A 5-1 triumph victory over Hutchison Vale at Saughton Enclosure has all but secured the East of Scotland 21s league for Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic ‘A’ 21s.
The Midlothian-based outfit have been forced to play catch-up this season with success in the league’s cup competitions ensuring a late finish to what has been a demanding ten months of competitive action.
The top-end of the East of Scotland League has provided one of the most exciting climaxes to the youth season with Tranent Juniors, Tynecastle, Leith Athletic and Bonnyrigg, all having title aspirations at one stage or another. Three points today against Musselburgh Windsor Colts will clinch the league crown for the fourth consecutive year.
Bonnyrigg underlined their superiority from the first whistle, looking to unlock a depleted Hutchie squad that contained no fewer than four trialists.
Increasing pressure on the Hutchie rearguard paid off for Bonnyrigg in the seventh minute when a free kick from the left-wing landed at the feet of midfield maestro Jordan Lister, and he duly lashed the ball into the back of the net from eight yards.
Hutchie, themselves, were quick on the break but were too often let down by the final ball when finding themselves in a good position.
Dean Knight was proving a handful for the Hutchie back-four, but the player’s attempted lob was ambitious and Malcolm was able to gather comfortably.
Bonnyrigg should have been awarded a penalty in the 25th minute when Lister weaved his way into the Hutchie penalty box and was clearly tripped by No.17 Craig Innis, but referee Ian Baillie saw no infringement and waved play on.
Stuart McGuinness and Knight both had further opportunities to increase Bonnyrigg’s lead before the interval, but the score remained 1-0 at the break.
However, Knight did find himself on the scoresheet with an exquisite finish after 51 minutes when the No. 9 controlled the ball on his chest before guiding his volley into the far right corner to make it 2-0.
Four minutes later, two became three when McGuinness bulleted his drive into the net after using his physical presence to turn his marker in the six-yard-box.
McGuinness then struck the inside of the right post as Bonnyrigg threatened to run riot.
They did, however, increase their lead to four after an hour when Knight notched his second with a superbly curled effort into the bottom left-hand corner from 20 yards.
To their credit, Hutchie didn’t let their heads drop and were rewarded with a consolation when their star player, Louis Swanson, produced an accurate drive into the far corner from a free-kick 20 yards out.
Both the Hutchie crossbar and left post were struck after a goalmouth scramble, but the Hutchie defence was breached a fifth time in the 86th minute when substitute Stephen Ferguson found space to drive his effort under Chris Malcolm.
The Hutchie goalkeeper did, however, produce the save of the match in the final minute when he tipped over Ferguson’s point-blank header.
Hutchison Vale: Chris Malcolm, Liam Tomassi, Jed Grant, Sean Guineny, Darren Moternom, Louis Swanson, Jon McInally, Craig Rugg, Chris Deigon, Craig Innis, Dan Show, Andrew Cosgrove, Declan Moffat, Craig Sinclair, Conner McGregor.
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic ‘A’: Andrew McQueen, Darrell Young, Greig Callaghan, Darren Leslie, Dean Knight, Jordan Lister, Stephen Abbott, Stuart McGuinness, Fraser Neave, Blair Dickson, Ross Pullen. Stephen Ferguson, Scott Finlayson, Gary Nicholson.