Max Christie has tasked his Tranent team with securing a “best of the rest” finish in East of Scotland Conference B after a terrific second-half performance in which they put five past ten-man Bo’ness.
The Belters produced an unstoppable showing in the second half after an opening 45 minutes which Bo’ness – whose manager Steve Kerrigan quit after the game – controlled without finding a way past the excellent Sinclair Inglis in the home goal.
Christie reckons it is too big a task to catch league leaders Bonnyrigg Rose who are ten points clear of Dundonald Bluebell at the summit, but hopes his side, who have four games in hand over the Fife club, can pip them to second.
“We were terrible in the first half and our keeper kept us in the game,” said Christie. “We were sleep walking I thought and just not at the tempo of the game at all. I was suspended today so I wasn’t in the changing room at half-time, so whatever they did at half-time - we were just a different team. Some of our football in the second half was outstanding.
“Lewis Hawkins, our captain at centre half, and Dean Whitson were excellent – I thought they were all great. When we are in full flow we are a good team and good to watch. Bo’ness don’t get beat 5-0 – not in my ten years in Junior, I’ve never heard of that. They are a proud club so for us to do that is a massive achievement.
“We are games behind so you start panicking a wee bit. The objective and expectation here is to win every game and that’s what we’ve got to deliver. We’ve got a good bunch of boys and their discipline was better and their energy was good.
“Without being negative, Bonnyrigg don’t look like getting beat. They are the benchmark and we need to be up there competing with them.”
Home winger Chris Robertson came closest to opening the scoring after seven minutes when his lobbed attempt came back off the bar after Ian Black had played a neat ball in behind the defence.
Tranent keeper Inglis then twice denied striker Allan MacKenzie as the BUs fought back, before his precision kick upfield landed just right for Kayne Paterson who lifted the ball over Bo’ness keeper Andrew Murphy but again they were denied by the woodwork.
The home side were on it from the start of the second half and took the lead after 53 minutes. Iain Syme was short with his back pass to Murphy and striker Jamie Devlin snuck in and fired at goal. Murphy denied him but the ball fell for Paterson who lifted the ball over the stranded keeper and into the empty net.
Tranent struck a bit of fortune with their second of the afternoon as left-back Chris Inglis’ shot from distance took a wicked deflection off Bo’ness captain Chris Donnelly and nestled in the far corner. Another deflected effort made it three on 70 minutes as the impressive Bob Berry’s shot somehow snuck in at the front post.
Stuart Hunter was sent-off when he scythed down Devlin from behind with 15 minutes remaining. Losing a player was the last thing they needed and Tranent substitute Bradley Barrett made it four. Devlin left the best until last as he sent a rocket of a strike into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Bo’ness assistant-player Andy Shirra says the visitors are hurting after such a heavy defeat. “We came in at half-time and we thought we should’ve been three or four goals up with the chances that we had. Within a five-minute spell of the second half it just went mental as we found ourselves three-nil down. It was very disappointing.
“It didn’t help when big Hunts got sent-off, it made it even tougher and it was just a case of trying to see the game out. It’s an even harder game this week (away at Bonnyrigg) and we need to pick the boys up in training and get some confidence installed in them because they are hurting right now.”
Tranent: S Inglis, Reid, C Inglis (Rutherford), Hawkins, Whitson, Berry, Robertson (Barrett), Black, Devlin, Fisher, Paterson (McGovern).
Bo’ness United: Murphy, Jacobs, Syme, Campbell, Hunter, Comrie (Prentice), Morgan, Donnelly, Wright (Daramola), MacKenzie, Stevenson (McMullin).