Bathgate Thistle crushed relegated Pumpherston 9-0 to edge close to third place and a play-off spot for promotion to the Super League, but manager Bobby Mann insisted his players will be doing fitness work at training tonight as punishment for failing to score ten.
The home side were 5-0 up and cruising at half-time, as Main instructed his players to produce a repeat performance after the interval to match their 10-0 scoreline against the same opponents from earlier in the season – or face running at training. With fellow third-place challengers Dalkeith Thistle dropping two points at home to Broughty Athletic, Bathgate can secure the play-off spot outright if they win their four remaining fixtures.
“I told them at half-time that they’d be running at training on Monday if they didn’t reach double figures,” said Main at full time.
“It was a good team performance, but we got slack in the second half. That’s probably the worst we have played in a second half for a long, long time. However, scoring nine goals in one game you can’t really moan at them.”
And, he’d like a repeat of their first-half showing when Bathgate travel to title-chasing Penicuik Athletic on Wednesday night.
He continued: “If we want to make third place we have to perform better than we did in the second half. We need to keep going and take the first-half display into Wednesday night. Third place is in our hands now. Dalkeith drawing is a big boost for us; it puts it in our hands and it’s down to us now to lose it.”
The home side were in the ascendancy inside the first minute as an impressive David Swan crossed for Martin Jack at the back post to knock in the opener and set a theme for the afternoon.
Striker Alex Lurinsky then doubled Bathgate’s lead as he got his first of what would be three for the match in the fifth minute, when he slid the ball past keeper Barry Hunter.
There was no stopping Bathgate who looked likely to score with every attack early on, as Lurinsky grabbed his second after Sam White teed him up inside the penalty area.
Left winger Swan was next to get in on the act. The youngster has been attracting attention from Super League clubs and he showed why with a well taken effort to make it four after just 19 minutes. He cut in sharply from the left before firing in a right foot shot from just outside the area which snuck in at Hunter’s near post.
The tricky midfielder doubled his tally ten minutes later with another excellent solo strike. He teased the visiting defence by running across the box with the ball at his feet before placing a shot into the far corner past Hunter with his first sight of white netting.
Everything seemed to be going the way of the home side in the first-half and they got a lucky break for their sixth of the afternoon on 52 minutes. Lurinsky crossed from wide left for White at the backpost to knock home but the midfielder was surprised as anyone to see it hit the back of the net.
Keeper Hunter had dived to reach for the cross and missed, and the ball simply hit off White and rolled into the net.
It was then White’s turn to assist Lurinsky for his hat-trick. White claimed for a penalty after Hunter looked to have brought him down, but the ball ran to Lurinsky and he passed it into the empty net.
Hunter produced a great save from a powerful Swan drive on 72 minutes, but he couldn’t stop the home side getting another three minutes later.
Substitute Paul McCraken and Lurinksy played an intricate one-two on the edge of the box before releasing Jack for his second goal.
Pumpherston’s Neil Shave had the chance for a consolation inside final ten minutes, but he blazed over the bar and then McCraken made it nine for Bathgate with a header from Swan’s corner kick with six minutes remaining.
Bathgate Thistle: Brines, Watson, Nicholl, Coyle (Russell), Welsh, Malone (McCracken), White (Wales), Baird, Lurinsky, Jack, Swan.
Pumpherston: Hunter, Campbell, Flemming, Adam, Mannifield (Hunter), McLeod, Forret, Campbell (Brady), Benson, Dowie, Shave.