Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Raymond Carr hailed his players as they retained their Central Taxis Premier Division crown with a 4-0 victory over Leith Athletic at Meadowbank 3G.
Only a victory for Lothian would have ensured title success, while a draw or a win for Derek Riddel’s side would have given Easthouses Lily the title in their first season back in the top division.
But Lothian built up a commanding 3-0 half-time lead. Two goals from Willis Hare – who was ordered off for making a gesture in the second period – and first-half strikes from Scott Moffat and Sean Wringe ensured the visitors won the title by 11 clear goals.
Manager Carr was delighted to see his team get over the line.
He said: “Over the last few weeks, we have put together a very impressive run of results and that’s kept us in contention, Easthouses deserve credit for the results they’ve had this season and Leith also play some fantastic fooball.
“From a football point of view, Saturday wasn’t a great showing – we were perhaps feeling the effects of the cup matches against Whitehill Welfare and Gretna.
“But we scored some very good goals. Scott Moffat’s goal was extremely well taken having had his back to goal and then turning the defender to finish.
“Leith rested a few bodies ahead of the Image Printers Final next week. We had to play our strongest side because of what was at stake but, although I’m a little hoarse from all the shouting, it was worth it in the end.”
Carr also paid tribute to his predecessor Kevin Twaddle whom he succeeded as manager in February as well as current assistants Fraser Ogilvie and Mike McGuire.
“Kevin came along on Saturday and was delighted for all the players.
“He worked very closely with them so he knows the relief and emotions they’re all feeling.”
Carr has no doubts his side can go from strength to strength and retain the bulk of the first-team squad for next season.
“We want to keep building and we have the talent coming through from the under-19 squads and below, because that we’re all about in terms of development.
“We have a few guys who are still considering their next move and we’ll never stand in the way of any player who wants to progress further, although it has to be the right move for them and the club. The next step up is the Lowland League and that’s what you have to aspire to.”
The two sides will meet again next Sunday in the Image Printers Cup Final at 2.00pm with the venue to be decided this week.
Leith missed out on the runners-up spot but will have the chance to add a third piece of silverware next Sunday having already won the Alex Jack Cup and League Cup.
Easthouses Lily manager Dave McQueenie was disappointed to see his team lose out on goal difference, but he can reflect upon a very successful season for the Midlothian side.
“To lose out on goal difference on the last day is disappointing especially when we knew we’d done all we could, but congratulations to Lothian and Raymond Carr because they were unbeaten in their last five games and that can be the difference sometimes.”
In Saturday’s other fixture, Civil Service Strollers ended their league campaign with a 2-1 victory over Tynecastle at Fernieside.
Goals from Chris Tobin and Craig Newalls did the business for Strollers – who can now look forward to Saturday’s South Region Challenge Cup Final with BSC Glasgow – as Tynecastle played their final EOS game at Fernieside before their move to Saughton Enclosure next season.