Linlithgow Rose boss Mark Bradley fired off a warning to their Super League title rivals after watching his side extend their lead at the top of the table with their eighth win in a row, a 3-0 home success over Hill of Beath.
Bradley was far from happy with his side’s sluggish first-half showing, with Rose only taking control after the visitors went down to nine men in the second half when they had two players sent off in the same flashpoint.
He expects his players to get much better as the season goes on.
Bradley said: “It’s a sign of a team that is wanting to win something. Hopefully we can just keep it going and don’t be slack when we get an opportunity to kick on and we’ve done that the last couple of times, that’s very pleasing.
“We need to be stringing wins like that together to be challenging, because Bonnyrigg and Penicuik will do it, but we know we can do it. I’ll be honest, we’ve not played anywhere near what we can so if the boys can kick on ten, 15 or 20 per-cent then we should be getting more wins.
“It’s very pleasing as a manager and frustrating at the same time, because we are winning and we’re looking hard to beat and we’re scoring enough goals to win a game, but we create so many more chances to win the game easier. There are times when we are on top and we don’t score and put games to bed, but that will come with confidence.”
Rose were well off the pace in the opening period as they struggled to pass the ball with purpose, as their Fife visitors were on top for much of the first half but went in a goal behind after Owen Ronald’s strike was deflected into the net.
Bradley added: “The first 25 minutes were shocking. We weren’t at it at all and to be fair to them, they were the better team. They were at us and their two big strikers caused us problems, but we were slack with our passing and our reaction to balls dropping – we weren’t quick enough.
“We kept our shape and we got ourselves gradually into the game and eventually got the goal just before halftime, so that was pleasing. It was disappointing we never got a few more goals in the end, but I’d have taken 3-0 at the start of the game.”
Beath midfielder Greg Smith should have done better when presented with the opportunity to put his side in front on 13 minutes, but he skied his strike over the bar.
Ronald had Rose’s first sight of goal on 21 minutes when he was picked out by Tommy Coyne, only to send his shot well wide from a tight angle.
Striker Coyne, who is edging ever close to the club goalscoring record set by David Blaikie, would have expected to have done better when Roddy MacLennan’s free-kick landed perfectly for him but he sent his header straight at goalkeeper Stuart Hall.
He could claim an assist four minutes before the break, however, after he picked up the ball following Roddy MacLennan’s desire to win back possession in the Beath area, the ball rebounding off him into Coyne’s path who fed Ronald and saw his shot deflect off Kevin Conners and into the net.
The match took a huge turning point eight minutes after the interval when Aaron Hay saw red for a late challenge on Gary Thom, while team-mate John McCulloch was also sent-off in the aftermath for pushing over Roddy MacLennan.
It took Rose just five minutes to make their extra bodies count as striker Aiden Malone cracked a stunner in off the post from 25 yards.
Coyne added a late third with a composed finish at the back post to add gloss on a scoreline which flattered the hosts.
Linlithgow Rose: Hill, Thom (Gray), Turnbull, McKenzie, Leiper, Shields, Ronald, Ruari MacLennan, Malone (McClair), Coyne, Roddy MacLennan (Batchelor).
Hill of Beath: Hall, Leishman, Grierson (Allan), McCulloch, Conners, Wright, Adamson (Penny), Hay, Elder, Watt (Mitchell), Smith.