Bo’ness United manager Allan McGonigal hailed the performance of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Kieran Anderson as his side took a giant step towards the Super League title with a 3-0 win over St Andrews.
With long-time leaders Newtongrange Star crashing to their third defeat in a row away to Ballingry Rovers, Bo’ness moved top on goal difference, but have three games in hand over the New Victoria Park men.
McGonigal admitted the destination of the title was in United’s hands, with ten league games remaining for his side, while he commended Anderson, pictured below, for an attacking performance full of vigour.
He said: “Over the piece, I’m delighted. It’s another big three points for us. We’ve heard the news from elsewhere, so everything is in our favour now.
“St Andrews are just off the back of two great results and they came here with confidence and probably looked to cause another upset, but we scored goals at the right times.
“Young Kieran has bags of ability and he was brave with his goal at the end, so we are delighted for him.
“He has a wee spark about him and has something different. He’s learning the game and he’ll only get better, that’s for sure.”
The hosts were up against it in the first half as they played into the wind and they could’ve fallen a goal behind after just three minutes had it not been for an excellent stop from goalkeeper Mark Peat, who got down well to stop Jamie Mackie’s strike.
Later in the half, St Andrews’ Barry Sibanda came close with a free-kick from 35 yards out which whistled just wide of the post, much to the relief of Peat. With the home side struggling to carve out much, it was the visitors who looked more likely to open the scoring. However, after a quick breakaway on 36 minutes, Bo’ness did just that.
Anderson did all the work down the right as he drove at St Andrews full-back Kevin McMullen before outstripping him with his pace, and he delivered to the front post to Steven Hislop. Hislop’s first-time effort was blocked, but it fell back to him kindly and, with the hallmark of a confident striker, he audaciously backheeled into the bottom corner. St Andews had the ball in the back of the net just before half-time, only for it to be ruled out by referee Gavin Ross, who adjudged striker Sibanda to have impeded Peat in the air – just the first of many decisions which were to infuriate the visitors.
Back from injury, and making his first start of this year, Bo’ness captain Chris Donnelly was close to doubling his side’s lead on 50 minutes. St Andrews keeper Richard Cargill had fumbled on the edge of his box and Donnelly got a shot away, only for defender James Drummond to get back on the line in time to head clear.
The home side did double their advantage on 60 minutes from the penalty spot. Referee Ross adjudged St Andrews defender Craig Wedderburn to have handled inside the box and he pointed to the spot. Robert Sloan dispatched his effort into the net.
Bo’ness continued to put pressure on the visitors in search of a third, and they got it with three minutes to go. Substitute Darren Gribben whipped in an inch-perfect cross from the right wing, which Anderson rose to meet first in an aerial challenge with Cargill, and he ran off to take the acclaim, while St Andrews protested to the referee as they felt Anderson had impeded Cargill.
St Andrews boss Gus Malone made his feelings clear on decisions he felt didn’t go his side’s way, although he was full of praise for his side.
He said: “The standard of refereeing is shocking in this league. Some of those decisions there were unbelievable and it seems to be every week against our team.
“I have nothing but gratitude towards the boys. For the past three of four weeks they have been outstanding. I can’t ask for any more from them. Until it’s impossible for us to stay up we’ll keep on fighting.”
Bo’ness United: Peat, Snowdon, Devine, Murphy, Hunter, Scott, Walker, Sloan (Jaconelli), Hislop (Miller), Donnelly (Gribben), Anderson. Subs:Campbell, Wallace.
St Andrews United: Cargill, Seely, McMullen, Wedderburn, Drummond, Patrick, Lee Sibanda (Port), Mackie (Sutherland), McInnes, Kedela (Buchan), Barry Sibanda. Subs: McEwan, McGuire.