LINLITHGOW ROSE manager Mark Bradley admitted “that was crazy stuff” as his side secured their place in the Dechmont League Cup final by beating Bonnyrigg Rose 3-2 in a remarkable match at Prestonfield last night.
After an all-action encounter where both teams finished with ten men, Bradley said: “It was a cracking game of football for the fans of both sides but the nerves were jangling for the managers.
“We controlled the first half and had a two-goal cushion but, in the middle of the second half, the sending-off of Stuart McArthur gave Bonnyrigg the confidence to push forward. But our lads have a never-beaten mentality and scored quickly for a third time.
“We thought that was it but Bonnyrigg bounced back after they had a player sent off and pulled a couple of goals back. It was crazy stuff but we settled again and ran the clock down. We’re still on track to retain the cup and delighted to be in the final.”
Linlithgow had the better of the opening 45 minutes and took a deserved lead in the 25th minute with a dazzling run into the box from Steve Manson. He outpaced the Bonnyrigg defence before drilling the ball past keeper Andy Carlin.
Then, a couple of minutes before the half-time whistle, they doubled their lead. Tommy Coyne, wide on the left, fired the ball low across the goalmouth. Keeper Carlin, at full stretch, palmed the ball onto the post where it bounced up for McArthur to head home from a couple of yards.
After the break there was a tangle of bodies resulting in a couple of bookings before McArthur threw the ball at Alec King and was sent off for his troubles. Ten minutes later, Bonnyrigg’s Steven Thomson was given his second booking of the game and was sent off for the second game on the bounce.
Linlithgow took advantage and added a third goal when Colin Strickland smashed the ball home from 12 yards. But Bonnyrigg came out fighting and Kris Renton pulled a goal back only a couple of minutes later. Then with a quarter of an hour to go, King was sent tumbling in the box for a penalty which Kevin McLeish scored to leave Linlithgow with a nervy last 15 minutes.
Both sides managed to create chances in a game which was by now flowing from end to end, but it was Linlithgow who ran out winners to claim their place in the final against either Newtongrange or Sauchie.
Bonnyrigg manager Max Christie was angry at losing the first two goals, saying: “We stood off Linlithgow in the first half and gave away two cheap goals. We rallied after the sending-offs but just couldn’t get the one we needed to take the game to penalties.
“We had a couple of great chances at the full-time whistle but couldn’t find the net.”