When Super League leaders Kelty Hearts went to Prestonfield and defeated Linlithgow Rose 3-1 back in December to move 15 points clear of their hosts at the top of table, many thought Danny Smith’s side were out of title contention.
Fast forward to February and the gap is still a considerable 11 points, yet Rose have four games in hand over the league leaders. Talk of Kelty being out of reach just over two months ago was premature for Linlithgow goalkeeper Scott Christie, whose side have gone on to win their last five league matches since the defeat.
“When they beat us, you were starting to look at it and say we’ve got a big job on our hands now,” said Christie. “To say you are out of contention in December, is a bit early for me though. Since then things have turned around a bit and tomorrow is big chance for us to fire ourselves right back in there again.”
Rose travel to Fife tomorrow seeking to even things up at Kelty’s Central Park. Christie will just be happy to remain on the pitch longer than in their December clash, when he was given a straight red after just four minutes for taking out striker Sean O’Neil on the edge of the box.
Christie felt the ball was there to be won, but his challenge cost his side dearly in just his second game back after being on the sidelines for over three months with a hamstring problem.
“If I’m being honest, it’s natural that you are a wee bit rusty after being out for a while,” he said. “Looking back it was a wee bit tight and maybe I should’ve stayed at home, but I made the decision at the time and my intentions were always to play the ball. Unfortunately I was 100 per cent committed to it and he took a touch away from me, so there was no way that I could stop. Watching it back, it looked like a bit of an assault!
“I knew I’d left the boys with an uphill task, because Kelty are a good side and they are going very well this season. When you are down to ten men after four minutes, it makes an already tough job even harder, so hopefully there is no repeat of that this week.”
With Kelty unbeaten at home in the league and Rose on having won four of their last five games on the road, something will have to give in Fife. However, an omen for Rose is that boss Smith and assistant Alan Moffat have never tasted defeat at Kelty during their time at the helm of both Rose and their old club Camelon.
Christie admits it’s a game his side need to win to remain in contention for the league crown and with Rose yet to face local rivals Bo’ness United and fellow title challengers Newtongrange Star, the big games are coming thick and fast.
He added: “We are optimistic for Saturday, but we know it will be a tough game. It doesn’t matter if you are playing the so called bigger teams in the league or the teams down at the bottom, they are all tough games.
“We are looking for the right result – we need to win to keep our league hopes alive. Every game we play in, we go to win anyway, so it’s not a massive change for us.
“From now on until the end of the season the games are just going to keep getting bigger, starting against Kelty and then the Scottish Cup next week. We are still in all the competitions and as a player you want to be playing in all the big games.”
Tomorrow’s match at Central Park kicks off at 2.15pm.