Linlithgow Rose boss Gordon Herd blasts players after collapse ends title hopes

Linlithgow Rose boss Gordon Herd read the riot act to his players after a second-half collapse saw them blow a 2-0 half-time home lead against lowly Blackburn United to lose 4-2.

The defeat on Wednesday night officially ended Linlithgow’s chances of winning this season’s East of Scotland Premier Division and also boosted Blackburn’s chances of avoiding relegation.

Linlithgow are now nine points adrift of leaders Tranent and seven behind second-placed Penicuik Athletic with two fixtures left to play against the two title contenders.

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“It was a total Jekyll and Hyde performance,” said Herd of Wednesday’s defeat. “The first half was probably as well as we’ve played all season. I thought we were excellent. But in the second half we conceded an early goal and we just capitulated.

Gordon Herd told his players some home truths after Wednesday night's defeat

"I didn’t like it but I felt I had to call a few boys out after the game because it seems to be the same people that are making mistakes at critical times of games and it’s costing us big style because we seem to be fragile when we lose a goal and go into our shell.

"It’s something we need to address as a management team because it’s happened far too many times on our watch. Players are fragile. It’s a lack of character, a lack of purpose. Some of the boys need to grow up fast as it’s becoming too much of a regular occurrence.”

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Connor McMullan and Mark Stowe put Rose 2-0 up, but the concession of four goals after the interval – including a header from a corner, long-range shot in off a post, penalty after a foul by goalie Dean Shaw and a deflected fourth – swung the game Blackburn’s way.

"I thought the goalkeeper was at fault for at least two of the goals or possibly three,” Herd added.

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Linlithgow’s recent downturn in results – they have lost four of their last eight league games – followed an incredible run when they won 21 matches in a row in league and cup and looked a good bet to land the Premier Division crown and a shot at promotion to the Lowland League.

“It was always going to be a big ask for us to win the league,” added Herd, whose team will face Gala Fairydean Rovers in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final and are also in the League Cup quarter-finals. “We did get a bit of hope but – like I keep saying – are we ready for a Darvel coming from the west to play us? Probably not.

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“These last six or seven games have given us a bit of food for thought as well with the squad. It lets us have a look and we can come back stronger for a title challenge next season.

“We’ve still got a massive season ahead – it could be the most successful season Linlithgow has had in years. We have a cup final to look forward to and a quarter-final to look forward to so the guys could go and win two trophies out of four, which is not a bad achievement. It’s just the disappointment of where we were in the league. We’ve chucked it away. There’s no argument about it.”

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Linlithgow host title-chasing Tranent in their penultimate league fixture of the season this Saturday.

Herd added: “We want to finish the season as positively as we can to set us up for playing in the cup final. So we’ll be picking as strong a team as possible.”