Many might regard Linlithgow Rose’s encounter with Bo’ness United as a meaningless end-of-season fixture, but for Rose boss Danny Smith there’s no such thing when it comes to facing his side’s nearest rivals.
In recent years, meetings between the two at this end of the campaign usually determine who finishes top of the pile, but with Kelty Hearts having stormed their way to the Super League title, it’s more of a battle to finish best of the rest.
Bo’ness can secure second place with what would be their third win over Rose in 2015, a scenario that doesn’t please Smith considering he was used to being on the winning side of the derby as a player with the Prestonfield club.
The two clubs could yet face each other in the Fife and Lothians Cup final next month if they can both win their semi-finals, and Smith is determined to get the win at Newtown Park tomorrow to restore some pride to the Rose support.
“I was fortunate when I was a player that I had a really good record against Bo’ness,” he said.
“I want to get a result for the supporters to give them a wee bit of bragging rights because they’ve not had a great time lately.
“We could potentially be playing Bo’ness in a final and I want us to put one over them tomorrow, so that the next time we play them, they remember the last time we played them they got beat.
“Potentially if we get ourselves to the final, it could be the same end to last season and we just want to try and get a bit of silverware on the board.”
Rose beat Bo’ness 2-1 in the Fife and Lothians Cup final at Newtown Park last season to secure Smith his first trophy as manager, but Bo’ness got revenge at Prestonfield on Monday with a 3-1 win to advance to the quarter-finals of the East of Scotland Cup.
Smith’s side bounced back on Wednesday night with a 3-0 defeat of Newtongrange Star, who have faltered since beating Bo’ness 3-2 earlier this month. Rose were ahead by three at the break, a much improved first-half showing from Monday.
“I was able to sit back and enjoy the game on Wednesday night and that’s been few and far between lately,” said Smith. “I just hope that the players are the same, they can relax and can go and enjoy themselves.”
The Rose squad has been stretched to the limit in recent weeks, with tomorrow’s match their ninth game in 19 days. Midfielder Alex King was brought in from Bonnyrigg Rose in March, but he is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, while defender Mick O’Byrne also has a knee problem.
Squad rotation has been crucial during a hectic few weeks and it will be until the end of the season, but although it hasn’t brought the best out of Rose, it has afforded Smith the chance to determine who he’d like to keep ahead of next season.
He added: “The next few weeks are important for assessing the squad for next season, a lot of the players are playing for their futures here and some will have to up their performances if they want to be in my plans.”
Bo’ness are without winger Darren Gribben, who isn’t expected to play again this season after pulling his hamstring on Monday night, while Rose’s Calum Smith might don a mask to play some part as he has a broken nose.