Bo’ness ready to play catch-up on Newtongrange Star

Bo'ness boss Alan McGonigal has league leaders Newtongrange in his sights. Picture: Gordon McBrearty
Bo'ness boss Alan McGonigal has league leaders Newtongrange in his sights. Picture: Gordon McBrearty
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BO’NESS UNITED manager Alan McGonigal has welcomed his side’s return to Super League business after a string of cup ties as he looks to close the gap on leaders Newtongrange Star.

The Newtown Park side sit third in the Super League, ten points behind Star, but they have four games in hand over the Midlothian outfit, who don’t play in the league this week as they have a Scottish Cup replay against Haddington. Bo’ness haven’t played in the league since a 4-2 win over Ballingry on September 21.

Following a raft of Scottish Cup ties and postponed matches due to Steve Hislop and Chris Donnelly being on international duty with the Scottish Juniors side, McGonigal sees this weekend’s home clash with Broxburn at Newton Park as the perfect way to kick off their pursuit. “Once a big enough gap opens up at the top of the table, it becomes really difficult to claw back the points differential when games are called off in the depths of winter and teams are playing catch up in the spring,” said McGonigal.

“Linlithgow did it [create an early-season gap] last season, and no one came close to overhauling them. Newtongrange also did it in winning the Premier League last season, so it’s vital that we get a win tomorrow and reduce the lead they have. We have to keep in touch with them.

“Newtongrange have few problems with their pitch and get a lot of games on when the winter kicks in. That gives them an advantage over other sides. They have done brilliantly to get the results they have and all credit to them.”

Bo’ness’ cause is further boosted by the fact second-placed Linlithgow also have a Scottish Cup replay and thus can be pegged back. “Linlithgow are only four points ahead of us as well, but they have a replay against Carluke tomorrow, so it’s a chance for us to catch them up as well,” he said. “People try and stress the benefit of having games in hand but I’d much rather have points in the bag and let the chasing pack try and catch us.”

McGonigal isn’t expecting an easy ride against Broxburn, who sit sixth in the league and come off the back of a 7-0 drubbing by Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup last weekend. The Newtown Park outfit don’t have their troubles to seek for Saturday’s clash either, with eight players – Stuart Cairns, Sean Roycroft, Brian Fairbairn, Craig Young, John Millar, Mark Cowan, Steven Weir and Jordan Devanney – out injured.

“Broxburn, no matter any injury worries they may have after last week, will come here to get something from the game,” said McGonigal. “Steve Pittman [the Broxburn manager] and I are tight and there’s a lot of leg pulling between us except on a Saturday. They were up against it last week against the best Junior side I’ve seen so there was no disgrace in their defeat.”

Despite his injury woes, Broxburn boss Pittman is still eyeing three points. “We’re still going to Bo’ness to win this game,” he said. “We go there with a couple of youngsters from our Under-19s so it’ll be a big chance for them to impress and give a good account of themselves. Last week Talbot were on a different planet for any Junior side I’ve seen, so there was no shame in being beaten by a team playing at the top of their game.”

Elsewhere, in the Super League on Saturday, there is another cracking match in prospect at Bonnyrigg between them and Musselburgh. Both sides are in fine form and with no serious injury worries for either side, the supporters should see some good football.

Armadale will have Calum Rarity and Johnny Wilson back from suspension for their game at St Andrews and they’ll be hoping that the home side don’t have last week’s shooting boots on after they recorded an incredible 17-1 win over Banffshire side Whitehills.