Jamie Chapman’s 84th-minute strike secured Prison Officers Cup success for Leith Athletic 17s as they edged out a resilient Hutchie Vale 17s 4-3 at Hallhill.
Leith twice pegged back their opponents thanks to Jay McManus and Harry Davis, only to see Arran Currie reply for Hutchie with two strikes of his own.
However, late on in the second half, the boys in black-and-white rallied with a crucial quick-fire double thanks to Callum Sandison and Chapman to put the result out of Hutchie’s reach, despite a late Ryan Fox goal.
In what was a final never short in entertainment at Dunbar, Hutchie got things under way. It was their opponents who settled into the game first, however. Despite the occasion, they soon had Vale chasing the ball as they looked to grab an early breakthrough. Nine minutes in they should have been ahead when Brandon Archibald was put through one-on-one with Byron Gibb. The No.12 hesitated on the ball, however, allowing Gibb to narrow the angle for the shot and the Hutchie back four regrouped.
It was a close-call for Tam Smith’s side, but it seemed to give them the wake-up call they needed. Soon after they started to look more like themselves as they began to cause trouble deep in Leith territory. Lewis Swaney delivered a corner in from the right which Fox flicked onto Cameron Milne at the back post, but he sent his effort over the top from close range.
Another set piece from Swaney almost allowed Hutchie in again, but a double save from Leith’s Aaron King denied first Thomas Prior then Cameron Begbie as the boys in black-and-yellow came mighty close to breaking the deadlock.
King’s reactions soon looked to be even more crucial for his side, as it paved the way for Athletic to take the lead just minutes later. The East Edinburgh outfit soon turned defence into attack, forcing a mistake out of Gibb that allowed McManus to send a lob over the Hutchie goalie from 25 yards for 1-0.
As the first half progressed, Hutchie rallied and they carved out a response with five minutes to go before the break. Currie broke into the area and was taken out by Sam McLaren, with the referee not hesitating in pointing to the spot. The youngster dusted himself off to step up and tuck the resultant spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Rather than settle for a draw at the interval, Leith were keen to restore their lead and after persevering momentarily, they were ahead once again with a penalty of their own. Davis was tripped in the area by Gibb and he stepped up to take responsibility, slotting it away for 2-1 with a minute to play in the first half.
When the game resumed both sides came out firing on all cylinders, but it was Hutchie who made their next moment count. It was Currie again who unlocked the Athletic defence as he picked out the bottom corner 25 yards out with a shot off the outside of his boot.
It seemed neither side were going to find a winning goal in the 90 minutes, but then two quick-fire strikes from Leith put them in pole position for the honours on offer. After Sandison nodded in a corner, Chapman buried an effort into the far corner after drifting in from the left hand side to give his side breathing space.
With minutes to play Fox gave Hutchie hope with a cool finish one-on-one, but it was too little too late for Vale as Leith held on to become worthy winners of the Prison Officers Cup.
Hutchison Vale 17s: Byron Gibb, Cameron Milne, Sam Birch, Stewart Johnston, Cameron Begbie, Thomas Prior, Arran Currie, Jack Cowan, Ryan Fox, Keiran Young, Elliot Taylor, Jordan Mungell, Lewis Swaney, Reyce Kay, Adrian Shala, Tommy Simpson
Leith Athletic 17s: Aaron King, Jamie Chapman, Ross Aitchison, Alexander Simpson, Niall Kane, Harry Davis, Marco McBride, Coll Reekie, Callum Sandison, Jay McManus, Sam Laverty, Brandon Archibald, Sam McLaren, Morgan McIntosh