Seniors: Leith Athletic boss expects scrap for final places

Leith Athletic came back from a goal down to trounce Eyemouth 6-1 in the Alex Jack Cup semi-final. Picture: Joey Kelly
Leith Athletic came back from a goal down to trounce Eyemouth 6-1 in the Alex Jack Cup semi-final. Picture: Joey Kelly
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Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel expects his players to go the extra yard in the coming weeks now that there is a starting place in next month’s Alex Jack Cup final to play for.

Riddel’s side, current holders of the cup, will defend their title in an all-Edinburgh showdown against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale after the city sides won their semi-final ties at the weekend.

Leith recovered from going a goal down at home to Eyemouth United on Meadowbank’s 3G pitch to win 6-1 thanks partly to Chris Wright’s hat-trick and Euan Campbell’s double. Jonathan Waugh’s opener had handed Eyemouth the lead before Wright and Campbell displayed their goalscoring prowess, and Robbie Mason’s last-minute strike – Leith’s sixth – sealed a handsome home win.

Athletic boss Riddel said: “It’s great to get to the final and we’re really looking forward to it. Lothian are a good team who play football like we do, so we expect a good game.

“We’ve now got a cup final to look forward to in a month’s time and that should really spur the guys on to push themselves over the next few weeks in games and training. We’ve got three cup games before the final, so we’ll rotate things around slightly and we’ll hope to put together a good run of form before we face Lothian.”

Riddel was pleased at his side’s positive reaction to the previous weekend’s home defeat by Coldstream, with the black-and-whites displaying great appetite for attacking play.

“I’m delighted with the reaction to last weekend’s disappointing performance,” said the Leith manager. “Our work-rate and attitude was excellent and we deserved our win. We didn’t panic despite going 1-0 down and we scored some really good goals.

“Dan Simpson was excellent as an emergency centre back and Lewis Tracey played really well out wide.”

Meanwhile, Lothian boss Grant Carnie saw his charges record an impressive win over Stirling University’s Lowland League outfit in extra time.

Goals by John Williams and Callum Connolly for Lothian ensured a 2-2 draw during regulation time, and Craig Stevenson then emerged as the match-winner for the Saughton club.

Carnie said: “We are delighted to get Lothian to a cup final. I thought we played really well against one of the top sides in the Lowland League.”

Meanwhile, a second-half fightback by Ormiston could not prevent visitors Vale of Leithen advancing to the third round of the Image Printers Cup. Ormi pulled a goal back through Scott Wright in the second half after falling two behind by half-time but could not find the equaliser and lost 2-1.

Turning to the East of Scotland league, Craigroyston moved into second place in the Central Taxis Premier Division courtesy of a 3-1 home win over Coldstream. Stewart Adams and John Dunn scored within 60 seconds of each other to put Craigie 2-0 up by the 20-minute mark, but Sean Simpson hit back for Streamers ten minutes after half-time. Dunn’s second goal of the match came ten minutes from full-time and sealed victory for Ross McNeil’s men.

“We played some good stuff and I’m happy with the three points, especially as we had four players from last week’s starting XI missing,” said McNeil. Edinburgh University fell behind Craigie and into third place after defeat to league leaders Stirling University in a bad-tempered match at Peffermill. Two home players were given a red card as a Steven Forbes penalty and a Sheldon Jacobs goal put Stirling en route to victory. Ross Patterson replied for Dorian Ogunro’s men.

A last-minute strike by Hogni Helguson helped Heriot-Watt University to a 3-2 home victory over Civil Service Strollers at Riccarton. Watt twice fell behind in the game as Strollers’ Mikey Dick and Liam Dick found the net, but David Thomson and an own goal drew the students level each time.

Watt boss Chris Smith was pleased with the resilience shown by his side. He said: “The guys showed real belief and character to come from behind twice and then get the winner.”

Meanwhile, Strollers manager Andy Raeburn was left to regret his players missing a host of chances that could have seen them win the match.

“We should have won but didn’t take our chances,” said Raeburn. “Fair play to Heriot-Watt for going right to the end and getting a goal in the last minute, but we can’t miss all these chances and expect to win games.”