Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn has backed former Spartans prodigy Aaron Murrell to be a success after the 21-year-old striker bagged a double on his debut after coming off the bench in their 3-0 victory over Tynecastle.
The striker was once being touted for the big time after earning a move from Lowland League Spartans to then Ladbrokes Premiership club Dundee United four years ago at the age of just 18 after netting 22 goals in 24 games.
It hasn’t worked out quite as planned, however, for the youngster who has drifted around the lower leagues – latterly with Berwick Rangers, where his attitude was questioned, eventually leading to his release from Shielfield Park last month.
“He’s still a young lad, he’s only 21 years old and he’s obviously been full-time, he had his move to go full-time which didn’t work out for him and he’s just kind of drifted about over that period of time since then,” said Horn. “He’s got to grab this opportunity and show everybody what he is capable of. I’m sure if he does that he will go back up to senior level because he has the talent, there’s no doubt about that.
“He hasn’t featured much recently for Berwick, and to be fair, he never featured much under myself at Berwick as well. It’s different circumstances down at Berwick whereby you are having to defend a lot, and that’s not Aaron’s game. If you put Aaron in a good team he will score goals so I’m sure he will contribute a lot between now and the end of the season.
“He didn’t really show what he was capable of when he came on, he can do better than that, but if he gets in the right positions to score goals that’s what he will do.”
Tynecastle were well in the game, falling behind to Dean Hoskins’ first-half penalty, until Murrell’s two late goals, with the Meggetland club having improved considerably since their last meeting with the East of Scotland B league leaders when they were on the end of a 13-1 defeat.
Bonnyrigg stretched their lead at the top to 13 points and are aiming to get the title wrapped up as quickly a possible. Horn continued: “I thought we were in control of the game throughout. We missed three or four really good chances in the first half, but we got the victory in the end which is the most important thing. Dalkeith were beaten by Tynecastle recently and Bo’ness dropped points here, it’s not an easy place to come as Calum has got them well organised and fighting for each other.
“The boys were a wee bit disappointed with their performances but, as I said to them, the conditions didn’t help and they have improved quite considerably. A lot of guys got some game time, we made six changes to the team so we were a little bit disjointed at times. It was important to give guys game time because they are going to be required to play come the end of the season.”
Tynecastle boss Calum Elliot, who played the full 90 minutes in midfield, praised his players for going toe-to-toe with what he believes is the best team in non-league football in Scotland.
He said: ‘Every week we have improved, we have got players which will be more competitive. There’s no doubt we are planning towards next season. In the first half we probably showed them too much respect, but in the second half we were really good up until the second goal which killed us.
“For 25 minutes or so I thought their heads had went a wee bit, and we got in their faces. We tried to make it a level playing field, but there is no doubting they are probably the best team even including the Lowland League. I genuinely thought we would be the team to go on and get the second goal.”
Tynecastle: Watt, Lynch, Greig, Ferguson, Leslie, Elliot, Fannie, Milligan (Burgess), Hendry, MacDonald (Torrance), Stokes (Helm).
Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews, Brown, Martyniuk, Young, Moyes, Hoskins, Swanson (Turner), Stewart, Lough (Murrell), Nelson, Gray (McGachie).