Bonnyrigg Rose boss Max Christie insists his side are out of the Super League title race despite defeating league leaders Newtongrange Star in the Midlothian derby for their first win of 2014.
“No chance of the title, we are out of that,” said Christie.
“Our priority is top four. Expectations at Bonnyrigg are to win the title, and we are expected to win every game. We’ve got this result and we have to build on it.”
An eighth-minute strike from Rose’s Sean Grady proved to be the winner for the visitors in a closely-fought contest, with Star losing their first match since December – and only their second home loss in this season’s Super League.
Christie was delighted to get the win after a period which has saw his team go six league games without victory.
He said: “It’s so important to score first and we did. It was a scrappy goal, but that gives you a lift and something to defend. I thought we’ve not been playing too badly. The football gods have been against us of late, but it’s obvious our spirit is still there and the boys are still really hungry to do well.
“To come here and win is a great result for us. Newtongrange have been the team of the season so far, they’ve done really well. We’ve had a hard run of late, the first time since I’ve been here. We are sticking together and we’ll get through it.”
Striker Grady put Rose ahead after Star keeper Kieron Renton made a quick double-save from two close-range strikes, only for Grady to bundle home from six yards.
Chris Renton came close to a second for the visitors on 16 minutes after a deep cross from left-back Brian Murray found the striker at the back post, but his header flashed across goal.
Star appeared a little rocked from Rose’s bright start, after conceding just their seventh home goal of their league campaign so far, and they came close to giving away another on the half hour when Stewart Roseburgh’s volley flew inches wide of the post.
The home side were starting to play, with midfield trio Jordan Cropley, Chris King and Paul Tansey all linking up well with striker Sean Jamieson.
Jamieson is always willing to link up with his midfielders, and after holding the ball up he fed Cropley on the edge of the box, with his cross cleared for a corner. Centre-back David Dunn got his head on the end of the flag-kick but sent it straight at Rose keeper David Hay.
Jamieson linked up well with Cropley again after outsmarting his marker on the left side of the box, before feeding his team-mate, but Cropley rushed his strike and blasted over the bar with five minutes of the first-half remaining.
King came close to a leveller five minutes after the interval. The playmaker showed intricate footwork to skip past a defender, dinking left and right before sending a 25-yard strike just wide of the right-hand post.
Star were looking more likely to score next, but despite having most of the ball, they weren’t doing too much to threaten the visitors. When they did break through, Craig O’Reilly, just on as a substitute, got on the end of Cropley’s through-ball, but one-on-one with Hay he wasted his chance as he blazed high over the bar. Rose then almost compounded O’Reilly’s wastefulness as Renton came close to a second, but his strike from ten yards was sent wide as Michael Deland threw himself in front of the goal-bound effort to block it for a corner.
Star threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser, but left themselves wide open to a Rose counter-attack, with the visitors looking more likely to get the second goal.
Grady came close at the back post after Renton’s flashing cross, but found his strike blocked before he almost scored in the final minute. Not that he’d worry too much, after his eighth-minute strike ensured Bonnyrigg came away from the derby with all three points.
Newtongrange Star: Renton, Shields, Tolmie, Dunn, Noble, Cropley, Cherrie, King (O’Reilly), Tansey (Forster), Deland, Jamieson. Subs: McManus, Kerr, Amos.
Bonnyrigg Rose: Hay, McLeish, Horne, Woodburn, Burrell, King (Gemmell), McKenna, Renton, Grady, Murray, Roseburgh (Archibald). Subs: White, Manson, Gray.