Late strikes from Mark Neil and Douglas Pettigrew sealed a 4-2 away win for Bathgate Thistle over Victoria Loco in the Ian McDonald Cup second round at Saughton.
After the hosts twice fought back to level the scores in the game it seemed extra time was likely with ten minutes of the encounter to go. But two well-worked goals on the counter for Bathgate were enough to win them the game as the West Lothian side dug deep late on.
The hosts looked the more likely to progress with the amount of chances they created but Bathgate held firm at the back and built on their defensive prowess to progress in the competition.
Loco came out of the blocks flying and almost took the lead with five minutes on the clock. Debutant Pieyam Khosrowpour shook off his marker on the left before striking an effort at the near post, but it was matched by Gordon Clark in the Bathgate goal.
A minute later, and with their first chance, the visitors took the lead. Euan McCraw timed his run down the left to receive a through pass before he cut onto his right and curled the ball into the far corner. The away team’s tenacity in front of goal was to be a recurring theme throughout the cup tie.
It was to be a short-lived lead however as the hosts persevered and didn’t take long to respond. Seventeen minutes into the affair, Darren Keith played a lovely pass with the outside of his foot to Khosrowpour and, one-on-one with the keeper, he squared the ball to Shaun Dunn who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net.
Khosrowpour came close again to bagging his first goal for Loco when he hit a low, driven shot from the edge of the area, only to be foiled again by Clark between the sticks.
Clark denied the No.19 yet again on the stroke of half-time with an instinctive save one-on-one to keep his side on level terms.
Bathgate continued to sit back and play on the counter-attack at the resumption following the interval. With Loco bodies forward they got the ball up the park with urgency to Mark Neil and he found the net at the second attempt with a header to restore his side’s lead.
It didn’t knock the home side’s spirit, however, and they again fought back to make it 2-2. After Shaun Dunn won his side a corner, Robert Dunn whipped the ball in to find Brian Ferry and he leapt high to tower in a header from five yards.
With 80 minutes on the clock the next goal was crucial and Bathgate once again showed composure in the final third to take the lead for a third time.
After working hard to get back into the tie, the Loco defence were momentarily caught napping, allowing Neil to bag a second when he sprinted through on goal before placing an effort into the bottom left corner.
The hosts pushed bodies forward late on as they looked to take the game to extra time. Minutes after conceding, Khosrowpour thought he had finally had his efforts rewarded when he headed in at the back post but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Loco were in desperate search of another equaliser but it was to be too much of an ask as the Bathgate back four stood firm. In added time and with Loco bodies forward, the visitors took advantage, hitting them on the counter through Pettigrew to make it 4-2.
Victoria Loco: Kevin Dunn, Shaun Dunn, Robert Dunn, John Scott, Raymond Singleton, Brian Ferry, Craig Spalding, Danny Glancy, Omar Ali, Thomas Connor, Chris Keir, Stuart Batten, Darren Keith, Pieyam Khosrowpour.
Bathgate Thistle: Drew Anderson, David Bell, Dean Byle, Gordon Clark, Neil Davey, Barrie Lewis, Frankie Love, Euan McCraw, Alan McDonald, Jonathan MacLeod, Glen McMahon, Mark Neil, Scott Nisbet, Douglas Pettigrew, Michael Tugman.