Bonnyrigg Rose boss hails team's resilience after coming close to upsetting Falkirk

Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn praised his team’s resilience after a 1-1 draw with Falkirk in the Premier Sports Cup which gives the Lowland League champions an outside chance of qualifying for the last 16.

The League 1 visitors picked up an extra point at New Dundas Park after winning the penalty shootout 4-2 at the of 90 minutes, but despite the disappointing end Horn was proud of the way his team hauled themselves back into the game after being on the ropes for the first half hour.

He said: “As the half went on we grew into the game and second half I thought we put in a really good performance and could have sneaked it at the end as well.”

Callum Morrison, by far Falkirk’s biggest threat on the night, put the League 1 visitors in front, but Lewis Turner equalised for Rose with a penalty before half time. The second half could have gone either way, Rose nearly winning it in injury time when Conar Doan was denied by Falkirk keeper PJ Morrison.

Bonnyrigg Rose goalscorer Lewis Turner challenges Falkirk's Steve Hetherington at New Dundas Park. Joe Gilhooley LRPS

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Rose keeper Michael Andrews saved Callum Morrison’s spot kick in the shoot-out, but George Hunter’s effort was also kept out and Kevin Smith skied his attempt over the bar to give Falkirk what could be a crucial bonus point.

“Penalties are a lottery,” added Horn, who made a number of changes to his team as he continues building towards the League 2 opener at home to Forfar a week on Saturday.

He continued: “I’m disappointed because we put so much into that second half.

“They started really well and played with real intensity. We just had to dig in and you’re going to have to do that against full-time teams.

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“Their movement was causing us problems, even though they didn’t really cut us open. We had a break in play and I told them just to dig in, see it out and see it through, but the players took it on themselves.”

Rose still have outside chance of qualifying from their group with victory away to Morton on Saturday, underlining just how competitive they have been in this competition against higher-level opponents.

Just like they did against Hibs, they made a slow start but refused to buckle, clawed their way back into it and almost snatched victory in injury time.

Falkirk dominated possession for the first half hour and led thanks to Morrison’s ninth-minute free-kick. Right-footed, it was struck with precision rather than power from prime position just outside the box and found the bottom corner low to Andrews’ right.

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Rose kept a decent enough shape but found themselves pinned back by Falkirk’s slick passing and fluid movement. The Midlothian side stuck to their task, however, and turned the tide by managing to upset the League 1 side’s rhythm in the last 15 minutes of the half.

They did so by making the game ugly, getting in Falkirk’s faces and pushing up. Playing more direct balls into targetman Kieran McGachie, Rose forced a series of corners and free-kicks to change the momentum and put the visitors under pressure.

It paid off in a crowded box when captain Jonny Stewart’s attempted cross struck Morrison on the hand from close range. Turner dispatched the penalty with confidence.

The Rose midfielder had a claim for another handball in the box turned down early in the second-half, Rose picking up where they left off. There was more aggression and intensity about the home team after the break. They played to their strengths, refusing to let Falkirk dictate.

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But the visitors remained dangerous, the lively Morrison against highlighting just that by outmuscling Dean Brett on the left flank and cutting in to pull out a smart stop from Andrews.

Falkirk had a good penalty claim of their own turned down when Gary Oliver fell to the turf after skipping past Doan.

With both teams going for the win and the game stretching out, it got a bit spicy at times and there were chances at either end.

Andrews made another fine stop to deny Morrison from distance, but the best chance fell to Rose summer signing Doan in an injury-time counter-attack. After a neat one-two with Hunter his shot was superbly saved by PJ Morrison, taking the group tie into penalties.

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It would have been the icing on the cake for Doan after a man-of-the-match performance at left centre-back in his first full 90 minutes in a Rose shirt. There will be many more to come.

Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews; Young, Grigor, Doan; Brett, R Gray (Martyniuk 90), Stewart, Hall (Smith 66), Barrett; McGachie (Hunter 70), Turner (Connolly 70). Subs: Weir, Wilson, Hancock, Khan, S Gray, Smith.

Falkirk: Morrison; Mackie, McGinn, Henderson (Sneddon 22); Williamson, Yeats, Nesbitt (Wilson 74), Hetherington (McGuffie 63), McCann; Morrison, Oliver. Subs: Martin, Ross, Connolly, Carroll.

Referee: Ross Hardie

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Attendance: 1,500