LINLITHGOW ROSE were sent crashing out of the Scottish Junior Cup by the side they beat in last season’s semi-final, Shotts Bon Accord, who exacted revenge for the defeat over the two legs last year with left winger Andy Cross grabbing a goal in each half in a 2-1 victory.
Linlithgow boss Mark Bradley was scathing afterwards. “That performance was not acceptable, not good enough and not what the supporters will accept,” he said. “There was a lack of desire until we went two behind with quarter of an hour to go.”
It was indeed sweet revenge for a very good Shotts side that came to Prestonfield Park with a solid game plan and the energy to carry it out. For Linlithgow though, it was an all too often seen display. They like to play attractive football, but sometimes players have to dig deep and forget the niceties to get a result.
Bradley didn’t see enough tenacity on Saturday. “It was the whole team who let a lot of people down. From back, to middle, to front it wasn’t acceptable and the players know that. It wasn’t until Shotts scored their second goal that the players realised they were facing a cup exit.
“It was so frustrating watching from the sidelines.”
Last season the two games in the semi-final were tight, but Shotts have had to make a lot of changes since then. A new manager, Tam McDonald, has brought in new players after the club dropped down a division.
Shotts started the game better, with Rose keeper Scott Christie forced into two super saves in the opening ten minutes. Shotts then hit the bar with a header from Jack Marriot before, in the 40th minute, they went ahead. The Linlithgow defence was pulled all over the place in failing to clear the ball and the middle was left wide open for Andy Cross to run through and slide the ball home from 15 yards.
Linlithgow had to improve for the second half and they showed a lot more promise without troubling keeper Gary White in the Shotts goal. Ruari MacLennan had a couple of efforts blocked, while Adam Nelson tried his luck from distance without success. They were pushing forward without any real conviction making the job of the already organised Shotts defence a lot easier.
Then, with 15 minutes remaining, some crazy defending gave Shotts their second goal. A long ball was chased into the Rose box by Sean McKenna, who was blocked in his run on goal. He turned and laid the ball back before it was delivered wide to an unmarked Cross just inside the box on the left and he drove a low ball under Christie and into the net.
Linlithgow were stunned. They had to dig deep now and only five minutes later they pulled a goal back. Tommy Coyne drove into the Shotts box before releasing Ruari MacLennan. His shot was blocked out to substitute Gordon Herd, who slammed it home from ten yards.
The Rose sensed they had a chance now and threw everything at the Shotts defence. However, the visitors were very well organised and held firm as wave after wave of pressure came their way.
In the end, Shotts were far too good a side to be easily beaten and they won the right to be in the hat for the fourth-round draw with a gritty and confident display.
Bradley warned his players: “We may have to look at strengthening the squad and making changes. Too many times this season we’ve haven’t looked the team who did so well last season.
Linlithgow: Christie, Tyrrell, Dunn (Meechan), McKenzie, Ovenstone, Shirra, Ru MacLennan, Nelson, Smith (Strickland), Coyne, Ro MacLennan (Herd). Subs: Gibson, McKinven.
Shotts: G White, Wharton, Burns (Finnigan) McMahon, Walker, S Marriot, Hanlon, McStay, McKenna, J Marriot, Cross. Subs: J White, Rankin, McLenaghan.