Newtongrange Star boss Alan Miller dedicated their win over Super League champions Bo’ness United to the family of life-long fan John Quinn, who passed away though illness last week.
John was remembered before the match with an impeccable minute’s silence and the home side went on to deliver a gutsy performance that he would have been proud of.
“I am absolutely delighted for the Quinn family – that win was for them,” said Miller.
“That name is synonymous with this football club and I’m absolutely delighted for them, even in these difficult circumstances. John was one of the best supporters the club has ever seen.”
Newtongrange are now ten points clear of last year’s champions in second place, with Bo’ness in seventh, but with two games in hand – their three losses in the league this season all coming after their exploits in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Star manager Miller refused to admit the win was important in the context of their title hopes, despite Star midfielder Chris King claiming before the match that they needed to start beating the bigger Super League sides. He said: “We’ve achieved nothing. We were ten or 12 points ahead of Bo’ness last season and they caught us. We’ve got to learn from these things. I couldn’t care less who we beat as long as we get the wins on the table.”
The home side were ahead as early as the third minute. Striker Kris Renton was a handful for the Bo’ness back four all afternoon and he forced defender Colin Leiper into making a challenge in the box, but it was mistimed and referee Lorraine Clark pointed to the spot.
Sean Jamieson calmly scored past goalkeeper Mark Peat. Bo’ness should have regained parity inside ten minutes as Scott Pittman’s shot was blocked into the path of Nicky Walker, but the winger fizzed his shot inches wide of Keiron Renton’s right-hand post.
Darren Gribben for Bo’ness then flashed a free-kick from the edge of the box via a deflection off the wall, but it went wide, before Leiper’s shot was cleared off the line by Blair Tolmie.
Newtongrange went 2-0 ahead after 28 minutes. Leiper’s header was saved by Renton from a corner and the keeper launched a high-kick into the Bo’ness half. Former Hearts midfielder Craig Thomson controlled it first time before setting up King with a delightful pass and King chipped over the onrushing Peat. The home side were saved once more four minutes later when Tolmie again cleared off the line after Walker’s shot had sneaked under Renton.
Bo’ness manager Allan McGonigal brought on striker Mark Cowan and Ian Nimmo for Kieran Anderson and Paul Murphy at the half-time. And the second half was only four minutes old when Bo’ness right-back Will Snowdon scored a penalty after he had been felled by John McManus. Star almost regained their two-goal lead instantly however. Jamieson rampaged down the right and delivered a perfect ball across the face of goal for Matti King, but he shot wide of the post.
Keeper Renton stopped Bo’ness on 57 minutes when he got down well to push clear Pittman’s strike. His opposite number Peat was also on form, tipping over Thomson’s drive from outside the box, before stopping Tolmie’s goal-bound header from the resulting corner.
The visitors, pushing for an equaliser, had all the momentum in the last 15 minutes however. Defender Ross Campbell’s header looked set to burst the net, but crashed off the post and back to him, before his second effort was cleared off the line.
Cowan was then left shell-shocked when his header from Andy Scott’s cross was somehow stopped by Renton on 80 minutes – the keeper flinging out a leg after diving the opposite way. The missed chances seemed to deflate the visitors and Nitten had the chance to seal the points in the final minute, but Peat somehow stopped Jameison from extending their lead after the striker’s volley from five yards out looked set to burst the net.
Bo’ness boss McGonigal, who was sent off for shouting at the referee during the second half, said: “The best team doesn’t always win football games. I thought the best team got beat.”
Newtongrange Star: Keiron Renton, McManus, Deland, Tolmie, Dunn, Cherrie (Noble), Jamieson, Thomson, Kris Renton, C.King (Wilson), M.King (Cropley)
Bo’ness United: Peat, Snowdon, Campbell, Murphy (Nimmo), Leiper, Scott, Walker, Philp, Anderson (Cowan), Pittman, Gribben