Edinburgh University made it two Lowland League scalps in the space of just four days after they emerged 1-0 winners over Whitehill Welfare in the final of the King Cup at the Pennypit.
The students, who will enter the Lowland League set-up come August, overcame Edinburgh City last Wednesday in the semi-final by the same scoreline – and given they went through the competition without conceding a single goal, the Peffermill club were rightly crowned champions.
Manager Dorian Ogunro had been a tad coy in his pre-match build-up, saying he wouldn’t be overly concerned about the result at the final whistle, but his celebrations after Dan Gerrard’s 78th minute winner suggested otherwise.
“I played that card prior to the match and I don’t mind in saying that,” Ogunro said in the aftermath. “I’m delighted with the guys as they’ve not lost a goal in the whole tournament. I think we were clearly the better team and I don’t think it was a surprise us winning. We’ve earned it.
“Mark [Tait] made some great saves. Whitehill put some pressure on us, but I don’t think they sustained it. I think on overall play and chances, we deserved it.
“We will lose some guys and we’ll bring some in for next year, but we’ve put a great platform down for going up.”
It was a fitting end to Uni goalkeeper Mark Tait’s six-year spell with the club as the 23-year-old is expected to graduate this summer with a degree in medicine.
Tait said: “In six years for the university, winning this cup is my greatest achievement. We’ve been to a lot of finals and played some fantastic games of football, really important matches, but to win this is the pinnacle.”
The opening 45 minutes was a rather stuffy affair, with both sides unable to create much in front of goal.
Aaron Somerville was first to try his luck for Whitehill, but he couldn’t keep his shot down from 16 yards.
The Uni’s George Nikolaidis’ flick at the near post wasn’t too far away from Whitehill No.1 Bryan Young’s top right-hand corner, before Somerville tested Tait with an effort from ten yards.
Steven Manson then struck the post for the Rosewell club after Tait had denied Stuart McLaughlin, before the Uni applied some pressure late on in the first hakf, with both Nikolaidis and Jack Guthrie looking threatening in the final third.
The opening phase of the second half carried much more enterprise, with the two sets of players determined to gain the upper hand.
Somerville was again first to threaten as his diving header brought out a fine stop from Tait after good wing-play from Manson and Andy Martin.
Star striker Wayne McIntosh then found space to advance on Tait’s goal, but his touch let him down and the Uni No.1 was able to stop the frontman in his tracks.
Ward then should have given the Uni the advantage when he jinked his way through the Whitehill defence, but he found himself caught in two minds as he neither got his shot away on goal or found supporting team-mate Joe Aitken with his pass.
But Ward atoned for his earlier hesitation and his deep cross to the back post with just 12 minutes remaining found Gerrard, the ex-Spartans player bulleting his header beyond Young from six yards to seal cup glory.
Whitehill manager Mickey Lawson was fairly honest in his assessment and felt the better team prevailed.
He said: “Sometimes in football it’s just not meant to be. It wasn’t a good day for us as we can play a lot better. In spells we were alright, but over the piece we didn’t play nearly well enough.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Martin, Thom, Dodds, W Kidd, McGlashan, Manson, A Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville (Bruce 74), McLaughlin (Quinn 82). Subs: Sproule, Cantley.
Edinburgh University: Tait, MacFarlane, Murray, Flett, Black, Daniels, Ward, Gerrard, Guthrie (Coleman 87), Nikolaidis, Aitken (Habata 74). Subs: Hodgson, Maelger, Murray.