Stuart Neave today saluted his old soldiers who helped Inverleith land their second indoor hockey title in four seasons.
Former Olympian Stephen Dick, and Derek Salmond, who represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, slotted home in the closing minutes to clinch a 5-3 success over arch-rivals Grove Menzieshill which also secured a passport to Europe for the Edinburgh side.
Fife-based Neave said: “This is a wonderful win for our club and a reward for the effort the guys have put in.
“We started really well and went 2-0 up but Grove are a good side and we knew they would come back at us.”
They did, levelling at 3-3 with five minutes to go, but that’s when Dick and Salmond took centre stage. Fife-born Dick netted from a penalty corner to complete a treble with three minutes remaining and Salmond waltzed through the Grove Menzieshill defence to end a spectacular solo run two minutes from time.
Neave said: “The old soldiers came through when we needed them.”
Salmond’s goal eased nerves on the Inverleith bench and Neave’s decisio to take a time out with the clock running down proved to be a master stroke.
He admitted: “We were losing our way when they levelled at 3-3 and the guys were tiring.
“We were also sitting back too much and we addressed that.”
Earlier, Dick fired home into the top corner to give Inverleith the lead from a penalty corner after four minutes. And Scottish internationalist Adam Mackenzie made it 2-0 also from a penalty corner three minutes later.
However, Mackenzie was sent to the sin bin as Grove Menzieshill pressed to get a foothold in the game.
And the tussle was played at a frantic pace for the first 15 minutes before it settled down.
The Dundee side, who have dominated Scottish indoor hockey for the last decade, forced two penalty corners just on half-time but Inverleith held out. However, experienced goalkeeper Graham Stuart had to show his class to prevent Grove Menzieshill pulling a goal back early in the second-half. But the Tayside team were back in the game after 28 minutes when Inverleith switched off following a free-hit and Gavin Tomlinson made them pay by deflecting the ball into the net. Dick scored his second, flicking low into the bottom corner, three minutes later to hand Inverleith a 3-1 lead but Chris Wilson netted a second for Grove Menzieshill a minute later also from a penalty corner.
Grove piled on the pressure and Tomlinson bulleted the ball home from a penalty corner to level the scores at 3-3 with five minutes remaining.
Grove Menzieshill came close in the dying minutes but Dick fired home with three minutes left to edge Inverleith ahead again at 4-3.
And Salmond’s solo effort from inside his own half, finishing by sliding the ball into the empty net, secured the league title and a place in Europe.
There was disappointment for the club’s women’s side who lost 2-1 in their bid to clinch promotion to Division One.
Aimee Dudgeon opened the scoring after 17 minutes for Waverley only for Sarah McKay to level nine minutes later.
Dudgeon netted three minutes from time to deny the young Inverleith team.