Linlithgow Rose captain Colin Leiper admits the Prestonfield men are in a relegation scrap and they’ll need to show more desire if they wish to preserve their Super League status.
The defender pulled no punches after a home performance bereft of any battling qualities on Saturday. Rose succumbed 2-1 at home to a determined Carnoustie side intent on completing the double over their opponents this season.
Regarded as one of Junior football’s giants, Rose haven’t recorded a victory at home in the league since August and sit precariously above the drop zone, just nine points off the foot of the table. They have never been relegated from the top flight.
Leiper’s first-half header had Rose ahead at half-time, but two Gordon McDonald strikes after the break gave the Gowfers all three points.
“I thought in the first half considering we were attacking into a strong wind, we were in control of the game and had more than enough chances to finish the game off,” said Leiper.
“So far this season at Linlithgow, there’s been too many times now where we are deservedly in front and we’ve not looked like conceding, but we go into the second half and lose goals. Is it a fitness thing? We’ve been addressing that. I don’t think it’s that, I think it’s a mental thing. There’s not enough heart and the players need to ultimately take responsibility for that.
“That’s one goal we’ve scored against Carnoustie and we’ve collected zero points in the last two games we’ve played them. No disrespect to Carnoustie but the size of club Linlithgow is, we’ve got to be better than that.
“I don’t think there’s enough people [at the club] that understand the importance of what this club represents and the fact that this club needs success. This club needs to be winning trophies every season and at this moment in time we are well off that.
“We are aware that we are now well in a relegation fight and for a club the size of Linlithgow that’s not good enough. It’s not just the players. It’s the boys that work for the club, the committee and the fans that are coming in – they deserve a lot more than what we’re giving on the park.
“We shouldn’t be in the position we are in, but we are. We need bigger hearts and bigger characters and, at the moment, we aren’t showing enough of that. We’ve got ourselves into this mess and we need to get ourselves out of it.”
Saturday’s performance was as Jekyll and Hyde as it will ever get from Rose. In the first half, they were fluid in attack and didn’t look like being breached at the back. The second half was a total flipside.
The hosts should’ve been out of sight even before Leiper headed in on-loan Cowdenbeath left-back Harvey Swann’s corner a minute before the interval.
Striker Tommy Coyne missed two gilt-edged chances prior to the opener. He looked certain to score from Lewis Small’s cutback only for visiting defender Danny Miller to scamper back and clear off his line, before he was denied by the feet of goalkeeper Alan Cormack when through on goal.
McDonald was presented with his first sight of goal on 58 minutes after Conor Kelly felled Sam Simpson on the edge of the home box. The striker couldn’t have hit the free-kick any cleaner, the ball taking a slight nick off Kelly as it thundered in off the underside of the crossbar with keeper Darren Hill rooted to the spot.
Rose looked the likelier of the two sides to get a second, with new signing, ex-Huddersfield Town striker Liam Coogans, coming closest. But, with 11 minutes remaining, McDonald got his second and what proved to be the winner after Jamie McCabe teed him up and he lashed a low effort home from 20 yards out.
Home boss Todd Lumsden insists his players have to take a “hard look” at themselves ahead of what could be a season-defining trip to Maryhill in the last-16 of the Scottish Junior Cup this Saturday.
He said: “It wasn’t good enough. We need to show a bit more heart and desire. The game should’ve been beyond any kind of comeback – we missed two unbelievable chances and the game should’ve been finished.
“We need to have a hard look at ourselves. If you don’t get points on the board [we’ll be in a relegation scrap] but it’s not what we’re looking at.
“When you’re on the pitch you aren’t thinking about next week. You are thinking ‘I need to be better than the person I’m paying against’ and that didn’t happen. Too many people in a maroon jersey were dominated by people in a blue jersey. You sometimes learn more about teams in defeat than you do in victory because you find out when you’re up against it who really digs in. We’ll reflect on this game and see where we go.”
Linlithgow Rose: Hill, Williams (Thom) Swann, Batchelor, McKenzie, Leiper, Kelly, Muhsin, Coyne, Small (Coogans), Gray (Davidson).
Carnoustie Panmure: Cormack, Buggins, Cook, Miller, Harwood, McGeehan, Urquhart (Smith), McIntosh, McCabe, McDonald (Taylor), Simpson.