Wednesday 31 May 2017, 19.15, New Dundas Park
Bonnyrigg Rose against Linlithgow Rose in the East Superleague.
After seeing Bonnyrigg fall to defeat at Broxburn and then at home to Musselburgh at the beginning of the month, it looked like their hopes of retaining their East Superleague title had gone. They then won five league games in a row, scoring 23 goals and conceding just two. What looked like a forlorn hope seemed to be back in the melting pot.
Kelty Hearts’ lead at the top of the table had seemed insurmountable for a long time, and their superior goal difference looked to have them on easy street. That was until Bonnyrigg’s latest run of victories. Kelty only had a goal difference two better than Bonnyrigg and were 6 points clear. With just the one game left for Kelty, against Bonnyrigg, two wins for Bonnyrigg in their last two games would see them win the title.
It was Bonnyrigg’s eleventh game of the month and a match that they had to win.
For Linlithgow, things finally seemed to be looking up. After seeing them win against Musselburgh on 17 May, they lost to Kelty Hearts and then saw the return of former manager Mark Bradley. A huge success in his previous spell with the club, it certainly seemed to please most of the fans.
A win at Lochee United in his first game in charge, coupled with any lingering doubts of relegation finally put to bed, meant that Linlithgow arrived in Midlothian in an upbeat mood.
Notable absentees were Bonnyrigg Rose’s Alan Horne and Linlithgow Rose’s top scorer Tommy Coyne.
An interesting formation from Bonnyrigg at the start with a back three and Turner and Gray playing as wing backs.
With Linlithgow’s home strips of maroon deemed to potentially clash with Bonnyrigg’s red and white hoops, they turned out in their change strip of black and white hoops. I hope nobody there was colour blind.
There was an early chance for Bonnyrigg in the opening minute when Jamieson ran into the box and sidestepped a defender, but he was too keen to get the ball back on his right foot and Hill saved.
A good ball from the back by Bonnyrigg in 2 minutes picked out Turner on the right and he played the ball across the face of goal, but there was nobody there.
The referee blew for a free kick to Bonnyrigg in 3 minutes, then changed his mind and gave it the other way. A dangerous ball played in was headed clear by Young to the edge of the box where Muhsin ran onto it, but fired over.
Kidd had a shot from distance at the Linlithgow goal in 4 minutes and it was just over the junction of post and bar.
McNab had a go from distance at the Bonnyrigg goal in 8 minutes, but Andrews saved.
A cross from McNab into the Bonnyrigg box in 14 minutes was flicked at goal by Kelbie, but it was wide of the target.
Gray did well to get to the by-line for Bonnyrigg in 15 minutes and he pulled the ball back for Jamieson at the front post, but he didn’t catch his shot well from inside the six yard box and Hill blocked.
In 18 minutes, a fine ball from Young was played into the path of Gray on the left for Bonnyrigg. He found Jamieson inside the box, but he was halted by a great tackle from Leiper.
Swann crossed into the Bonnyrigg box in 21 minutes and Kelly rose to head the ball into the net via the far post to put Linlithgow in front.
In the next minute, Moyes was perhaps lucky to get away with what looked like a push on Leiper in the Bonnyrigg box as they challenged for a free kick.
A clever back header by Kelly in 28 minutes sent Swann running down the left for Linlithgow. His cross found Kelbie at the back post, but a defender challenged and won the goal kick.
Nelson played a ball into the Linlithgow box in 32 minutes and it was headed down to Jamieson. He was caught as he went past MacKenzie but went on to see his shot blocked by Hill. The claims for a penalty were justified, but the referee waved them away. I expect he would claim to have played advantage, although that had not transpired.
Linlithgow’s Gray was shown the yellow card in 32 minutes for a foul on the half way line.
With 35 minutes gone, McGachie found Gray wide in the Linlithgow box, but his cut back was turned behind by the defence.
Gray was booked in 36 minutes for pulling back Linlithgow’s Muhsin.
Sloppy play by Bonnyrigg in their own half in 43 minutes saw a misunderstanding between Nelson and Young give the ball away to Kelbie. As he tried to burst in on goal, Moyes was there to tidy up and won the ball back.
One nil to the visitors at the break and a lot of work for Bonnyrigg to do to keep themselves in the title race.
McGachie found some space in 48 minutes and played the ball into the Linlithgow box, but Hill was able to smother the ball.
Young put over a cross in 49 minutes and the ball came to McIntosh about 7 yards out from the Linlithgow goal. He struck the ball on the volley but almost caught it too well as the ball came back off the bar and was cleared.
In 50 minutes, Gray’s ball from the right for Linlithgow saw Kelly try to get there at the front post, but Young did well to block.
Good build up play by Linlithgow in 54 minutes ended with McNab laying the ball off to Muhsin whose shot produced a diving save from Andrews.
Bonnyrigg’s Kidd was shown a yellow card for dissent in 58 minutes.
Turner had a lash at the Linlithgow net from the right in 61 minutes, but it was off target.
Brown put a great ball to the back post for Bonnyrigg in 62 minutes where Archibald’s header was deflected behind. From the corner, Moyes got his head to the ball but Hill saved well. The rebound came to McGachie, but his shot was blocked.
Kelbie needed treatment in 63 minutes after he went down on the half way line.
Bonnyrigg were showing signs of turning the screw as they knew that they needed to score twice to win the game with time starting to run out.
In 67 minutes, Swann crossed into the Bonnyrigg box and found McNab in acres of space. His downward header seemed to be saved by the bum of Andrews. A lucky escape for the hosts.
McIntosh found some space on the left for Bonnyrigg in 72 minutes and fired the ball across the face of goal, but there were no takers.
Brown was next to put a cross into the Linlithgow box in 73 minutes. The ball was chested down by McGachie who went down as he was challenged from behind. No penalty was given.
Another cross by Brown in 74 minutes was headed at goal by McIntosh straight into the arms of Hill, but the flag had gone up for offside anyway.
Linlithgow broke forward quickly in 79 minutes with Gray racing down the right. He played the ball to the feet of McNab who stroked the ball home to make it two.
McIntosh was booked for dissent in 80 minutes as Bonnyrigg’s frustrations got the better of them. Linlithgow’s Williams joined him a minute later for bringing down Brown.
Brown had an opportunity for the home side in 86 minutes on the left hand side of the box, but his curling shot hit the top of the bar.
Bonnyrigg’s Gray burst forward in 87 minutes and tried a shot, but it was wide of the post.
As Linlithgow tried to retain possession deep in the Bonnyrigg half, one of their players was fouled which emitted a shot of “Ya big dirty b*stard ye!” from Hill in the Linlithgow goal.
Linlithgow held on without too much trouble to get an impressive win and Bradley’s 100% record remained intact.
There seemed to be a pocket of Kelty fans in attendance who were particularly pleased when the final whistle went.
So Bonnyrigg’s title challenge didn’t quite make it to a final day shoot-out at Kelty and despite a season full of great results, they only had the East of Scotland Cup left in their sights.
The majority of the home supporters stayed behind to applaud their team after the game in what was their last home match of the season.
Moyes just about held the home defence together and Turner had a good second half and had a real influence after he was pushed further forward. Brown also showed good urgency when he came on. Leiper was a rock at the heart of the Linlithgow defence. Also impressive for the visitors were Kelly, who caused problems up front and the tricky Swann.
Full Time: Bonnyrigg Rose 0 Linlithgow Rose 2
Bonnyrigg Rose: 1 Michael Andrews, 3 Ross Archibald, 4 Kerr Young, 5 Euan Moyes, 6 Lewis Turner, 2 Andrew Kidd, 10 Adam Nelson (Brown 52), 8 Scott Gray, 9 Wayne McIntosh, 7 Sean Jamieson, 11 Kieran McGachie. Subs: 12 Johnny Brown, 14 Chris Tobin, 15 Dean Brett 16 Jonathan Stewart, 17 Dawid Patarek.
Linlithgow Rose: 1 Darren Hill, 3 Mark Williams, 2 Gary Thom, 4 Jamie MacKenzie, 5 Colin Leiper, 6 Sean Muhsin, 7 Ross Gray (Small 81), 8 Robbie McNab, 11 Harvey Swann, 9 Kevin Kelbie, 10 Conor Kelly. Subs: 12 Lewis Small, 14 Reece Donaldson, GK Ricky Barnard.
Referee: Colin Whyte