaikie Cup, Challenge Cup and Centenary Cup prior to Friday.
They were denied by Tollcross, however, with Bejaoui stealing the limelight in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in normal time at Ainslie Park.
“I can see why Bruce McNaught [Scotland amateur boss] wants him as Scotland No.1,” said McKay. “He is a massive presence in goal. He made a couple of saves at key times for us and is hugely important in how we want to play.
“When it came to penalties we knew he would deal with them because in training he saves them all the time. “I’m delighted to add our second trophy for the season. This gives us a good platform to build on for next season.”
Tollcross had been happy to sit back and soak up pressure, with their aim to catch their opponents on the break with the pace of their front four – Scott Millar, Michael Hornig, Calvin Muttitt and Chris Cairns – causing problems for Sandys.
And they grabbed the opener on the hour mark as Hornig capitalised on a mistake to rifle into the top corner from 30 yards.
Sandys came roaring back, though, flooding men forward in search of an equaliser and their constant pressure finally paid off in the 93rd minute as Kevin Stewart netted after being played in by team-mate Connor Spowart.
Bejaoui would prove to be the hero in the penalty shoot-out, making three incredible saves with team-mates Millar, Stewart O’Neill and Ciaran Duffy all netting to give Tollcross a 3-1 success.
Sandys coach Phil Alexander has warned that his side will be eager to improve on this season, saying: “If, at the start of the season you told me that we would win three cups and the Premier League, I would of bitten your arm off, but it’s all credit to the boys who have worked their socks off – they have been unbelievable. Next season we are going to be even stronger.”