Bo’ness United assistant manager Steve Pittman felt his team should have put more goals past Super League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose but was nevertheless delighted to take all three points as the Newtown Park men kept their slim title hopes alive.
A goal apiece from new signing Jack Simpson and Ross Philp put second place Bo’ness in command during an action packed second half in which Bonnyrigg had three players ordered off, before Fraser McLaren pulled a goal back for the visitors.
Bonnyrigg’s first league defeat since August means the gap at the top of the table is down to just a point, although the leaders do have three games in hand over Bo’ness in second.
Pittman admitted he and manager Allan McGonigal had almost given up on the title with the BUs having not won any of their last three matches leading up to this fixture, but be aiming to win their remaining seven games.
“It was a very good performance, they did really well,” said Pittman. “I think it was the pressure we put them under, we were dominating the game. We had an excellent second half and I think they were getting frustrated. We deserved the three points.
“Their keeper had three or four really good saves, so it could’ve been more, but we’re just really happy with the three points. Before the game on Saturday myself and Allan weren’t really worried about the league, after we had a couple of slip ups we never even mentioned it again. We’ll just go along, hopefully win the rest of our games and see where it takes us.”
The home side came closest to taking the lead after 11 minutes from a Robert Sloan corner. Defender Ross Campbell rose highest to meet the cross, but he nodded wide at the back post. Rose left-back Ruaridh Donaldson then had the first attempt for the visitors after being played in by Wayne McIntosh, but he sent his shot the wrong side of Scott Christie’s goal frame.
Bonnyrigg had an appeal for a penalty waved away by referee Peter Stuart in the 30th minute after Lewis Turner went down inside the area, with the official producing a yellow card for simulation, much to the dismay of the midfielder who felt he had been felled.
In-form striker McIntosh, fresh from four goals in a 7-0 rout of St Andrews last weekend, should have fired his side in front, but he blazed over the bar when well placed 12 yards out. Dean Hoskins then sent a header wide for the visitors before Bonnyrigg’s Adam Nelson cleared off the line just before the break after James McAteer’s shot had beaten goalkeeper Michael Andrews.
Bo’ness surged into the lead with the first chance of the second half, former Hearts and Hamilton youngster Simpson latching onto Stuart Hunter’s long ball before he dispatched past Andrews.
The home side shocked Bonnyrigg eight minutes later as they doubled their lead. Sloan’s free-kick was saved brilliantly by Andrews before Fraser Keast knocked the rebound onto the post, but Philp was there to knock home from close range.
Kieran McGachie’s shot looked on target only for Hunter to block his effort as Rose sought a quick response, and Hoskins’ half volley dipped just over the bar.
Bo’ness substitute Marty Wright almost made an instant impact, his first touch a header which he sent towards the bottom corner but Andrews flung himself down to save. Before Bo’ness could take the corner, Stuart was consulted by nearside linesman Euan Donaldson before the referee showed Hoskins a straight red card, believed to be for foul and abusive language towards the assistant.
Andrews then made a quick-fire double save from Sloan and Wright to keep the ten men of Rose in the match, but they suffered another blow after McIntosh was shown his second yellow card for an off the ball exchange with Will Snowdon.
Rose substitute McLaren gave the visitors a lifeline with a composed finish on 85 minutes, the former Peterhead frontman lifting the ball over Christie and into the back of the net.
But hopes of salvaging a point were quashed with two minutes remaining as Donaldson became the third Rose player to see red after he brought down Nicky Walker on the edge of the box, earning him a second booking.
Bonnyrigg boss Robbie Horn felt referee Stuart spoiled the game as he was too willing to hand out cards. “The sending’s-off changed the game,” he said. “There was a lot of poor and inconsistent decisions in the game and so many yellow cards when there was hardly a bad tackle in the game. Every time there was a foul, there was a booking and it killed the game.
“Decisions never went our way, but I thought Bo’ness deserved it over the piece. At the end of the day we are still control at the top of the league and other teams have got to catch us. It’s just about regrouping and going again.”
Bo’ness United: Christie, Snowdon, Devine, Campbell, Hunter, Nimmo (Gemmell), Simpson, Philp, McAteer (Walker), Keast (Wright), Sloan.
Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews, Horne, Donaldson, Stewart, Young, Hoskins, Gray (Kidd), Turner, McGachie (McLaren), Nelson, McIntosh.