Wednesday 17 May 2017, 19.00, Prestonfield
The East Superleague game between Linlithgow Rose and Musselburgh Athletic.
It’s our first look at Linlithgow since their Junior Cup tie against Gartcairn and their form has still been extremely patchy. With several games in hand, the majority had thought that they would easily steer clear of relegation trouble, but with the games starting to run out, they still hadn’t pulled away.
A draw at Musselburgh on 6 May came after damaging defeats to Newtongrange Star and Hill of Beath Hawthorn. When they won at Fauldhouse after the Burgh game, things were starting to look up, but they were brought back down to earth with a defeat to local rivals Bo’ness United.
Manager Todd Lumsden was sacked on 2 May and caretaker Jimmy Crease was taking the team.
Musselburgh have had an equally patchy season. When we saw them win at Bonnyrigg the previous midweek, they looked like they would have too much to be dragged into relegation, but a home loss to Broughty Athletic at the weekend had put them right back in it.
With Rose and Burgh still not clear of relegation, it was a must win game for both. They each had one win out of their last six league games.
With 5 minutes gone, Coyne played the ball wide to Gray whose cross was headed wide of the Burgh goal by Batchelor.
The home defence was caught out in 7 minutes when a Musselburgh through ball saw Murphy well offside. He didn’t attempt to play the ball though and began walking back. King ran onto the ball before he cut it back to the now onside Murphy, but he shot wide. As is always the way with these decisions, there was a fair bit of complaining at the lack of an offside call.
A minute later, Kelly had a chance for Rose when he was through on goal, but he dragged his shot wide.
Batchelor was charging forward for Rose in 12 minutes before he was brought down by Lynch about 23 yards from goal. Beaumont took the free kick, but hit it high over the bar.
Kelly had an opportunity on the right hand side of the Burgh box in 17 minutes, but his shot was saved by the foot of keeper Renton.
A cross into the Burgh box in 19 minutes came all the way to Coyne at the back post. Coyne fired the ball across goal, with what looked like a shot, and Batchelor was there to tap the ball in to give Rose the lead.
Rose’s Donaldson was caught by Gillan’s late tackle in 20 minutes and was limping heavily after he received treatment. Gillan was shown the yellow card.
Batchelor received a pass in 22 minutes which he played to Beaumont, but the Rose midfielder didn’t catch his shot well and it went wide.
Rose’s Donaldson couldn’t shake off the effects of the earlier tackle and was replaced in 26 minutes.
In 27 minutes, Gray turned away from Burgh’s Donaldson and sprinted up the right. He passed to Kelly on the left hand side of the box, but his cross was cleared by the defence.
A good ball up the left by Swan in 32 minutes found Batchelor. He picked out Coyne in the Burgh box, but the striker failed to make a connection with the ball.
Kelly struck a powerful effort at the Burgh goal in 33 minutes which was parried by Renton who had time to recover the ball.
Some good build up play by Burgh in 35 minutes ended with a shot at goal from Moffat, but it was deflected wide.
A great ball by Kelly through the Burgh back line in 39 minutes sent Gray clear on goal with just the keeper to beat. He produced a very poor effort which was easily saved by Renton.
In 41 minutes, Kelly brought the ball down well in the Burgh box but half volleyed well over.
Rose had bossed the first half but only had one goal to show for their efforts. Burgh had struggled to get into the game but would still have had hope being only one behind. Both sides had looked quite nervous and you felt as though the next goal would be vital.
It was a particularly uninspiring start to the second half with little in the way of incident as both teams tried to get a hold of midfield. There was no lack of effort from the teams, but there was a lack of quality in delivering the final ball.
Gillan crossed into the Rose box in 61 minutes and the ball was flicked on by Murphy for King, but he nodded wide.
A cross into the Burgh box in 71 minutes by Swan from the left saw Burgh’s Dunn and Donaldson hit the ball against each other, but it fell kindly for them with Coyne lurking.
In 72 minutes, Gillan controlled the ball on the edge of the Rose box and had a half volley. It was well struck, but went the wrong side of the post for him.
Real excitement in 80 minutes when a parrot landed on the bar of the Rose goal.
In 81 minutes, Coyne looked to be held by Dunn as he ran onto a through ball but managed to get clear of him and clipped the ball past Renton to double the home side’s lead.
Clearly, the parrot had inspired Coyne, who would have treasured his goal.
A long range strike by Musselburgh’s Cherrie in 83 minutes was hit well, but was straight at Hill.
As the 90 minute mark was reached, Small took the ball towards the Burgh goal. His shot from the edge of the box was deflected, but Renton had time to move across to gather.
In injury time, Murphy had a strike at the Rose goal from 22 yards, but he sliced it wide.
Not the most entertaining game in the world, but the high stakes had suggested that might be the case. Burgh seemed to take a while to appreciate the importance of the game and didn’t really come alive until later on in the match. Rose looked nervous and you could feel the relief when they scored their second goal.
While Rose were not quite out of the relegation picture yet, it dropped Burgh deep into it.
Batchelor was best for Linlithgow while Murphy stood out most for Musselburgh.
Full Time: Linlithgow Rose 2 Musselburgh Athletic 0
Linlithgow Rose: 1 Darren Hill, 2 Gary Thom, 3 Reece Donaldson (Swan26), 4 Jack Beaumont, 5 Jamie MacKenzie, 6 Colin Leiper, 7 Ross Gray (Small 82), 8 Sean Muhsin, 9 Conor Kelly, 10 Tommy Coyne, 11 Blair Batchelor (Williams 85). Subs: 12 Lewis Small, 14 Mark Williams, 15 Harvey Swann, 16 Liam Coogans, 19 Ricky Barnard.
Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Kieron Renton, 14 Michael Moffat, 4 David Dunn, 3 Matty Lynch, 5 Barry Hogg, 12 Bradley Donaldson, 16 Jack Gillan, 7 Sean Murphy, 8 Gary Cherrie, 17 Ewan Ralton, 10 Mathu King. Subs: 2 John McManus, 11 Jed Davie, 16 David Porcher, 21 Ali Adams.
Referee: Evan Cairns