Linlithgow boss Danny Smith hailed striker Tommy Coyne after his hat-trick inspired a 4-1 win over Lochee to put Rose back into the Super League title race.
Smith’s men have won their last four league games since the home defeat to league leaders Kelty Hearts, scoring 17 goals in the process. Saturday’s win moved them into third place – eight points behind Kelty but with three games in hand.
And Prestonfield boss Smith was quick too recognise Coyne’s contribution, saying: “It doesn’t matter where Tommy plays, he gets us goals and goals win trophies.
“He is playing wide left just now but has scored 25 goals in 21 appearances this season. He is making a fantastic contribution once again.”
Smith added: “There is still more to come from these players. We once again started slowly on Saturday and lost an early goal. We must get off to a better start than in recent games. Once we get into our stride, we are very difficult to beat, but it’s taking too long from the kick-off.”
The slow start to games from Linlithgow was clear for all to see on a snowy afternoon as they fell behind to a struggling Lochee side packed with youngsters.
Former Rose player Phil Hagen was the scorer after the visitors had broken quickly up-field in the 12th minute. A Scott Gates effort was blocked by goalkeeper Scott Christie but Hagen slotted home the rebound from ten yards. Linlithgow took time to settle but equalised just after the half-hour mark with Coyne grabbing the first of his hat-trick. From an Adam Nelson free kick out on the right, Coyne rose at the back post to power a header into the net.
Rose then took the lead right on the stroke of half-time, Coyne scoring with an angled drive from 15 yards.
It was a better start for Linlithgow after the break, They were more in control and passing the ball well in difficult conditions. They scored their third goal courtesy of another gifted player, Roddy MacLennan. He picked up a short Nelson corner on the left, cut inside and, from the corner of the box, drilled a low strike into the net at the near post.
Linlithgow were well in control now and looking to add to their tally. Lochee’s young goalkeeper, Josh Gray, was a busy man but there was nothing he could do when Linlithgow were awarded a soft penalty after Hagen was adjudged to have pulled back Gary Thom at a corner. To add insult to injury Hagen was deemed to have prevented a goalscoring opportunity and was promptly red carded.
There was only one man who was going to take this penalty and Coyne stepped up to slam the ball past a helpless Gray for Linlithgow’s fourth.
The hat-trick hero said: “I would be delighted if we win the title and, if my goals help, then I’d be even happier. I got three on Saturday but I couldn’t do it without the players around me helping.
“I’ve scored twenty five goals this season and I’m looking for more. There’s still a lot to play for and more goals to come.”
Linlithgow boss Smith added: “It was disappointing to lose at home to Kelty but I asked the players to respond to that defeat and they have in bagfuls.
“Seventeen goals in four games speaks volumes. However, there is still a lot more they can do and that starts at training tonight as we prepare for the trip to Culter in the Scottish Cup.”
Linlithgow Rose: Christie, Wilson (Tyrrell), McKillen (McGowan), Thom, Ovenstone, Nelson, Smith, Shirra, Kelbie, Coyne, Ro MacLennan (Batchelor). Subs: Ru MacLennan, Kelly.
Lochee United: J Gray, Tawse, Kirk, Beadie, Hagen, McWalter, Perry, Cargill (Martin), Scott, Blackwood, Gates (Fraser). Subs: C Gray, S Gray, Fotheringham.