PRESTON Athletic boss Jack Lynch has hailed match-winner Brandon Archibald after a sensational strike from near the halfway line helped keep them in the promotion hunt.

The Panners sit fourth in Conference B of the East of Scotland Football League as they attempt to join Dunbar Athletic, Musselburgh Athletic and Tranent Juniors in the top flight.

Lynch’s men are four points adrift of Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, who occupy the play-off spot, but they kept the pressure on with a 3-2 over Heriot-Watt University on Saturday.

The scores were level in the second half when Archibald produced a moment of magic and scored from the centre circle.

Lynch (pictured) said: “I’m not going to make myself sound like a great player but I saw it was on.

“I said to him after the game he was the only other person to see that. I did see it when he went past a player that he looked up and the goalkeeper was on the penalty spot.

“Anybody else in the team, I would have been wondering what they were trying to do but Brandon has got that ability.

“He was the one player who would hit that and as soon as he did I turned to my assistant and said it was in. The goalkeeper was running back to try to save it but I knew it was fruitless.”

The goalscorer would go on to ensure the Panners took all three points with the winning goal five minutes from time.

Archibald is just one of a number of East Lothian-based players in Lynch’s squad.

The manager estimated that more than a dozen of his squad came from East Lothian and said: “What we try to do is create a good environment for local young talent to come in.

"We give them a pedestal and a place to play.

“Hopefully, some of them go onto bigger and better things.”

The Pennypit side are locked in a five-way battle for second spot behind the impressive Tynecastle, who have won all 18 of their league matches.

Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Glenrothes, Dalkeith Thistle and Edinburgh United will all fancy their chances of taking second spot and playing the second-placed team from Conference A, which could be Haddington Athletic, at the end of the season.

Lynch said: “Our fate is in our own hands.

“This is probably the best squad I have had since I have been here.”

The Panners, like the majority of the teams in the East of Scotland League, take a break this weekend before returning to action next Saturday (December 28) with a local derby against Haddington.

There is also likely to be the rearranged fixture with St Andrews United to be played in the New Year.

That game last weekend was abandoned after an incident just before the hour mark, which saw both teams reduced to 10 men.

Lynch felt it was “premature” to call the game off and was waiting to hear of any repercussions.