Linlithgow can't afford silly defeats in title chase

Linlithgow Rose boosted their title hopes by beating champions Kelty Hearts last weekend but midfielder Blair Batchelor says that result will count for nothing if they don't take all three points away to Penicuik Athletic tomorrow.

Friday, 8th April 2016, 6:00 am
Blair Batchelor has scored 13 goals so far this season and is two short of a target set by David McGlynn. Picture: Scott Louden

The Prestonfield outfit are craving their first Super League crown in three years. Bonnyrigg Rose remain the frontrunners, holding a ten-point lead over Linlithgow, although David McGlynn’s side do have a game in hand.

Batchelor insists they have to keep winning games and hope Bonnyrigg slip up somewhere along the line, with the two sides still to face each other at Linlithgow’s Prestonfield ground.

“The gaffer was saying that there’s no point going and beating Kelty in the fashion that we did then letting ourselves down against Penicuik and Tayport the following week. We done it a couple of weeks ago against Hill of Beath which hopefully we could put down to just a blip. The boys will be raring to go on Saturday and we definitely need three points anyway, it’s a must.

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“We knew we really had to win last week, it was massive game for us. Kelty are a good side, but I think we silenced the doubters with our performance on Saturday.

“A lot of folk thought we couldn’t handle a physical side and Kelty are obviously a big, strong, well organised side but we played really well and hopefully that can continue.

“There is a long way to go, we’ve still to play Bonnyrigg and Bo’ness at home and Kelty away so there’s a lot of big games to play. We are definitely still in the hunt, we just need to keep winning games and see what happens. Bonnyrigg need to drop a few points somewhere but you never know, anybody can beat anybody on their day – its wide open still.”

The former Raith Rovers youngster is desperate for success with Rose. He joined from Camelon in the summer of 2014 with the aim of winning trophies, but while his former club won the Fife and Lothians Cup last season, Rose haven’t added to their lengthy honours list since they last won the title.

The diminutive midfielder, who notched his fourth goal in three games in last week’s 3-1 triumph over fellow title hopefuls Kelty, is finding form at the right time. He’s scored eight in total in the league, one behind striker Tommy Coyne, and hopes his purple patch can continue for a while yet.

“I’ve never won the Super League, which is my ambition,” he said. “Before you hang the boots up you want to win the Junior Scottish and the league and that’s why I joined Linlithgow, so hopefully we can push on in the league anyway this year.

“I set myself a target of 15 for the season, the gaffer set us all targets at the start of the season and I’m at 13 now, so hopefully I can beat that target in the next few weeks.”

While Linlithgow are the only side unbeaten on their home park in the league, their away form has been somewhat indifferent, having won just three out of their nine games on the road so far.

The 28-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season but is in discussions over a new deal, wonders where they might be sitting in the table had they picked up more points on their travels.

He continued: “Our away form has kind of let us down, there’s been some really, really poor performances. If we had won more games we would’ve been in a much better position now. We need to replicate our home form away.

“We probably need to win the majority of our remaining games to have a chance of the league. There will be slips along the way from other teams as well, I don’t think Bonnyrigg or Bo’ness will go and win every game between now and the end of the season and I don’t think we will either. There will be twists and turns, we just need to keep our momentum going and win as many as we can.”

Elsewhere, Bo’ness United will be aiming to maintain their two-point lead at the top of the table when they travel to Broughty Athletic. Robbie Horn takes his Bonnyrigg side to Sauchie, while Musselburgh Athletic and Newtongrange Star are at home to Tayport and St Andrews.