Glasgow Accies....17 Edinburgh Accies...11

THIS was a landmark victory. Not only did Glasgow Accies extinguish their Edinburgh counterparts' unbeaten record, they also gave the kiss of life to the division two promotion race and their own hopes in particular.

With Edinburgh Accies having opened up a four-point gap it had been a case of ``who was going to be second,'' but now the title and the prospects of playing among the big boys next season is a distinct possibility, thanks to what Glasgow coach Kevin Greene aptly described as ``the gutsiest performance of the season.''

No-one would quarrel with that considering the New Anniesland club had given the league leaders an 11-point start and then brought down the defensive shutters with telling effect, although they had to wait until injury time for Calum MacGregor to assume the mantle of match-winner.

But this was no one-man show. Every Glasgow man tackled as though his life depended on it with more big hits than Top of the Pops. While the forwards were in rampant mood it was the efforts of Andrew Strawbridge and Danny Ablett which did much to stifle Edinburgh's dangerous midfield.

The visitors' cause in this department was not helped by injuries to Ian Leighton and his replacement Craig Murray, although the real damage was being done up front where the Edinburgh forwards, despite the efforts of Jeremy Richardson and Rob Hoole, struggled and were constantly operating on the back foot.

Not even the influence of Scotland prop Barry Stewart could prevent Glasgow taking three strikes against the head and one wonders if the 21-year-old is not suffering from an overdose of rugby, having spent the summer on Scotland's tour of New Zealand before competing in the Students' World Cup in South Africa and then plunging into the hectic domestic and European scene.

It was not only in the tight that Edinburgh had to give best. Their lineouts were out of sync and they had trouble containing the ground gobbling mauls with Gordon MacKay often in the van.

Edinburgh coach Bob Easson acknowledged his side had been ``cleaned out'' up front, but also pinpointed the number of costly turnovers.

``When you get into the opposition twenty-two, don't score and, even worse, lose possession then you struggle. We had chances to go 18 points up but let them slip. If we had taken those, who knows what would have happened?''

His Glasgow counterpart admitted they had concentrated on defensive chores, identifying this as the area where such a crucial match was to be won or lost.

``It was a tremendous forward performance,'' said Greene, ``and has to be the best of the season.'' He also took advantage of the new ruling on tactical substitutions, taking Paul Sturgeon off for the final quarter and bringing on Danny Porte. ``When fatigue sets in a pair of fresh legs is invaluable.''

It certainly worked on this occasion, for no sooner had Porte joined the action than Glasgow Accies were driving the visitors back 20 metres and embarking on the first steps towards victory.

Such an outcome had seemed unlikely when the Edinburgh team stormed to an 11-point lead within as many minutes with Mike

Duncan slotting two penalties and Graham Kiddie charging down a MacGregor clearance and touching down for an unconverted try.

But a copybook pick-up by MacKay saw the big No.8 catch the opposition back row napping and he stormed 25 metres for a try which kept his side in touch at the interval although they also had to thank their fortress defence for holding out Phil Simpson and Chris Simmers.

With the wind behind them, Glasgow camped in the opposition half and a 45-metre penalty by MacGregor narrowed the gap but stout defensive work, compounded by mishandling, denied them further success until the veteran stand-off took centre stage for the MacGregor late show.

Another penalty levelled matters and in the first minute of injury time he dropped a 40-metre match-winning goal, adding his third penalty for insurance three minutes later.

Given this was a top-of-the-table clash and both sides avowed exponents of open rugby, it is to the players' credit they could turn in such exciting fare amid a lack of atmosphere with a mere 87 souls gracing New Anniesland at kick-off although that had trebled by the time victory had been secured.

SCORERS: Glasgow Academicals - MacKay 1t; MacGregor 1dg, 3p. Edinburgh Academicals - Kiddie 1t; Duncan 2p.

Glasgow Academicals: Mason; Metcalfe, Ablett, Strawbridge, Mathewson; MacGregor, Simmers; Perrie, Sturgeon, Doran, Afuakwah, Begley, Richmond, MacKay, Brown. Replacement: Boundy for Metcalfe (30min). Substitution: Porte for Sturgeon (71).

Edinburgh Academicals: Burns; Bull, Simmers, Leighton, Kiddie; Duncan, Simpson; Geldenhuys, Day, Stewart, McVie, Richardson, Osborne, Waite, Hoole. Replacements: Murray for Leighton (33), Easson for Murray (70), Wilson for Day (77).

Referee: K Harrower (Forrester FP).