Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel says striker James Hainey will continue to prosper in front of goal after the youngster earned the East of Scotland champions a place in this afternoon’s William Hill Scottish Cup first-round draw.
Hainey sealed the Capital side’s progression against Coldstream at Ainslie Park ten minutes before the interval with the only goal of the game turning in Kyle Fee’s deflected cross from six yards.
In truth, it was far from a classic between the divisional rivals with neither goalkeeper rarely tested barring the odd tip over the crossbar. But Riddel, who revealed he has urged his striker to make more of a presence in and around the penalty box, was delighted to see his pep talks had finally paid off.
“James came up to us from our under-20s and scored 20-odd goals by Christmas last year before falling away,” Riddel explained. “He chipped in again towards the end of last season but I’m trying to encourage him to be in and around the box more because he seems to want to score goals from outside the box all of the time. He’ll get these tap-ins because with the kind of chances we create, he will get goals like that.”
On the tie itself, he said: “It was always going to be a tough game. Coldstream are a stuffy side. It’s a great facility Ainslie Park but these pitches need to be wet to play on. I thought we started the game dreadfully and then came into it. We scored at the right time but when there’s only one goal in it, you always find all the other team needs is a set-piece, a break of the ball or someone to get sent off and they’re right back in it.
“I don’t remember Ian (Gordon) making any saves really so we didn’t look like conceding. But 1-0 is always a precarious lead to hold on to.
“We’re looking forward to today’s draw. We’re in this because of our achievements last season so the guys are getting their rewards. Lothian Thistle had a great run last year so we want to try and achieve the same thing. Can we get a draw like East Kilbride got last year against Celtic? It’s not just the football side of it, that would support our club for a number of years.”
John Ferguson’s bending effort from 20 yards almost caught out Mark Walters in the visitors’ goal early on as the ball clipped the outside of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.
Des Sutherland spun away from his marker there after but his snapshot was parried by Gordon, with no one in blue to follow up the loose ball.
However, it was Hainey who eventually made his mark just seconds after the Coldstream physio had got into an altercation with one of the striker’s team-mates, capitalising on Fee’s angled cross as the ball fell kindly into the path of the Leith man.
Sutherland’s powerful drive on the stroke of half-time required Gordon’s intervention as Leith deservedly went in ahead at the break.
Sutherland, however, thought he’d hauled his side level on the hour mark as his clever turn and shot from ten yards was inches away from finding the net.
Ferguson couldn’t quite get enough contact on his header following a Fee cross as Leith continued to press for a second, Daniel McKinlay also going close as Walters denied the winger from point-blank range.
However, the Leith rearguard stood the test of a last-gasp effort from their opponents to safely see themselves through to the next round.
Leith Athletic: Gordon, Black, Simpson (Kneeshaw 70), Lowson, Glynn, Beaton (Mason 51), McKinlay, Allan, Hainey (Melvin 70), Ferguson, Fee. Subs: Fairnie, Burns, Tracey, MacPherson.
Coldstream: Walters, Wales, Logan, Inglis, Hossack, Hebdon, Robinson, Beasley, Sutherland, Steele (Gray 75), Brown (Johnston 85). Subs: Nisbet, Bowline.