Linlithgow Rose boss Danny Smith admitted his side’s failure to make it into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Junior Cup at the first time of asking made it feel like a defeat.
Rose will do it all again at Camelon’s Carmuirs Park this Saturday for the right to face West Super League First Division strugglers Yoker Athletic but, on the basis of their first-half performance, they looked like they would cruise through on their home park.
Smith, who took former club Camelon to the semi-finals of the cup last season, bemoaned his side’s start to the second period, which allowed The Mariners to come from behind and lead 2-1.
“For the opening 25 minutes of the second half we didn’t start well and at times looked all over the place,” said Smith. “Camelon obviously got a bit of confidence from equalising and they probably could’ve put the game out of sight when they missed a chance to make it 3-1.
“It was up to us get control of the game again after looking like ourselves in the first half, but we didn’t and we allowed Camelon to get a bit of control.”
Smith has led Rose to two victories over Camelon in the Super League this season, but they could not convert their first-half superiority into goals and in the end he was left relieved they’re still in the tie.
He said: “The players are disappointed, it’s as if it has been a defeat, which is fine. I’m happy they are disappointed because we are not here to accept results like that. On another day we could’ve been out the cup.”
Eager to bounce back from last week’s narrow loss to league leaders Kelty Hearts, it didn’t take long for Rose to find their footing.
Roddy MacLennan played a short corner back to Adam Nelson on the wide left channel and he swung in a first-time cross which striker Tommy Coyne met at the front post to head past goalkeeper Dean Shaw for his 30th goal of the season after 14 minutes.
Strike partner Colin Strickland then sought Coyne with his cross from the right after a good move involving Mark Tyrrell and MacLennan, but defender Alan Benton was alert to the danger and headed wide to clear.
Camelon were pinned back in their own half with Rose sensing blood, but the visitors twice had the woodwork to thank for keeping them in the tie.
Blair Batchelor won a 50-50 on the edge of the box, with the ball squirming out to MacLennan and from inside the box he poked his shot goalwards, only for it to take a nick off a defender and out for a corner off the base of the post. Defender John Ovenstone rose highest to meet the corner kick, but saw his effort smack off the bar.
MacLennan and Nelson spurned further opportunities for Rose, with their visitors quite happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.
Former Bo’ness boss John Sludden took off the ineffective Colin Allison at the break, with Gary Wright introduced and a reshuffling of his side sparked them into life.
Defender Benton came close to equalising within a minute of the restart – his shot from a corner just wide of Scott Christie’s left-hand post.
Rose were close to doubling their lead through MacLennan, who shot wide from Batchelor’s pass, but just two minutes later Camelon were level.
Tyrrell allowed Jordan Devlin to cross from wide left and free in the area was striker Graham McLaren to side foot home.
Camelon weren’t going to go back into their shell and invite Rose pressure though. The home side were rattled by the equaliser and McLaren was the beneficiary once more as he strode into the box unopposed before lifting the ball over Christie.
Smith flung on Ruari MacLennan and Kevin Kelbie with 15 minutes remaining in a bid to rescue the match and the former was celebrating within four minutes of coming on.
The older MacLennan brother cut in from the left and sent a low shot through a packed area into the far bottom corner of the net. Rose might have sneaked the topsy-turvy cup tie at the death, with Kelbie’s header top-corner bound only for Shaw to produce the save of the match.
Linlithgow Rose: Christie, Tyrrell (Thom), McKillen, O’Byrne, Ovenstone, Nelson (Ruari MacLennan), Batchelor, Shirra, Strickland (Kelbie), Coyne, Roddy MacLennan.
Camelon: Shaw, Bell, Devlin, Graham, Benton, Scott (Cooper), M Wright, Ure, Allison (G Wright), McLaren, Fullerton.