East of Scotland League: Leith boss welcomes competition

Leith Athletic manager Derek Riddel
Leith Athletic manager Derek Riddel
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Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel insists the more teams involved in this season’s East of Scotland League title battle the better.

The reigning champions moved to within a point of current leaders Heriot-Watt University with a 2-1 victory over the students at Meadowbank 3G on Saturday, goals from Rhys Craigie and Scott Wilson cancelling out Watt captain Chris Donnelly’s opener.

Leith finished nine points clear of runners-up Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale last season and 17 points better off than third-placed Civil Service Strollers, who have since moved up to the Lowland League.

However, there are just six points separating the league’s top five clubs this term.

“Every year we want the league to be as competitive as possible,” Riddel admitted. “It was a big blow at the start of the season losing Civil and Hawick to the Lowland League and Duns, who folded. There are now good opportunities for players who work hard to make a difference which will also make the league a lot more exciting. I think it would be unfair to say it’s just going to be us and Lothian this season because I think a few of the other teams have really upped their game. I expect it to be a lot tighter. We just want to win all our own games, which we nearly managed to do last year, and that gets you a lot of points on the board for starters. But you only have to look at how the likes of Heriot-Watt and Eyemouth at how they’ve started this year. Heriot-Watt have been flying and have had some really good results. We knew it was going to be a tough game on Saturday and it was difficult going one down. But we got two quick goals on the half-hour that got us the win so it’s a massive result for us.”

Elsewhere, goals from Dean Crabbe, Pieyam Khosrowpour and Stephen Manson gave Tynecastle a 3-0 victory over Stirling University at Gannochy Sports Centre. The sides had drawn 2-2 at Saughton Enclosure the previous weekend.

Lothian Thistle were held to a surprising 1-1 draw by struggling Tweedmouth Rangers while Ormiston were beaten 2-1 at Peebles Rovers.