Linlithgow Rose striker Tommy Coyne hopes their Scottish Cup heroics can spur them on to hit top form in the Super League.
The Rose hitman sealed their passage into the second round of the William Hill Scottish Cup after their Lowland League hosts had them worried that their first-half profligacy might be punished.
The visitors should’ve been out of sight by half-time, but found Gala goalkeeper Mark Wilson in inspired form to limit Rose to a one-goal lead at the interval.
Given their penchant for conceding late goals this season, with Rose having dropped eight points in the Super League this season from winning positions going into the last five minutes, Coyne was relieved to seal their place in Thursday’s second-round draw.
“I thought we started really well and could’ve been two or three up early on, but fair play to Gala, they came right back into it and caused us a few problems in the second half,” said Coyne.
“I missed a couple of chances and the goalie pulled off a great save in the first half but I was just delighted to sow up the win because when it’s 1-0 it’s always likely that they might get one more chance.
“It’s good to get into the next round and we’ll see what it brings. It’s a bonus for the Junior teams to be in this. We’ll just take it a round at a time and hopefully this is a wee catalyst for us to go on and do well in the league. We’ve had a couple of draws, but we’re still unbeaten this season so hopefully we can kick on from here.”
This was always going to be a potential banana skin for the visitors. Played on an artificial pitch, the Borders side had an instant advantage given Rose hadn’t played or trained on such a surface this season.
But the men from West Lothian, in their black and white change strip, were on the attack from the off – left-back Chris Gray almost catching out goalkeeper Wilson in the opening minute, with his cross inches away from creeping under the crossbar.
However, five minutes later and Rose were ahead. Ruari MacLennan surged through the centre of the pitch before feeding striker Colin Stirckland who arrowed his shot into the far corner with the outside of his right boot. Coyne then looked to follow his strike partner’s lead with a fierce effort which he must have thought was net-bound, only for Wilson to flick over for a corner.
Rose were creating chances at ease and MacLennan was next to test out Wilson with a headed effort after Blair Batchelor had teed him up with a delightful ball over the top of the defence.
The home side responded and were unlucky not to level through substitute Ross Aitchison – the defender having his initial attempt saved by Ally Adams before he sent his second chance over the bar.
Batchelor then hit the bar as Rose cranked up the pressure as they sought their second of the tie, before Coyne saw an effort deflected wide.
Rose were given a let off on the stoke of halftime as Batchelor headed off his own post as he tried to clear Dean Malcom’s free-kick.
Watched on by their former manager Jim Jefferies, Gala sought to punish Rose as they went in search of an equaliser after the break. Adams had to be alert to deny Stuart Noble before the Rose No.1 thwarted defender Lee Stephen.
Coyne thought he’d get the chance to ensure their passage to round two from 12 yards after referee Duncan Williams pointed to the spot, but after consulting his far side linesman, he instead awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area.
But Ryan Baptie flashed it in low and Callum Robertson flicked on for Coyne to side-foot home from little more than two yards out to seal the tie. Gala’s Aitchison was sent-off for hauling down Robertson in the final minute.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: Wilson, Stephen, Miller, Galbraith, Herdman (Aitchison), Bonnar, Malcolm, Hope (Lamb), Noble, Gibson, Jardine (Clapperton).
Linlithgow Rose: Adams, Thom, Gray, McKenzie, Leiper, MacLennan, Batchelor, Shirra, Strickland (Robertson), Coyne, Weir (Baptie).