East of Scotland play-offs: Bonnyrigg Rose beat Penicuik to set up decider at Broxburn
Bonnyrigg Rose kept the East of Scotland title play-offs alive with a 2-1 win over Penicuik Athletic, who arrived at New Dundas Park knowing victory would see them crowned champions.
Conference B winners Rose are now in the driving seat ahead of the third play-off match on Saturday, which sees them visit Broxburn Athletic, who lost 3-2 to Penicuik last Saturday. Bonnyrigg will head for Albyn Park knowing that should they avoid defeat they will line up in next season’s Lowland League, subject to obtaining an SFA licence. Broxburn must win by two clear goals against Bonnyrigg to take the crown. Penicuik, meanwhile, can only come out on top if Broxburn win Saturday’s match 1-0 or 2-1.
It was the visitors Penicuik who were first to threaten in front of a bumper 1012 crowd last night when defender Greg Page’s effort at the back post was deflected wide in the second minute after an early period of pressure.
Lewis Turner then tried his luck from the edge of the box for the hosts when he fired just wide from the edge of box, the ball flashing inches past the far post.
Penicuik captain Calum Connolly had the next decent chance when his deflected strike bounced off the top of the bar to the relief of home goalkeeper Bryan Young.
Rose midfielder Lee Currie brought Penicuik goalkeeper Robert Watt into action for the first time after being set up by former Cuikie frontman Keith Lough, with Watt doing well to hold his strike.
Just over a minute later, Rose were celebrating the opener with Currie heading across and into the far corner from Turner’s pinpoint cross.
The hosts had a huge chance to double their lead just before the interval when Turner was released down the left and he cut back for Ross Gray – who surely thought his shot was destined to hit the back of the net – but Watt flung himself in front of the attempt to make a terrific save.
Penicuik knew a victory would see them crowned East of Scotland champions but they went further behind after 63 minutes when Kerr Young’s quickly-taken free-kick was taken in by Dean Brett, who drilled a shot across goal and into the far corner past Watt.
Just minutes later, referee Peter Stuart waved away a strong penalty appeal after Kyle Sampson went down in the area, with Penicuik co-manager Kevin Milne sent from the dugout for his protests.
The Cuikie were relying on top goalscorer Wayne McIntosh, featuring for the first time against his former club after leaving last summer after three seasons at the club, to make a difference but he was isolated up front and marshalled comfortably by Rose’s back three of Young, Alan Horne and Ewan Moyes.
Bonnyrigg’s defensive unit was so strong, in fact, that Penicuik failed to come close to testing Young until a minute remaining when substitute Aaron Somerville headed in at the near post, ensuring a nervy finale for the home side which they just came through. Steven Notman was provided with a golden chance in the final minute to take the match to penalties but he hit his effort straight at Young.
Bonnyrigg manager Robbie Horn felt his team deserved their victory.
He said: “We were hanging on towards the end a wee bit. Our game management could have been better. I thought we were the better team, to be honest – I don’t think there was any doubt about that. There was a penalty shout [for Penicuik] which may have been a penalty, but I thought we were the better team.
“They pushed forward once they got their goal and put us under pressure, but we stood tall. We had chances for a second in the first half and I think if we got a second at that point we might’ve won the game more comfortably.”
Penicuik co-boss Tony Begg said: “In the last five minutes, the shackles were off and we pushed Pagey upfront and threw everything at it. We weren’t at our best and we gifted them two goals – they were both poor goals to concede.
“We just need to take our medicine and move on. We can’t fault our players, but it’s not over yet. They’ve still got to play Broxburn on Saturday and we’ll see what happens there. We had a bit of momentum coming into the game but it just wasn’t to be our night.”
Bonnyrigg Rose: B Young, Brett, Brown (Martyniuk), K Young, Moyes, Horne, Turner, Stewart, Lough (McGachie), Currie, Gray (Murrell).
Penicuik Athletic: Watt, Stevenson, Williams (Baptie), Young, Page, Connolly, McCrory-Irving (Somerville), Jones, McIntosh, Notman, Ponton (Sampson).