East End boss Lee Youngson has dedicated their first trophy win in five years to the man who inspired him to go into football management.
End beat Longside 3-2 on penalties in the final of AM Property Maintenance Morrison Cup at the Meadows Sports Complex in Ellon.
That was also the last trophy they won in 2012, when the late Alan Keith was boss and Youngson was one of his squad.
Youngson eventually took over at New Advocates Park and says he owes a lot to Keith, who died in 2015 after a long illness at the age of just 54.
“I could think of no one better to dedicate the trophy win to than Alan,” said Youngson, who at 23 is the youngest boss at Junior level.
“He was well liked by everyone at Junior level and all the other grades of football he coached in.
“I couldn’t play in the 2012 final because of the ankle injury that eventually forced me to stop playing altogether. It was Alan who encouraged me to go into coaching instead of walking away from the game.
“I’m glad that he did.”
End looked set to win the final through a Callum Dunbar goal until Longside cashed in on some slack defending to equalise in the dying seconds.
The match went on to a dramatic penalty shoot-out, which the Aberdeen side won thanks to keeper Rhys Leiper saving Longside’s first and fourth spot-kicks.
Richie Petrie, Calvin Kennedy and Paul Rennie scored for East End from the penalty spot.
Youngson said: “The save Rhys made to win the cup for us was really top drawer.
“We are all really pleased for him because Rhys is still only 20, which is very young for a keeper at this level.
“Playing such a key role in our win is a reward for his efforts throughout the season.”
Youngson is also pleased to win the cup to reward the committee for taking a gamble on making him their boss 20 months ago.
He had enjoyed outstanding success in the Juvenile ranks with Lewis United but eyebrows were raised when End, who were struggling at the foot of their league, chose Youngson to be manager.
“A lot of people were saying I was far too young to take charge of a Junior side and command the respect of players at this level,” he said.
“It made me more determined to make a success of it.
“We have now won a trophy and were unfortunate to miss out on promotion as well.
“I reckon that shows East End were right to take a risk with me.
“Hopefully this will be the first of many honours we win.
“The average age of our squad is only 21 so there is still more to come from them, my ambition is to take the club back up into the Superleague.”
End still have the chance to claim another two honours this term.
They play Banks o’ Dee in the Dominos Pizza North Region Cup semis at New Advocates Park tomorrow night, 7.30pm.
End also face Montrose Roselea away on Saturday in the Archibald Cup semi-finals.
Dee won the Superleague this season and Roselea sealed promotion to the top flight by beating Buckie Rovers 5-0 in a play-off at Inverurie at the weekend.
Youngson said: “We know we face two very tough games but winning a trophy already means the pressure is off and we can go and give it our best shot.”