Bo’ness United boss Stevie Kerrigan was relieved to clinch victory as the Newtown Park men stretched nine points clear of the Super League relegation zone to continue their 2018 unbeaten home record.
Marty Wright’s first-half header proved enough for the hosts who squandered several other great chances in torrid conditions with visiting goalkeeper Keiron Renton keeping Star in it.
The visitors might have sneaked an equaliser as they staged a late rally, but thankfully for Kerrigan his side didn’t concede and they can now turn their attention to this Saturday as they host Hurlford United in a home Scottish Junior Cup quarter-final.
“I was delighted to get the win, it was just one of those games that you just like to see get tucked away,” said Kerrigan. “The most important thing was we got the three points.
“It certainly wasn’t a classic. Newtongrange were right in the game until the very end. I thought we had chances to maybe go and get a second, third or maybe a fourth goal. When it’s 1-0 you always feel on edge and that’s the way it was right until the very end – I never thought the game was won.
“I can’t wait for Saturday now, everyone is looking forward to it. It’s quite exciting, hopefully the supporters get behind us as know how valuable that can be.”
Star had knocked four past Forfar West End on their last Super League trip and started positively despite playing against the wind in the opening half. Visiting winger Kenny O’Brien appealed for a penalty after going down under goalkeeper Andrew Murphy’s challenge in seven minutes but referee Peter Stuart waved play on.
On-loan Raith Rovers kid Ryan Stevenson came closest to opening the scoring for Bo’ness five minutes later when he fired just wide of the post.
The home supporters didn’t have to wait long for the opener though, as David Gray swept the ball in for Wright to head home at the front post on 16 minutes.
Star were living dangerously as Bo’ness went in search of a second – Neil Lowton doing well to clear off the line from Marc Kelly’s goalbound strike.
The visitors have relied on left-back Dale O’Hara for much of their goals this season – the free-kick specialist their current top goalscorer, but he couldn’t muster some magic when presented with the opportunity to level from a dead ball 20 yards out as he blazed the ball over the bar.
Ryan Porteous spurned another great chance for Star shortly after the interval when he knocked the ball wide from O’Brien’s low cross.
Bo’ness substitute Nicky Prentice, one of six signings made by Kerrigan since he took over in January, looked a big threat when he came on.
He almost made an instant impact as he skipped past Sean Melvin down the left and ran clear down the flank but he couldn’t find a team-mate.
Porteous then unleashed a strike from distance which Murphy did well to turn round the post, as Star moved to a front three. Bo’ness striker Allan MacKenzie should have wrapped up the three points when put through by Ryan Millar, but Renton saved well, before Prentice cut the ball back for MacKenzie to get a second bite but he completely missed the ball from just six yards out.
Star boss Stevie McLeish, who is serving a six-game touchline ban along with assistant Murray Hunter, said: “On the balance of play we probably deserved a point. When I see my team performing like that given the situation with myself and Murray and the way they are actually standing up and taking responsibility for each other and themselves, I’m really, really pleased.”
Bo’ness United: Murphy, McCulloch, Holgan, Campbell, Gibb, Gemmell, Stevenson (Jacobs), Gray, Wright (Millar), MacKenzie, Kelly (Prentice)
Newtongrange Star: Renton, Swaney, Mitchell (Smith), Melvin, Lowson, O’Hara, McNaughton (K Scott), Porteous, Wilson, O’Brien, Hunter