Junior Cup: Post-match jolly boosts Bonnyrigg morale

Ruaridh Donaldson, right, battles with Hibs' John McGinn at Tynecastle
Ruaridh Donaldson, right, battles with Hibs' John McGinn at Tynecastle
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Ruaridh Donaldson hopes a post-match social debrief can be the catalyst to putting Bonnyrigg Rose’s Scottish Junior Cup dream back on track.

The Rose squad gathered for an Easter Sunday jolly to put their semi-final first leg disappointment behind them after a 1-0 defeat by Glenafton Athletic in New Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Donaldson, usually a left-back, who has enjoyed an attacking role for Rose in recent weeks, believes their Sunday afternoon session could be key to restoring morale ahead of a do-or-die second leg at New Dundas Park tomorrow.

“Going out on Sunday was really big for us because we’re a really tight-knit bunch,” said Donaldson.

“It was good to refresh the batteries and then training on Tuesday was brilliant, it was probably the best session we’ve had this year. It’s given us a fresh impetus to realise we can’t turn up to games and win and we do really need to perform on the day if we want to win the league and the Scottish Junior Cup – these things don’t just happen.

“The boys were on a bit of downer after the result, but these sort of social events help to reset everybody’s mindset. You have a wind-up about the game and everybody regroups and we go again on Saturday.”

Rose headed back to Midlothian last weekend just relieved to be a goal behind after the first leg; a deficit which isn’t insurmountable as they bid to reach the final for the first time since they last won it in 1978.

Having conceded in the second half after a misplaced pass, Robbie Horn’s men were fortunate not to go two behind after a controversial spot-kick was awarded. Defender Ewan Moyes was shown a red card in the aftermath as Rose players directed their fury at referee Lloyd Wilson before the home side’s penalty came back off the post.

Donaldson continued: “The sending off changed the game quite a lot and at that point we were happy to take the 1-0 defeat and get back to Bonnyrigg with our tails between our legs a little bit.

“During the game we had the feeling we were getting the bare end of the decisions, especially the big ones with regards to their penalty then the sending off. They missed the penalty so it didn’t have a massive impact on the final score.

“A few of us had a bit to say after that decision so I think it could’ve been any one of four or five who got the red card. He’s a pretty chilled guy and doesn’t tend to lose his head that often so I think that shows the extent to which we were frustrated with the referee that he lost his cool in that moment.

“Coming off we were relieved it was only 1-0. We didn’t do ourselves justice in the second half. Latterly for maybe the last five minutes we had a bit of pressure but we didn’t really create that much, which is unusual for us because we normally score quite often.”

Donaldson, who has yet to commit himself to a new contract with Rose while his work situation is still unclear for next season, is confident with their current home record and a large Bonnyrigg contingent behind them, that they can turn the tie on its head.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we are good at home, we’ve only been beaten by Kelty at home this year and that was in August, so we’ve had a good run of results. We expect a big home crowd and that will be brilliant, we always love that. We fancy our chances, we let ourselves down previously but it’s only half-time in the tie.

“I’ve told Bonnyrigg that as soon as I get a job then my position will be clearer. With my consultant work I am UK flexible, so I could conceivably be working in London next year. Signing a contract at the moment is not really at the forefront of my mind. If I’m in Edinburgh I’ll be here, if not then we’ll move on.”