Sun shines on Leith as Athletic wrap up treble
Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel hailed a perfect season for his treble winning team after they claimed the King Cup with a 4-2 extra-time victory over Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.
Sean Murphy and Lewis Martin strikes either side of a Sean Wringe leveller had Leith 2-1 up before James Guy’s late equaliser. Robbie Mason scored from the spot in extra-time and James Hainey added a fourth.
“It’s fantastic,” said Riddel. “At the start of the season the league was our main aim but we wanted to win every cup available to us. We were disappointed to lose to Spartans in the League Cup final but we deserved that. We came back well to beat Stirling and go on and win the league and today just summed up a perfect season for us.”
Lothian were first to register an effort on target when Wringe’s cross picked out Dean Cummings, but his header was directed straight at Leith goalkeeper Iain Gordon.
Leith should have gone ahead with just more than ten minutes played. Scott Wilson hit the bye-line and delivered to the near post, although John Ferguson could only prod the ball wide from close range.
Riddell’s men did edge in front on the half hour when Murphy skipped past a couple of challenges before driving in to the area and finishing low beyond Swain.
Kerr Allan almost immediately netted Leith’s second in spectacular fashion, only for Swain to acrobatically tip his dipping effort over the bar.
Leith still looked the most likely to score again after the break. Allan again took the chance to shoot from the edge of the area, but dragged his effort wide.
Lothian did get themselves level just after the hour. Wringe charged down Gordon’s attempted kick-out, and the former Whitehill man hooked the bouncing ball back over the keeper and in, despite last ditch attempts to clear off the line.
Kevin Brown then had a good chance for a second for Lothian, but Gordon did well to parry at his near post before Cummings saw a low shot cleared off the line following a corner.
Despite those chances, Leith went back in front with just under 15 minutes remaining. Lewis Martin beat the offside trap before rounding Swain and he managed to drive the ball in from a narrow angle.
Scott Taylor-MacKenzie thought he had levelled from a free-kick soon after, but was denied by a fine stop from Gordon, who threw himself to his left to palm away.
A second equaliser wasn’t long in coming, however, when Wringe jumped with Gordon, and Guy slammed the loose ball home from close range amidst protests from Leith that Gordon had been fouled.
They almost won it in the last minute, Brown the width of the crossbar away from a winner.
Athletic were ahead for a third time six minutes in to extra-time when Mason fired home from the spot. Gordon ensured they remained ahead with an excellent reaction save from Wringe.
They then sealed it with five minutes to go in extra-time when Hainey tapped home at the back post.
As Sunshine on Leith blared from the victorious dressing-room, Riddel looked forward to taking part in next season’s William Hill Scottish Cup, won by near neighbours Hibs nine days ago.
“It’s been a great couple of weeks for Leith as a whole,” he said. “We’re in to the Scottish Cup next season which is unbelievably good for everyone concerned in the community as well. We’ll enjoy this and look forward to next season after a few weeks off.”
Leith Athletic: Gordon, Black, Fee, Melvin, Simpson, Murphy, Martin, Allan (Hainey 75), Ferguson (Tracey 89), Kneeshaw (Mason 66), Wilson.
Lothian Thistle HV: Swain, Moore (Joint 90), Mungall, Crawford, (Guy 80), Wilkes, Fox, Brown, Cummings, Wringe, Taylor-Mackenzie, O’Donnell (Gormley 110).