Stand-in Bonnyrigg Rose captain Kerr Young reckons the New Dundas Park men are better equipped this season to mount a serious challenge for the Scottish Junior Cup after defeating rivals Newtongrange Star 5-2.
The former Dunfermline Athletic centre-half led by example at the heart of the Rose defence with a workmanlike performance that replicated the efforts of his club’s committee and their supporters who worked tirelessly all week to ensure the fourth-round clash defeated the elements.
Young never let anything past him against their local rivals – long after the shovels were put away and the covers, which were laid down on the pitch on Friday afternoon, lay stacked around the periphery of the surface after their removal by a 20-strong army before sunrise.
A dominant performance over their near neighbours in just one of two Junior Cup ties to survive the weather ensured a last-16 spot for Rose who are desperate to be in contention come June after reaching the semi-finals last season.
“We’ve got a good squad here and we’re going to try and win it this season,” said Young. “We’ve got a good enough team to win it so we should go far in it. We were unlucky last year, we should have probably beaten Glenafton.
“Last year we were good, but this year I think we’re a lot better. We’ve got so many players that can play in different positions and we can change to different formations. We’ve got experience all over the park as well and with boys coming back from injury we are only going to get stronger. Hopefully we can kick on and keep the unbeaten run going.”
Young’s first half thunderbolt, a terrific volley which flew in via the crossbar, was the pick of their five goals. The defender joked it was no surprise to him because he’s done it many times before.
“I do it all the time in training, it’s just one of those things. I just saw it coming down from the sky. I didn’t think it was going to come down enough to go in, but luckily it went in.”
Rose boss David White paid tribute to those who put their all into making the game possible, with a bumper crowd of 1063 the club’s reward for making the pitch playable.
“The effort from Charlie [Kirkwood, chairman] and the committee has been outstanding,” said White. “From Wednesday onwards as soon as the sunlight went up until the sunlight went away, they’ve been clearing snow. It’s not been an easy task and there will be a few of them that are sore, but certainly the result will make up for it. It doesn’t sound much but it’s a big job to put covers on the pitch.
“There was no other games on in the league, even Senior games were getting called off so it just shows you how much effort was put in.”
Star goalkeeper Keiron Renton had done his best to keep Rose at bay with three fine saves in the opening 15 minutes, but he was helpless to prevent former Newtongrange captain Lee Currie opening the scoring. The midfielder shot after Renton had stopped Ross Gray’s half-volley from point-blank range, with the keeper unsighted.
Star could only half clear a Currie free-kick and Young pounced to ruthlessly make it 2-0 on 24 minutes. It looked an uphill battle from there on for Stevie McLeish’s side, but they pulled a goal back on 38 minutes when left-back Dale O’Hara’s low free-kick nestled in the bottom corner.
Their hopes were crushed just two minutes later, however, as Dean Brett crossed for Keith Lough to head in.
Star improved after the interval and pulled another goal back through O’Hara on 74 minutes, this time curling an unstoppable 30-yard free-kick which was placed perfectly into the top corner past Bryan Young.
They were undone once more, however, as Keiran McGachie went down in the box under Scott Swaney’s challenge. Referee Matthew MacDermid pointed straight to the spot, incensing Star assistant manager Murray Hunter who was ordered away from the technical area and continued to protest at the decision.
Neil Martynuik dispatched the penalty when it was eventually taken, and Brett’s composed finish with two minutes remaining wrapped up a rosey afternoon for the hosts.
Star boss McLeish felt they lost the game after their performance in the opening period.
He said: “You come to your local rivals who are the benchmark club in the area anyway, so it was always going to be tough.
“A three goal margin was probably a fair reflection on the day given our first-half performance. I’m disappointed but we set out to get to this round, so we made that goal.”
Bonnyrigg Rose: B Young, Brett, Martynuik, K Young, Horne, Janczyk (Stewart), Gray, Nelson (Hoskins), Lough (McGachie), McIntosh, Currie.
Newtongrange Star: Renton, Swaney, Mitchell, Melvin, O’Hara, K Scott, Forster, Bracks, Osborne (McNaughton), Lally (Porteous), O’Brien.