Bonnyrigg pull off another fightback to keep title in sight

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Bonnyrigg Rose 4

Musselburgh Athletic 1

SUPER-SUB James Steele added the icing to the cake with a late double as second-half specialists Bonnyrigg came from behind yet again to stay in the Super League title race.

Max Christie’s men have made a habit of doing things the hard way this season and trailed once more at the break to a well-taken goal from Paul Currie in the 17th minute.

But they were back on level terms through Sean Grady within four minutes of the restart before Paul Shields, the former Celtic striker, fired them in front with 12 minutes to go.

Hurting himself in the process, Shields was immediately replaced by Steele and the big striker secured the points with a 90th-minute strike before adding his second two minutes into injury-time.

Given that Steele’s first goal was sandwiched between two outstanding saves from Rose keeper Mark Weir – the first from Paul Tansey and the second from Kris Renton – the final scoreline was harsh on the visitors. “4-1 flattered us,” admitted Christie, whose side have shown a resolve to constantly fight their way back.

“If we’re 1-0 down at half-time we are delighted,” he joked before adding: “I would like a game where we scored first as every week it is so draining.”

The agony has turned to joy more often than not, with Bonnyrigg still in the hunt for four trophies as the season enters the closing stretch. They’re nine points behind league leaders Linlithgow but have five games in hand, while the Junior Cup, East of Scotland Cup and Fife & Lothians Cup are also still firmly in their sights.

“I’ve never been part of a team that has been able to come back so often,” said Christie, who would certainly be a strong contender if the East Juniors handed out a Manager of the Year prize. “I’d like to think I had something to do with it but I think it’s more down to the fact they’re not prepared to lie down to anyone.”

Former Hamilton man Currie lit up a dull first-half when he finished off a Musselburgh counter-attack by taking a neat touch just outside the box and beat Weir with a shot that hit the underside of the bar and dropped over the line. Ryan McCallum and Ross Archibald both came close to equalising with headers – one was cleared off the line and the other hit the bar – before Bonnyrigg stepped up a gear in the second half.

Grady got on the end of a cross from new boy Stephen Thomson to steer a shot past Kieron Renton from the edge of the six-yard box. And Shields was almost on the identical spot as he made it 2-1 after Grady and substitutes Chris Gray and Sean Paliczka had combined to set him up. Seconds after Weir had pulled off the first of his two fabulous late saves, Steele outmuscled Chris Gordon at the other end to thump home a shot before showing a more subtle side of his game by then lobbing Renton for his second goal.

“We’ve got good strikers here in the likes of Paul Shields, Sean Grady and Ryan McCallum, so I’ve just had to be patient and wait for my chance,” said Steele. “Any time you come on you want to make an impression and hopefully I’ll have given the manager a headache for the Irvine Meadow game this week. But, if this isn’t good enough to earn a start, I’ll just keep plugging away.”

Burgh boss David McGlynn admitted it was a learning experience for his young defenders. “It’s a cruel game,” he said. “Bonnyrigg are on a winning run and they keep grinding and grinding. But there’s a difference between them going out and winning the game and being handed it and we lost two soft goals which deflated us.

“Paul Tansey has brought out a wonder save from their keeper at 2-1 and a few seconds later we’re 3-1 down.”

McGlynn, who had four new signings on the bench, revealed his priority ahead of this Saturday’s home clash with Lochee is adding some extra firepower.

“I need to put pressure on the strikers as they’re being asked to do a job week after week and need to be freshened up.”

Bonnyrigg Rose: Weir, McLeish, Stephen Thomson, David Dunn, Steven Thomson (Paliczka 15), McKenna, Shields (Steele 78), Burrell, Archibald, Grady, McCallum (Gray 77). Subs: Hendrie, Burgess.

Musselburgh Athletic: Kieron Renton, Burns, Noble (Miller 80), Gordon, Hamilton, Morgan (Swanston 65), Russell, Currie, Kris Renton, King, Tansey. Subs: Wilson, Callaghan.