Striker Lumbert Kateleza put in a man-of-the-match performance as Penicuik Athletic laid down a marker for this season with an opening-day victory over Super League title hopefuls Linlithgow Rose.
Lithgae could not cope with the pace of the 34-year-old Tanzanian striker, who made an instant impact on his debut after being plucked from Premier League Arniston Rangers over the summer.
The little forward ran Rose ragged in the first-half as he bagged his first goal for the club and also chipped in with an assist as Penicuik went into the interval with a 3-0 lead – a scoreline that actually flattered Linlithgow.
The visitors rallied in the second half and pulled back two goals, by which time Kateleza had dislocated his shoulder and been substituted.
“It was a good debut for me, although I was disappointed that I had to come off in the second half when I hurt my shoulder,” said Kateleza. “It popped out and I had to put it back in, but I couldn’t really continue.
“I’m enjoying it here. I’ve settled in fine and the lads have been very good for me. I had so many friends at Arniston so it was very hard for me to move. I was settled and I liked it there, but when the chance came for me to move up I had to take it.
“Beating Linlithgow is a good start for us; three points is all we wanted. From what I heard Linlithgow had improved a lot this season, so beating a team like that just shows where we are.”
Both sides have made vast changes to their playing staff over the summer. Penicuik made 12 signings over the close season, but they clicked straight into gear in a rampant first half.
The opener arrived after just four minutes when Ross Montgomery drilled the ball across goal and with Keith Lough waiting to pounce, Rose left-back Kyle Turnbull diverted the ball into his own net.
Referee Duncan Smith correctly awarded the home side a penalty on 16 minutes after Kateleza was impeded by goalkeeper Ritchie Barnard and the striker finished high into the roof of the net.
Everything that was good about Penicuik in the first half came through their new signing and he went from goal hero to goal maker on 27 minutes when he skinned Rose centre half Colin Leiper and slid the ball to the back post for Lough to tap home.
Linlithgow couldn’t cope with Penicuik’s energy in the first half, but they stepped it up after the interval and pulled a goal back on 51 minutes
Making his second debut for the club after re-joining from Bo’ness United over the summer, Ruari MacLennan sent the ball searing high into the net after the ball broke to him on the edge of the box.
When Roddy MacLennan pulled another one back two minutes later, the signs were ominous for the home side, but they held firm with Rose unable to steal back a third.
The match turned scrappy with Tommy Coyne having Rose’s best chance, but he was denied by a fine Kyle Allison double save. Coyne was sent-off for a second booking on 78 minutes and he was soon followed by Penicuk’s Darrell Young, while home defender Andrew Forbes was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Roddy MacLennan in the closing stages.
Rose boss Mark Bradley pulled no punches on his assessment of their first 90 minutes of the season.
He said: “We weren’t good enough at all. The first 45 minutes for us were a disgrace for the standards we expect. There was a lot said at half-time and after the game.
“We never worked hard enough, we never matched them and showed enough commitment to match the game. Probably everything went wrong to stop them playing.
“I thought we would’ve kicked on after getting two goals back but we didn’t seem to take anything from that. There better be a response from them at training never mind Wednesday, because it wasn’t acceptable. You can’t go 3-0 down before you react to things.”
Penicuik Athletic: Allison, Forbes, Williams, Hume, Young, Jones, McCrory-Irving, Barr, Lough, Kateleza (Connolly), Montgomery.
Linlithgow Rose: Barnard, Gray, Turnbull (Shields), Thom, Leiper, Sloan (Batchelor), Ronald, Ruari MacLennan, Roddy MacLennan, Malone (Strickland), Coyne.