Season a failure if Rose don’t win trophy – boss

Ruari MacLennan scores the winner for Linlithgow Rose. Pic: Scott Louden
Ruari MacLennan scores the winner for Linlithgow Rose. Pic: Scott Louden
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DANNY SMITH admits his first full season in charge of the club he captained during a glory-laden 12-year spell would be deemed a failure if they ended the campaign trophyless.

A fans’ favourite during his playing days at Linlithgow, Smith won three Scottish Junior Cups and two Super League titles. However, he has come under fire from sections of the Rose support in recent months due to their lacklustre form which culminated in a Junior Cup semi-final exit to Musselburgh Athletic and failure to maintain a title challenge.

Smith, who took charge last March after leaving Camelon, lifted the Fife and Lothians Cup with Rose last year and he is targeting success in that competition again this season after they booked a semi-final visit to Sauchie with a 3-2 victory over Penicuik on Saturday.

The East of Scotland Cup is also in his sights, as Rose make the short journey to Newtown Park this evening for their third-round clash against rivals Bo’ness United.

“Yes, I would say it would be a failure if we don’t win anything,” he said. “I don’t think you have a divine right to win trophies; you need to work hard and earn that. Silverware is always important at Prestonfield and it’s what we are all here for, from supporters, committee, players, myself and the coaching staff.

“Unfortunately. the league is gone and the two pieces of real silverware that we can do something about, we are still in. It is important that we try and win these because we set out at the start of the season to win trophies.”

Rose had taken a one-goal lead into the interval through striker Kevin Kelbie’s penalty kick, but the visitors turned the tie on its head with two goals early in the second period – much to the frustration of Smith.

He said: “At times, you stand here and there’s nothing that amazes you. I just felt we were so comfortable then all of a sudden we allowed Penicuik back into the game and they got an equaliser. Overall, I’ve got to be happy as we showed a wee bit of character to come back from 2-1 down and get ourselves back in the game.”

Both sides took time to adapt to the windy conditions and it was perhaps the swirling gale which aided Penicuik after Colin Strickland’s free-kick effort whistled just past goalkeeper Youssef Bejaoui’s right-hand upright on seven minutes. Ryan Gay then had Rose worried with his corner kick which was whipped in right on top of goalkeeper Scott Christie, but no Penicuik player could find the desired touch to divert the ball into the net.

Penicuik were incensed when referee Lorraine Clark pointed to the penalty spot after Roddy MacLennan fell to the ground under former Rose defender Michael McDermott’s challenge and Kelbie compounded their woes as he sent Bejaoui the wrong way.

The Penicuik stopper prevented Rose from doubling their lead with two impressive saves on the half-hour mark from Gary Thom’s efforts.

Striker Kelbie, who has endured a frustrating stop-start season through injury since joining Smith in moving from Camelon, should’ve got his second two minutes into the second half when presented with the chance from Roddy MacLennan’s pass but, instead of taking the shot, he opted to square the ball across goal and Penicuik cleared.

Visiting right-back Dougie Cunnison produced a strike Kelbie would’ve been proud of on 53 minutes as he struck low into the far corner past Christie to level after the ball had broken out to him from a Mark Tyrrell block.

The match had a typical cup-tie nature as play swept from end to end with chances aplenty for either side to take the lead, which the visitors duly seized – striker Ryan McCallum converting from the spot after he had been hauled down by Ruari MacLennan.

Their lead lasted just a minute, however, as a long ball upfield wasn’t dealt with by Penicuik and Strickland took possession before slipping in strike partner Kelbie, who found the far corner.

Kelbie should have been walking away with the match ball, but missed the target completely on 70 minutes after Roddy MacLennan had strode through the heart of the midfield and spread it out to the frontman.

The tie looked set for penalties until Ruari MacLennan produced a moment of magic to curl into the top corner from inside the area with five minutes remaining after good work from Kelbie set him up.

Linlithgow Rose: Christie, Thom, McKillen, Tyrrell, Ovenstone, Ruari MacLennan, Kelly, Batchelor, Strickland, Kelbie, Roddy MacLennan.

Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, Cunnison, McDermott, White, Young, Burrell (Patterson), Ross, Gay, McCallum, Killin (Bunyan), Janczyk.