Coldstream go 12 points clear

Captain John Crawford put Coldstream in front with a header
Captain John Crawford put Coldstream in front with a header

Coldstream 2, Leith Athletic 0

Coldstream stretched their lead at the top of the First Division to 12 points and sent out a message to the chasing pack by ending Leith Athletic’s 100 per cent record.

John Crawford and Gary Wales were on target for the leaders against a team who have now only played four league games but had been widely regarded as title contenders.

The visitors finished the match with nine men after two substitutes were sent off 15 minutes from time. Defeat also meant they finished the match 23 points behind the leaders in fifth place.

The Edinburgh side have eight games in hand, but the Streamers will be difficult to catch. They are now the only unbeaten team in the First Division and already have the points in the bag.

There was some doubt about the game going ahead due to a soggy section in the middle of the pitch, but after the referee declared it playable both teams served up a thoroughly entertaining display of attacking football in front of a crowd of 150.

With Sean and Jonny Simpson added to his injury list, Coldstream manager Andrew Gibson gave youngster Greg McCrudden a rare start in the centre of midfield and shifted midfielders Michael Allan and Martyn Tait into the full-back positions.

In an entertaining first half, there were chances at both ends, but it was Coldstream who created the best of them.

Leith threatened from corners, but were up against a goalkeeper, Mark Walters, in top form.

With Josh Hebdon pulling the strings and getting the better of Leith’s midfield, Coldstream were always a threat going forward.

It was Hebdon who started the move that led to the opening goal, his pass releasing Wales down the right. A pinpoint cross found Crawford, who headed home.

Stuart Coyle missed a golden chance from close range to extend the lead. McCrudden had one too.

Lee Lambert’s threaded pass put the youngster in one-on-one with Iain Gordon, but the Leith goalkeeper pulled off a fine save.

There were chances for Leith in the second half. Striker Greig Tulloch was denied twice by the superb Walters in quick succession. The second stop gave Craig Hume a chance to lob the keeper from the rebound, but Allan got back to head off the line.

It was gripping, end-to-end stuff and a goal looked like it was coming. Crawford nearly scored it from six yards after he controlled a low Wales cross, but Gordon made another good save.

Having escaped, Leith piled forward in search of an equaliser. But 15 minutes from time they shot themselves in the foot.

When referee Michael Banks awarded a free-kick for a foul by Allan right on the edge of the box, the Leith players were furious. They claimed the offence had been committed inside the area.

The protests went too far for Banks, who showed substitute Lachlan Thom a red card just a few minutes after he had come on. Fellow substitute Stephen Barrie followed his teammate for an early shower seconds later.

The nine men had another chance when a defensive error let Tulloch through on goal, but Walters denied the Leith striker yet again.

Coldstream then made the two-man advantage count. Lambert hit the bar from close range before Kris O’Neil surged down the left wing and squared for Wales to fire home from ten yards. The goal sealed what could prove to be an invaluable three points.

Coldstream: M Walters, M Allan, M Tait, J McLeod, L Cannon, G McCrudden, J Hebdon, G Wales, S Coyle (K O’Neil 77), L Lambert, J Crawford. Subs not used: M Cornish, J Ainslie, K Ainslie, M Saddler.