Jonny Stewart has vowed that Bonnyrigg Rose will use the devastation of Saturday’s crushing 5-0 Scottish Junior Cup fifth-round loss as their inspiration to go on and lift the Super League title.
Rose were well beaten by West Super League leaders Pollok in a tie between two in-form sides that was widely expected to be closely contested.
The New Dundas Park men went into the match buoyed by a 19-game unbeaten run which had taken them to the top of the Super League. In addition, they had kept three consecutive cleans sheets in their previous three games, but they had no answer to a ruthless Pollok side.
The five-goal mauling was the worst-possible birthday present for former Hearts midfielder Stewart, who turned 26 on Friday. He said: “We didn’t turn up right from the start. I don’t know if it was to do with not having a game for three weeks but credit to Pollok, they came out the traps flying and got the goal.
“We were kind of chasing it from there and it just wasn’t our day, unfortunately.
“We never turned up and we let ourselves, the committee and the supporters down. We’re hurting but we’ll use this as motivation not to have a feeling like this again, hopefully for the rest of the season.
“We’re still top of the league, so we’ve got that and the other cups to concentrate on now. We’ll use this as motivation to kick on.
“We’ve been on a great run and this is maybe a bit of a reality check for us now, but it will give us the kick up the backside we need.
“The league is in our own hands. Although we’re disappointed, we’ve still got a lot to play for and we just need to get our heads up again.”
The match looked in doubt just 15 minutes before kick-off as, despite passing an early morning pitch inspection, heavy rain left one corner of the pitch sodden. However, referee Steven Reid gave it the go-ahead.
Rose threatened after nine minutes but Pollok keeper Jordan Longmuir came out to clutch Adam Nelson’s cross as home captain Ross Archibald waited to pounce.
The visitors went ahead five minutes later though, when experienced striker David Winters, formerly of Dundee United and Ross County, headed home Kevin Bradley’s cross from the right. Midfielder Nelson then flashed a free-kick across the face of goal, but no-one in red and white could find the required touch.
Paul Gallacher should have doubled Pollok’s lead from a corner when well placed but he didn’t connect at all with his attempt.
Home striker Wayne McIntosh, who declared himself fit before kick-off despite sustaining a nasty foot injury last week, came close to a leveller before the break but Longmuir stopped his header creeping in at the far post.
McIntosh then tried to square for Lewis Turner six yards out at the start of the second half but Longmuir did well to stop the cut back for what would have been a certain goal.
Attacking midfielder Carlo Monti was the main dangerman for the visitors and his free-kick after 60 minutes wasn’t dealt with by home goalkeeper Michael Andrews, who could only parry it, and Gallacher was on hand to rifle the loose ball high into the net.
Pollok made sure of the win three minutes later as they broke on the counter and Monti found Winters, who fired though the legs of Andrews.
Rose tried to find a way back into the tie, with McIntosh’s effort from outside the area bringing out a save from Longmuir, but their efforts were in vain as Pollok struck again. Monti’s corner-kick found centre-back Gallacher free in the box and he met the cross with a first-time volley which flew into the top corner.
Derek Hepburn completed the rout with ten minutes left as he netted from close range after Andrews had stopped 41-year-old Robbie Winters from lifting the ball over him.
Rose boss Robbie Horn hopes the result will serve as a wake-up call for his side.
He said: “We went chasing the game and we left ourselves open at the back. We need to pick ourselves up.
“It’s a wake-up call for everybody, myself included. I’ve told them to bottle their anger up and use that as motivation between now and the end of the season to make sure we win something.
“There’s no reason why we can’t go on another run. The players just need to show confidence and belief and hopefully we can get ourselves going again.”
Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews, Horne, Donaldson, Stewart, Moyes, Hoskins, Archibald (Gray), Turner, McIntosh (Drummond), Nelson (McLaren), McGachie.
Pollok: Longmuir, Hanlon (McLennan), Sideserf, Gallacher, Walker, Frye, Bradley, Williamson, David Winters (Robbie Winters), Monti (Hepburn), McKenzie.