Leith lift League Cup after dominant first half

The Leith players celebrate their cup win. Pic: Neil Hanna
The Leith players celebrate their cup win. Pic: Neil Hanna
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LEITH ATHLETIC secured their second trophy of the East of Scotland season with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Spartans EOS in the final of The Central Taxis League Cup at St Mark’s Park.

In a match watched by around 150 spectators at the home of Craigroyston, it was the proverbial game of two halves with Leith rewarded for their first half display with the two goals that mattered.

Spartans EOS could consider themselves unfortunate after a spirited second half display with Athletic keeper Ian Gordon called into action on a few occasions, though the league leaders always remained dangerous on the break.

The Leith front three of Keith Murray, John Ferguson and Lewis Tracey caused problems for the Spartans rearguard in the first half, and they took the lead on 26 minutes when captain Gary Black cut the ball back for Ferguson to fire low into the bottom corner past Blair Carswell.

The big talking point of the first half was the award of a contentious penalty to Leith on the stroke of half-time.

Robbie Laird was adjudged to have clipped the heels of Murray inside the area following a long ball by left-back Jamie Lauder.

Spartans protestations fell on deaf ears with the referee pointing to the spot and although contact appeared to be minimal, Grant Burns did not hesitate with a well taken spot-kick to increase Athletic’s lead at the break.

Leith had a golden opportunity at the start of the second period to put the game beyond Spartans’ reach with Ferguson looping a shot just past the post.

The best of the chances in the final 25 minutes fell to Alex Cunningham’s side with Davey Stewart dancing past a few attempted Leith challenges only to see his shot hit the side-netting.

There were jubilant scenes from the Leith camp as they collected the trophy at the end, to add to the Alex Jack Cup won in November with the Meadowbank side still in contention for the Premier Title, King Cup and Image Printers Cup.

Cunningham felt the game hinged on the award of the penalty.

“I thought the penalty was extremely soft and having spoken to a few other people at the side, they’ve said the same thing.

“But the second half performance was a lot better and we can be proud of our efforts.”

Leith Athletic: Gordon, Black, Lauder, Melvin, Lowson, Burns, Baigan (Beaton), Mason (Allan), Murray, Ferguson (Campbell), Tracey. Unused subs; Leslie, Murphy.

Spartans EOS: Carswell, Raiker, Ballantyne, Laird (Howat), Milven, Rusin, Stewart, Clapperton, Crane (Hogg), Cunningham, Boggie. Unused subs; Young, Dishington, Brown.

• The Evening News asked Leith Athletic for their views on the game but the club declined to comment.