Bo’ness United boss Allan McGonigal praised his team’s determination after they secured all three points, despite playing more than 50 minutes with ten men, in a 1-0 victory at Newtongrange Star
Winger Darren Gribben was given a straight red card just short of half-time for protesting to referee Simon MacLean after he didn’t award the visitors a penalty when the scores were level.
Bo’ness were forced to sit and defend for most of the second half after taking the lead just after the interval, as Newtongrange fought for an equaliser to stop the Super League leaders moving three points clear.
McGonigal insisted the victory was a massive boost.
He said: “To win leagues you’ve got to grind things out when things seem to be going against you and that was a massive three points. It’s another step towards our goal.
“In terms of their effort they really dug in and they were out on their feet at the end. That’s the sort of team spirit and harmony that wins things, and they deserved that.”
And, the Bo’ness gaffer admitted his side got team-mate Gribben off the hook after his first-half sending-off.
“If we got beat there the talking point would’ve been Darren Gribben. The fact is we won and that’s irrelevant now. The boys dug him out a hole there.”
The visitors had looked threatening in the early stages with Nicky Walker and Zander Miller both putting in dangerous crosses from either flank, but no one was able to convert.
Newtongrange were first to get a shot on target after 18 minutes. Striker Craig O’Reilly held the ball up well on the edge of the box, before firing a shot away on the spin and although goalkeeper Mark Peat stopped the snapshot, he wasn’t able to hold onto it.
Bo’ness cleared but only as far as Paul Tansey whose attempt almost snuck in under the bar but Peat tipped over well.
Tansey was again involved as the home side countered minutes later. Jordan Cropley found him with a ball in behind the Bo’ness defence and he swept in to the area looking for O’Reilly, but Stuart Hunter cleared.
Then came the talking point of the first 45 minutes. Referee MacLean waved play on after Bo’ness appealed in vain for a penalty, claiming a Newtongrange player had handled in the box. Gribben continued to protest as the action moved on however, and MacLean flashed his red card.
Bo’ness brought on captain Chris Donnelly for Stewart Devine during the interval, and the versatile player was involved in the opener five minutes into the second half.
Donnelly got his head on to a corner at the front post and the ball found it’s way to Paul Murphy who flicked the ball into the net at the back post, with Star keeper Kris Renton unable to keep it out.
As expected, Bo’ness sat back as the hosts threw players forward in search of a leveller. The visitors rarely looked troubled though, with their best chances coming from set-pieces. Blair Tolmie came closest after Chris King swept a free-kick into the box on 75 minutes, but the defender couldn’t get on the end of it from just three yards out.
Newtongrange forced three consecutive corners late on, but nothing came of it and Bo’ness held on to move three points clear of their opponents and six points clear of Linlithgow Rose at the top of the table.
Goalscorer Murphy is confident his side can go on and secure the title with seven games remaining.
“I hope we can do it. We will do it. We have too good a squad not to do it,” he said.
“A lot of boys after the Lochee game maybe questioned their bottle to see if we could go on and win the league. I think today every player to a man was great from start to finish.”
Newtongrange Star: Renton, Swaney, Deland, Tolmie, Kerr, Noble (King), Cherrie, Jamieson, Tansey, Cropley, O’Reilly.
Bo’ness United: Peat, Snowdon, Devine (Donnelly), Hunter, Campbell, Murphy, Nimmo (C Scott). Walker, A Scott, Gribben, Miller (Hislop).