Linlithgow Rose lost a home Super League game for the first time under Mark Bradley’s stewardship and saw their hopes of retaining the title slip away over the horizon.
“It was a much better performance than last week, but still not good enough to stop the rot,” said Bradley.
It is an incredible record that Bradley has at Linlithgow, but it still won’t please the Prestonfield faithful because expectations from the terracing are high. They know the team isn’t playing as well as last season, but so do Bradley and the players.
“We know just how tough it is for our supporters,” said Bradley. “They expect much more than they see on the pitch just now, but the players are suffering just as much. Last season the goals were flying in – now we hit the bar or post and we have to take that on the chin.”
This was the only game to survive the wet weather in the Super League and in front of a big crowd of fellow Junior players, fans and committee members, the game kicked off in almost perfect conditions.
Linlithgow started strongly and Steve Meechan stung the hands of Beath keeper Stuart Hall with a 20-yard effort.
However, it was Hill of Beath who opened the scoring only a minute later when Jamie McKenzie sliced the ball into his own net from a low cross supplied by Aaron Hay.
Beath keeper Stuart Hall then produced the magic everyone knows he has in his locker with a string of super saves. Still, though, they couldn’t find the net, and, as so often happens in football, the action turned to the other end and Beath added the second.
In the 37th minute, James Adam ran at the home defence before releasing the ball to Ross Allum on the left wing. He drove at the goal with his final effort taking a couple of deflection on its way into the net.
Again Linlithgow were stung by yet another poor goal to lose, but this time didn’t have long to wait for a response. Only three minutes later and Rose pulled a goal back. Chris Wilson sent in a low cross from the left where Roddy MacLennan dummied the ball for Colin Strickland to fire home from 12 yards.
The second half started with Linlithgow camped around the Beath penalty box again. Again, though, Beath keeper Hall was producing the goods with another string of super saves from Diack, Meechan, Strickland and Nelson. Hill Of Beath were always dangerous and Linlithgow keeper Scott Christie had to be at his best a couple of times in the second half.
Rose boss Bradley threw on his subs in an attempt to freshen things up and they duly did, with Calum Smith and Tommy Coyne bringing new ideas to proceedings. They forced four corners on the bounce with the last almost bringing a goal, but Ritchie McKillen headed over from three yards out.
Rose were then awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty box. Adam Nelson stepped up and crashed the ball off the bar and away to safety.
In the final action of the game, Linlithgow looked to have grabbed a draw. After a scramble from a corner, keeper Hall looked to have clawed the ball back out from being over the line with the Rose players screaming at the referee and linesman to no avail.
It was a much improved performance from Linlithgow, but lady luck has deserted them for the moment.
Bradley concluded: “I don’t know where to start. The attitude was terrific. The goals we are losing are criminal. It’s just the way things are going for us just now. It’s very frustrating.
“The boys are now experiencing things on the other side of what we had last season. We’ll having to take things on the chin, though, and work hard at training. We’re not getting the rub of the green just now.
“Adam hit woodwork for the third time in two weeks when last season these things were flying in. There is only one way out of this and that’s working hard at our game.”
Linlithgow: Christie, Gibson, McKillen, Nelson, McKenzie, Shirra, Ro MacLennan, Meechan, Strickland, Diack (Smith), Wilson (Coyne). Subs: Tyrrell, Ru MacLennan, McKinven.
Hill Of Beath: Hall, Lee, Hay, B Smith (Renton), Dair, Adam, Wright, Allum, G Smith (Brewster), Hay, C Adamson. Subs: Wardlaw, R Adamson.