Lewis Allan struck in the final minute to preserve Hibs’ unbeaten record since the club entered a youthful team into the East of Scotland league for the current season.
The goal capped a 3-3 draw between Hibs’ youngsters and Leith Athletic at East Mains, with the sides gaining a point each towards their target of qualification from Section C of the Qualifying League.
Leith boss Derek Riddel expressed pride at his side’s display but admitted regret at failing to win.
Riddel said: “Both teams did well to play on an excellent surface and there were some good goals scored. We are disappointed to drop two points so late on especially with Hibs down to ten men. We played well in long spells but we were too content to sit on the 3-2 lead rather than push for a fourth.”
Hibs coach James McDonaugh fielded two 15-year-old players in his line-up, and seven youngsters aged 16 also featured for the Hibees. In a youthful side even by his club’s East of Scotland standard, there was not one player in green over the age of 18. Dominic Docherty, Kevin Waugh, and Allan were on target for the hosts, while Robbie Mason, Lewis Cairns, and Jamie Lauder responded for Leith.
Elsewhere in Section C, Heriot-Watt defeated Burntisland Shipyard to rise to third place and within three points of the summit.Chris Smith’s men were 1-0 up at half time courtesy of an own goal, and strikes by Hugo Lopez and Fergal Doherty extended Watt’s lead after the break.
Shipyard notched a consolation goal with a minute remaining. Watt manager Smith said: “I thought we controlled the game, bar a 20-minute spell in the second half where they had six corners. It was a great result considering we were missing eight players.”
Section C now looks set to provide a thrilling finale, with each team set to play one more match – with the exception of group leaders Craigroyston, who have two games to contest. Just four points separate Craigie from fourth-placed Leith, with Hibs and Watt also in contention to qualify.
Civil Service Strollers registered their first Qualifying League points with a 2-0 win at Kelso United thanks to goals by Michael Dick and Liam Jack. But, the three-point haul came too late for Strollers, who have just one match to play and cannot qualify from Section A. Civil boss Andy Raeburn said: “We played quite well with a good, battling display and took our chances for a change.”
Lothian Thistle extended their lead at the top of Section A with a 5-0 win over Eyemouth. Jamie Butler’s double was complemented by strikes from John Williams, Callum Connolly, and Craig Stevenson.
Ormiston weathered a stirring comeback by hosts Duns at Berwickshire High School, where Ormi raced into a 2-0 half-time lead courtesy of goals by Brian McEwan and Connor Ramage. However, the visitors found themselves 3-2 down as The Dingers struck back through a Kieran Lee strike and a Michael Robinson double. But, Ormi were to have the final say as Ramage netted his second and a Craig Fisher penalty made it 4-3. “The match was a great example of why you need to play until the final whistle,” said Ormi boss Murray Cheyne.
In the other Section B fixture, Hawick Royal Albert held group leaders Stirling University to a 1-1 draw.
In the only Section D match, Easthouses Lily recovered from going 3-1 down to Spartans to draw 3-3 in Midlothian. Keith Boyes gave Spartans the lead only for John Hunter to equalise for Lily, but goals by Matthew Cunningham and David Stewart put the visitors 3-1 ahead. However, Easthouses battled back, with Mark Brown halving the deficit before Ally Elliot salvaged a point with a strike six minutes from full time.
Lily manager Dave McQueenie said: “There were some good goals scored, and a draw was a fair result.”