Resilient Linlithgow Rose put title back in reach

Goalscorer Iain Diack celebrates with Ruari MacLennan. Pic: Toby Williams
Goalscorer Iain Diack celebrates with Ruari MacLennan. Pic: Toby Williams
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Ten-man Rose bounced back from last week’s debacle to oust Musselburgh 1-0 and put themselves firmly back in contention to regain their Super League title.

Caretaker boss Jim Harkins praised the resilience of a team which had conceded six goals to St Andrews and lost their manager just seven days before.

He said: “As the game went on we showed our supporters what we are made of. I never ever accepted the criticism that they weren’t trying. I thought they had lost their way a bit – they were getting asked to play in a formation that didn’t suit them. We’ve dug in to get the result, we were very brave at the end. We are absolutely delighted to come away with all three points.”

Harkins also revealed that talks will begin this week with potential replacements for Mark Bradley.

He continued: “We’ve got a quality list of applicants. There isn’t one sticking out clearly on top of the rest, there is at least half a dozen that we’d like to talk to. We’ll get interviews done this week. If we get a manager in, the quicker the better, although if it doesn’t happen this week I’ll take them again.”

Harkins opted for a 4-4-2 formation and Rose were quick out of the blocks. With the wind behind them they could’ve been in front as early as the third minute. A corner found striker Tommy Coyne at the back post and he fired goalwards, but Musselburgh goalkeeper Dale Cornet got down well to his right to stop a certain goal.

Musselburgh had an excellent chance of their own to get the opener after six minutes. Striker Steven Thomson found space in the box and shot goalwards, but Rose’s Ritchie McKillen threw himself in front of the strike to block it’s route to goal.

Cornet then had to be precise with a challenge after coming out to the edge of the box to foil at the feet of Coyne who had been played in with a lovely cross-field pass from strike partner Iain Diack. The keeper could do nothing to stop Rose from getting the opener on 26 minutes, however. Cornet produced a great diving stop from Coyne’s drive, but the ball went straight to Diack’s feet and he couldn’t miss.

Musselburgh defender Brian Martin should’ve done better with a header ten minutes before the interval. Michael McKenna whipped in a corner kick, but Martin’s header flew over the bar.

The home side were given a route back into the match after 40 minutes when Rose were reduced to ten men. Conor Thomson played a one-two with Kevin McDonald in midfield before driving towards the box, but he was cruelly taken out by Rose defender Billy Gibson on the edge of the box, with Gibson given his marching orders. Thomson took the free kick, but it deflected off the wall and out for a corner.

The ten men of Rose should’ve doubled their lead at the beginning of the second half. Coyne played in Calum Smith, but Cornet pushed his strike wide.

Linlithgow were getting men behind the ball, restricting Musselburgh to shots from distance, which did nothing to test Rose keeper Scott Christie.

It wasn’t until the final ten minutes that the hosts produced anything to fully test out Christie. Conor Thomson worked an opening after cutting in from the right wing. He ran across the face of the box and got a shot away with his left foot, but Christie gathered well.

McKenna then had two chances to put Musselburgh level in the final five minutes, both after the ball had broken out to him inside the box, but Christie did well on both occasions to palm clear, with his view blocked from a packed penalty area.

Musselburgh: Cornet, Russell (McDiarmid), Martin, Hunter, Hamilton, Myles (Hunter), McKenna, McDonald, S Thomson, C Thomson, Murphy. Subs: Adams, A Christie, M Christie.

Linlithgow: Christie, Tyrrell, Ovenstone, McKillen, Gibson, Nelson, Roddy MacLennan (Strickland), Ruari MacLennan, Diack (Wilson), Coyne, Smith.