Edinburgh City 17s outfought a battling Leith Athletic side 4-3 to lift the Victor Paris Bathrooms Showrooms Cup in an entertaining spectacle at Ainslie Park.
With the game all square at 3-3 and seemingly destined for extra time, City’s Mark Osborne popped up in the final minute to fire a blistering strike from fully 30 yards to seal victory.
Edinburgh City coach Stuart McGraw paid tribute to both sides for putting on a thrilling cup final.
He said: “It was end-to-end stuff and a fantastic advert for this level of football. Both teams were excellent, with some cracking goals. But I’m thrilled to get the win after losing a cup final the previous week.”
It was indeed Leith’s Darren Gallagher who had the first effort on goal, driving through the Edinburgh City defence and firing a shot which goalkeeper Craig Moffat had to be alert to and palm away.
City’s Daniel Brigain then showed great power and agility with a lung-bursting run to the edge of the Leith penalty box before trying his luck with a low strike which Reece Smail had to turn round the post.
City then took the lead after 15 minutes. A deep cross by Jaxon Wishart found the head of Ntando Ntshangase and he cleverly directed the ball back across goal and into the corner of the net.
Shortly after, a thunderous free-kick on the edge of the Leith penalty box by Osborne almost put City two up, but his strike brought out a good reaction stop from Smail.
Both sides created chances in what was becoming an end-to-end match. However, it was Leith who were back in contention with the equaliser on the 40-minute mark.
City’s inability to clear their lines produced the opportunity for Omar Merzouki, and the No.14 took full advantage, firing high out of Moffat’s reach and into the top corner.
However, right on the stroke of half-time, City regained the lead. The move started with Ntshangase’s clever pass out to Tinashie Rowana and he beat one defender before delivering a pinpoint cross for Ntshangase, who had continued his run, to head in from close range. Leith levelled the tie at 2-2 ten minutes into the second-half. A good ball down the left-hand side by Jack Brien found Gallagher, and he floated a ball to the back post, were Ryan Agate turned the ball in with ease.
Leith took the lead for the first time in the match five minutes later. Ross Davies cleverly picked out Merzouki and he once again showed composure, similar to his first strike, and finished beyond Moffat.
Osborne claimed his first of the match to equalise with 15 minutes remaining, driving low into the corner from just inside the area as Leith couldn’t hold their lead.
Osborne then played in substitute Ewan Castle, who had made a clever run beyond the Leith rearguard, and his powerful strike came back off the post as City looked the stronger side at this late stage.
The winner duly arrived in the final minute and what a strike it was. Leith appeared to have cleared the danger when a corner was dealt with, but Osborne had other ideas as he fancied his chances from distance and produced a stunning strike which Smail couldn’t stop as it powered its way into the net to win the game 4-3.
Leith Athletic’s Stevie McNally was disappointed to concede so late on and felt fatigue played a key role in his side’s defeat.
“I think poor defending has cost us. A lot of tired legs began to show and we only had two substitutes to use. I just feel we lost our momentum and sold it to them where maybe a little bit of inexperience came into play as well.” McNally added.
Edinburgh City: Craig Moffat, Greg Powrie, Kieran McGraw, Ruairidh Waddell, Rory McIver, Mark Osborne, Lewis Turkington, Ntando Ntshangase, Jaxon Wishart, Tinashie Rowana, Daniel Brigain, Lewis Cockburn, Stuart Donaldson, Fraser Johnston, Ewan Castle, Jae Baxter.
Leith Athletic: Reece Smail, Ryan Agate, Jack Brien, Sean Davidson, Darren Gallagher, Callum Mein, Ross Davies, Sean Melvin, Ross Dray, Omar Merzouki, Llyndon Learnard, Ryan Ward, Sean Paterson, Conway Hunter, Kieran Davidson, Jordan Forbes.