Whitehill’s hopes of taking the King Cup for the first time since 1998 were dashed when Gerrard scored the winner with 12 minutes left.
Whitehill were without first team regulars John Hall, Conan McDiarmid, Danny Noon and Wayne Sproule.
And boss Mike Lawson also left captain Mike Bruce on the bench following the news that he was leaving the club in the summer.
So a threadbare Whitehill lined up in Prestonpans hoping to land their third trophy of the season.
Playing down the slope at Preston Athletic’s Pennypitt Park, Whitehill had the better of the first half but were denied by Edinburgh University’s keeper Mark Tait, who did well to keep out a flick from Somerville in 18 minutes.
Six minutes before half time, Tait again came to the rescue with a magnificent double stop when he denied McIntosh them Manson.
The best effort from the students was a Nikolaidis shot early on, which crept past.
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