It took penalty kicks to decide the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup tie between Conference A rivals Leith Athletic and Haddington Athletic at a chilly Peffermill last Saturday. A travelling support of around 80 – the biggest since Brechin – saw Leith attract, what was probably, their biggest crowd of the season. Manager Scott Bonar was without Szemis, Simpson, Hill, Laidlaw and Neilson, for various reasons but still fielded a strong side. The home side gained an early foothold with a free kick in a promising position but nothing came of it and the visitors edged a keenly contested first half on chances. Only the linesman’s flag prevented a Seamus Russell header from counting and both Watson and Jones missed from close range. There was little difference in the pattern of play after the break with Haddington’s shooting a bit wayward but Russell and Watson saw netbound headers saved. There was a moment of controversy towards the end when the referee ignored a blatant foul on McGarry and when Watson was penalised for halting the Leith breakaway, he received a second yellow card leaving his teammates a man short. With no goals in 90 minutes the match moved into extra time with Haddington a man down. Both sides had chances but the Hi Hi’s coped well and the cup tie moved into a penalty decider. Much to the delight of the travelling support, Haddington goalkeeper, Robbie Stirling, removed any Hi Hi’s nerves by saving the first two spot kicks that he faced. With King, Harris, and Auriemma all converting theirs it was left to Seamus Russell to put the Hi Hi’s through to face Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts in the last sixteen. Haddington and Leith still have to meet each other in two crucial league games with the next meeting at Millfield on Saturday 12th February.

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