Bonnyrigg Rose laid down a statement of intent as they crushed Super League title rivals Linlithgow Rose 4-1 at Prestonfield to take pole position in the race for top spot.
The visitors, who this week signalled their intentions to move into the pyramid system with the hope of one day becoming a league club, demonstrated their quality with an exceptional performance.
Goals from Lee Currie, Ross Gray, Wayne McIntosh and Lewis Turner secured the spoils for Bonnyrigg, who were pegged back by Lithgae with an equaliser from Ruari MacLennan.
Bonnyrigg goalkeeper Michael Andrews, back between the sticks for the second game running after reclaiming his No.1 jersey from Bryan Young, reckoned they scored their goals at the right time considering the pressure Linlithgow put them under for much of the second half.
“We just took our chances when they came and we scored at the right times,” said Andrews. “Going 1-0 up and them getting themselves back into it took us ten minutes to get going again thereafter, but wee Rosco [Ross Gray] scoring that goal was different class.
“We knew the second half was going to be difficult, we knew it was going to be hard. We just had to battle, deal with any crosses and any shots and just hit them when we could, and we did that again.
“They were comfortable, they had the ball and possession but they didn’t really trouble us as such. We’ve got ten [league] games to go now, we just need to take each one at a time.”
Spending so much of the season sat on the substitutes’ bench has been frustrating for Andrews, even more so given he was first-choice keeper the past two seasons.
Andrews continued: “Me and Bry will push each other right through. He got the nod at the start of the season. I’ve pushed him and it’s turned, so he’ll push me now to keep the No.1 shirt. We’re both happy for each other to do well - it’s good to see that, you don’t always get that with goalies at clubs. People sometimes hate each other.
“It was frustrating, it would be the same at any club having played the last couple of seasons then not playing at the start of the season, but it’s one of those things in football. You aren’t always going to play. I was never looking for a move away from the club. I’m happy with the club and happy where I am - everyone looks after me and never once did I think, ‘I need to get myself away’.”
The home side suffered a blow in the opening minute when Kyle Turnbull was forced off with an ankle injury. That knocked Linlithgow a little and they were still recovering when Currie curled home one of his trademark free-kicks on seven minutes from 25 yards out.
The Prestonfield men were level just four minutes later, however, with Bonnyrigg captain Kerr Young hesitant when attempting to clear on the edge of the centre circle, allowing MacLennan to take possession, go round Andrews and roll the ball into the empty net.
Bonnyrigg were back ahead ten minutes before the break, though, as Gray – up against his former club – clipped a delightful effort over home goalkeeper Darren Hill to complete a fine team move.
Linlithgow improved after half-time, but despite enjoying the majority of possession and territory, they didn’t look capable of breaching a resistant Bonnyrigg rearguard.
Substitute McIntosh ensured the three points for the red Rose when he headed home Currie’s corner-kick on 73 minutes, before Turner soon made it four after being played in by former Linlithgow man Adam Nelson.
Home boss Mark Bradley hasn’t given up on securing the league crown yet, but admits Bonnyrigg have the look of champions.
He said: “It wasn’t good enough. Bonnyrigg look like a team who are geared up and look like they could go and win the league. They were the better team, no doubt about it.
“We shouldn’t be losing 4-1 at home to anybody.
“They managed the game better and they soaked up pressure when they had to. We’ve still got a lot of games to play, so we’ll just need to keep our chins up.”
Linlithgow Rose: Hill, Gray, Turnbull (Devine), MacKenzie, Leiper (Sloan), Whelan, Batchelor, MacLennan, Strickland, Coyne, Ronald.
Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews, Horne, Hoskins, Young, Moyes, Stewart (Janczyk), Gray (Turner), Nelson, McGachie, Wilson, Currie (McIntosh).