Newtongrange Star boss Alan Miller tinkered with his tactics and was pleased with the outcome as his side avoided a potential cup shock away to Premier League outfit Bathgate Thistle in the first round of the East of Scotland Cup.
New signing Lewis Coult was handed his debut up front alongside the returning Kris Renton from suspension and the duo instantly hit it off together, with Coult bagging his first goal for Star and Renton notching a double.
Former Hibs youngster Jack Wilson fitted in just behind the two strikers for the visitors and was a stand out, earning praise off his manager, who admitted he had been harsh on the midfielder who has featured fleetingly since joining from Haddington Athletic last summer.
“He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” said Miller.
“Last season was unfortunate for him because he arrived at the start of the season with an injury and the team started the season very well last year, so as a result he couldn’t get in and have a run of games. “I’ve maybe been a wee bit harsh on him, a wee bit hard on him, but this time around he will definitely get an opportunity, he’s a quality football player.”
Striker Coult is back in the Juniors after over four years in the Senior game and he instantly showed his experience to kick-off the move that led to the opening goal after nine minutes.
There didn’t appear to be much on as the big forward took hold of a high ball, but he looked around him, spotted former Hearts youngster Craig Thomson was making his way up the right wing and cushioned a header down to his feet. Thomson then instantly found Renton with a delicate chip over the defence and he slid a first-time finish under goalkeeper Gavin McQuillan.
The home side looked dangerous on the counter-attack, but it was Star who grabbed a second goal after 29 minutes.
Wilson, who was given a lot of freedom in his advanced midfield role, found Coult as Bathgate failed to deal with another ball over the top of their defence and Coult turned his marker inside and sent a low shot which sneaked into the net at McQuillan’s near post.
Star continued to dominate after the interval and got their third goal after 61 minutes, with Thomson’s driven ball into from the left flank finding Renton at the backpost and he prodded home from close range.
Renton could have had his hat-trick six minutes later after great interplay with strike partner Coult on the edge of the box, but saw his shot cannon back off the post and away to safety.
Bathgate Thistle: McQuillan, MacDonald, Nicoll, Brady, Macissac, Baird, MacLeod, Malone (Mangan), Jack, Jaconelli, Harris (McGurk).
Newtongrange Star: Kieron Renton, McManus, Noble (Murray), Tolmie, Dunn, Currie, Thomson, Cherrie, Kris Renton, Coult, Wilson (Motion).
Cup Round Up
SUPER LEAGUE sides went goal crazy in the first round of the East of Scotland Cup.
Linlithgow Rose ran out 9-0 winners at home to Crossgates while Bo’ness United hit eight without reply against Coupar Angus, Mark Cowan grabbing a hat-trick. Bonnyrigg won 6-0 away at Scone, Wayne McIntosh getting a treble, while Whitburn were 9-1 winners at Forfar Albion. Musselburgh’s woes continued with 3-1 defeat at Broughty.
Broxburn ran out 4-1 winners over Hill of Beath; Penicuik won 4-1 at Glenrothes and South League new boys Easthouses Lily beat Armadale 3-2. Premier League outfit Haddington continued their good run with a 3-1 win at Newburgh while Dalkeith beat West Calder 4-0. Arniston Rangers beat Edinburgh 1-0 while Tranent saw off East Craigie 5-1.