Tuesday 19 July 2016, 19.00, Kings Park

The friendly watching continued with a trip to see East Premier League side Dalkeith Thistle against East Superleague’s Linlithgow Rose.

Dalkeith Thistle were founded in 1892 and currently play in the Premier Division of the Scottish Junior Football Association, East Region.

In a similar way to where Penicuik Athletic are, they are housed in a cordoned off bit of a bigger park in the town.  A new pavilion was erected in 2007, and floodlights were installed at the ground in 2013.

They’ve won several trophies over the years, but the majority have been minor cup competitions.  They won the East Region South Division in 2011/12 and have been in the Premier since then.

They have threatened a few times in recent seasons to make the Superleague, but haven’t quite got there.  They reached the play-off in 2013/14, but were soundly beaten by Kelty Hearts.  Last season they finished in 7th.

Several players have departed over the summer, including captain Michael Linton.  Most have gone to Superleague sides.  It might be hard for Thistle to replace players of such quality.  They have, though, already signed Dean Whitson from Bonnyrigg Rose, making his loan deal permanent.  Goalkeepers James McLean, who has returned to the club from Newtongrange Star and Ross Combe, who is also a former Jag have signed. In defence, they’ve snapped up youngsters Shaun Murray, a right back from Bonnyrigg 21s, James Redpath a left back joins from Leith Athletic 21s, centre half Alan Murray also joins from Leith Athletic and Ryan McQueenie has joined from Danderhall Amateurs.  In midfield, Darren McGlashan joins from Whitehill Welfare and Lewis Turkington from Bonnyrigg 21s.  Also from Bonnyrigg Under 21s are three new forwards, wingers Tyrone McLean and Duncan Muir and striker Scott Waugh.

There are two trialists playing tonight, including, bizarrely, what looks very much like former Bonnyrigg centre half and captain Ross Archibald playing up front.  (I’m sure it was him).

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Linlithgow Rose were formed in 1889 and have won the Scottish Junior Cup four times, most recently in 2013, and are one of the best supported junior clubs in the East Region.  Since 1949, they have played their home games at Prestonfield.

They have regularly featured in the Scottish Cup since rule changes gave them the opportunity to do so, and have reached the fourth round twice.  Last season they made it to the fifth round where they lost gallantly to Premier League Ross County in Dingwall by 4 goals to 2.  The first Junior side to reach the last sixteen.

The Rose are regular trophy winners, although their last success was in season 2012/13, when they won the East Superleague for a third time, going through the entire league season unbeaten.  They also won the League Cup and Fife and Lothians Cup in that season.  The team are managed, since June 2015, by David McGlynn.

Some major surprises at Linlithgow in the close season, with stalwarts Colin Strickland, and brothers Ruari and Roddy MacLennan all signing for local rivals Bo’ness United.  Graeme MacGregor has also departed and Ryan Baptie has returned to his parent club Peterhead.

Coming in has been Musselburgh Athletic central midfielder Jackie Myles, goalkeeper Richard Barnard from East Stirling and midfielder Jack Beaumont from Cowdenbeath.  Playing as a trialist was Ross Gray, most recently of Spartans.

It’s a very warm night in Dalkeith (yes really) so it would be a good workout for the players.  I was struggling just standing watching.  There are around 100 at the game.

The first noticeable thing was how loud Barnard’s voice was in the Linlithgow goal, his strong English accent being heard all around the ground.

With just 7 minutes gone, Linlithgow took the lead.  The ball came to Weir in the box and he quickly fired it high into the net.

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McLean brought the ball forward for Dalkeith in 14 minutes and struck for goal from the edge of the box.  It took a big deflection and went wide of the post with Barnard already committed the other way.

A good run by Gray into the box in 19 minutes saw the Linlithgow winger’s shot blocked back to Myles, but his shot was comfortably saved by McQueen.

In 28 minutes, Myles fed Kelly on the left hand side of the Dalkeith box, but McQueen saved his shot with his feet.

A minute later, Beaumont had a great strike at the Dalkeith goal, which the keeper did well to save.

It was noticeable how much more vocal the away side was.  Although one Dalkeith player was even asking the linesman how long until half time after half an hour, such was the heat.

Batchelor crossed into the box in 37 minutes and found the head of Kelly, but the Rose striker’s looping header was off target.

A Thistle free kick in 39 minutes was well struck by Tansey from 25 yards and Barnard punched it clear.

It only took 4 minutes of the second half for the home side to get back on level terms.  McLean found Tansey whose inswinging cross from the right was backheaded into the net by McNeil.

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Linlithgow were keen to get back in front and Gray set up Batchelor on the edge of the box in 55 minutes, but McQueen saved with his knees.

Kelly had a go from distance in 56 minutes, and he struck it very well, but it was just wide of the Dalkeith goal.

Linlithgow were almost caught out by a quick throw in 62 minutes when Redpath threw down the right for McLean.  His cross was just out of reach of the number 9 in the middle.

A great cross by Batchelor in 63 minutes was met with a looping header by Coyne.  The ball came back off the bar and Kelly was quickest to react and hammered into the net to put Linlithgow back in front.

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Dalkeith had a good chance to equalise again in 68 minutes, but McLean was off balance and hit his shot into the ground and it bounced wide.

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In 82 minutes, Coyne got the ball on the left for Linlithgow and played it back for Beaumont whose inswinging cross was glanced in by Kelly to make it 3-1.

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Two minutes later, it was four.  Kelbie’s ball into the box was poked at by the defence and Kelly put it into the corner for his hat trick.

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Tansey rifled a free kick at the Rose goal in 86 minutes, but Barnard managed to keep it out.

With a minute left, Dalkeith’s Redpath got onto the ball about 22 yards out and chipped the ball up for himself and volleyed it past Barnard for the goal of the night.

Dalkeith almost got another in injury time when McLean found himself clean through, but Barnard managed to save.

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Lots of effort from both sides and particularly commendable given the temperature.

Beaumont and Myles were impressive for Linlithgow and are good additions for Rose.  Myles was always impressive when he played for Musselburgh.  Trialist Gray showed some nice touches.  Hammill was good at left back.

McLean showed a lot of pace for Dalkeith and McNeil looked solid at the back.  Tansey looks like he will be an important player for Thistle this season with his power and strength.

Full Time: Dalkeith Thistle 2 Linlithgow Rose 4

Admission: £2

Dalkeith Thistle: 1 James McQueen, 2 Shaun Murray, 3 John Robertson (Waugh 45), 5 Alan Murray, 4 Callam McNeil, 6 Lewis Turkington (McGlashan 57), 7 Tyrone McLean, 8 Michael Hunter (Cairns 45), 9 Trialist (Muir 64), 10 Trialist (Redpath 57), 11 Paul Tansey. Subs: 12 Scott Waugh, 14 James Redpath, 15 Darren McGlashan, 16 Cairns, 17 Duncan Muir, 13 Ross Combe.

Linlithgow Rose: 1 Richard Barnard, 2 Blair Batchelor, 3 Joe Hammill, 4 Bradley Donaldson,5 Reece Donaldson, 6 Jack Beaumont, 7 Ross Gray (T) (Kelbie 66), 8 Jackie Myles, 9 Graham Weir (Leiper 74), 10 Tommy Coyne, 11 Conor Kelly.  Subs: GK Ally Adams, 12 Kevin Kelbie, 15 Colin Leiper.

Referee: Alan Hogg

Programme: None.

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