Linlithgow Rose maintained their challenge against Super League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose thanks to Kevin Kelbie’s second-half strike.
The Prestonfield men looked like they might have to settle for a point after three “goals” were chalked off for offside against Penicuik, but they kept plugging away and got their just rewards with the winner after 73 minutes.
Rose remain ten points adrift of Bonnyrigg, although they do have a game in hand, while the two sides are still to face each other in West Lothian.
Hitman Kelbie says they’ve just got to keep picking up victories and be ready to take advantage if Bonnyrigg falter in their remaining eight league matches.
“All we can really do is try and keep winning our games and fingers crossed other teams slip up,” said Kelbie. “They [Bonnyrigg] won, so we start it again this week.
“It was really hard for us because the pitch was very heavy going. It was hard to get the ball down, but the boys did well. We just had to keep working hard and we knew we would create chances.
“We had a few goals ruled out for offside, but we knew it would come in the end and it eventually did.
“It just dropped nicely for me and I just cut across it with my left foot aiming for the far corner and lucky enough it went in.”
Former Camelon man Kelbie is flourishing as a result of a regular run in the team, with Saturday’s strike his sixth in six games. He has had to bide his time for much of his Linlithgow career so far with injuries hampering his performances as he fought to get his fitness up.
He said: “At the start of the season things were happening here and there, but I just kept my head down and worked hard. I got a chance and I’ve taken it. I’ve just got to keep sticking at it.
“It’s a different position for me, which I quite enjoy to be honest. I have to tailor my game a wee bit more defensive wise, but that’s the way it is. I’d do anything to play in the first XI – I just want to play every week.”
Rose, playing a front three, had the ball in the net on 20 minutes. Midfielder Blair Batchelor slid in at the back post to knock home Tommy Coyne’s cross-cum shot, but he had just strayed offside.
The visitors were playing at a high tempo as they sought the opener and Andy Shirra was inches away from hitting the back of the net, his effort from the edge of the box just drifting over home keeper William Bald’s crossbar.
Neil Janczyk then struck the top of the bar for Penicuik straight from a corner, with the home side looking dangerous on the break.
They had to be strong defensively though and a fine block from centre-back David Liddle prevented Colin Strickland from firing Rose ahead after some fine interplay between Kelbie and Coyne on the edge of the box.
Conor Thomson then came close for the hosts, his effort from outside the area worrying visiting keeper Ally Adams as the play swung from end to end.
On-loan Berwick Rangers keeper Bald didn’t cover himself in glory when attempting to grasp Ryan Baptie’s free-kick, the big stopper flapping at thin air. Kelbie flung himself towards the ball, but failed to connect himself as he went flying into the pitch-side railing.
Daryl Devlin’s header for the hosts looked on target minutes before the interval, only for team-mate Darrell Young to send the ball over the bar as he looked to take the glory himself.
Batchelor had the ball in the net for Rose again at the beginning of the second period, only for it to be struck off for offside once more.
It was Strickland’s turn to be denied by the linesman’s flag on 60 minutes after he latched on to a Coyne knockdown before dispatching well past Bald – a sense of injustice emanating from the Rose supporters.
Rose were starting to dominate in both possession and territory and the goal they were looking for finally arrived. Ruari MacLennan’s diagonal ball to the back post found Kelbie unmarked and he let the ball bounce before firing across Bald and into the far corner.
Aaron Somerville thought he had pulled Penicuik level after 83 minutes with a fine header, but it was Penicuik’s turn to be on the wrong side of the assistant’s flag as Rose saw the game out without much trouble.
Penicuik boss Craig Meikle thought his side had the better of the first half but rued their lack of quality after the interval.
He said: “I thought we were the better team in the first half and I thought they were the better team in the second half.
“The number of times we got ourselves in a good position in the second half and we just passed it straight to a Lithgae player was so frustrating. Our attitude was good, but when you’re playing against the top teams you need to have a wee bit more than that, you need to have that wee bit of quality.”
Penicuik Athletic: Bald, Devlin, McDermott, Young, Liddle, Barr (Fraser), Thomson, Janczyk, Lough (Blaikie), Somerville, Lister (Patterson).
Linlithgow Rose: Adams, Thom, Baptie, MacKenzie, Leiper, MacLennan, Batchelor, Shirra (Weir), Strickland (Kelly), Coyne, Kelbie.