Moment to cherish as Tranent end 20-year wait for title

Tranent celebrate winning the South League title after a 3-2 victory. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Tranent celebrate winning the South League title after a 3-2 victory. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Tranent boy Stephen Manson struck a late penalty for his hometown club to complete a remarkable second-half turnaround as the Belters secured their first league title in 20 years.

The Foresters Park men found themselves 2-1 down at half-time in Fife, knowing they needed all three points to secure the title on their own merit with nearest challengers 
Whitburn having five games still to play.

Their hopes of lifting the South Division crown at the end of 90 minutes looked slim, but second half goals from Joe Murray and Manson’s penalty, which Rosyth claimed shouldn’t have stood after the ball came directly off the post without another player touching it before Manson fired it home, ensured glory for the already-promoted East Lothian club.

“It was mixed emotions for me, I was absolutely over the moon but I was ready to burst into tears to be honest,” said 30-year-old Manson. “My 
grandad used to take me to watch the team and it was 20 years ago they last won the league, so I was about ten and I can still remember it – to be on the park and to score the 
winner for my hometown team just means so much to me.

“I was sitting in the house last night and I thought ‘I bet we get a penalty late on tomorrow’, we did and I was maybe a bit fortunate – people say it’s not my goal or I shouldn’t have shot but I’m a football player I’m going to put the ball in the back of the net.

“I sort of saw the goalie going and I was half going to change my mind, but I would never change half-way through, the ball just came right back to me and I was putting it in regardless. I think it was maybe a wee bit of luck we deserved, because I thought the ref gave us a bit of a hard time in the game.”

Backed by a visiting support of more than 200, Tranent began the game strongly and Kayne 
Paterson struck the first effort on target after cutting in from the left wing, but home keeper Declan McGregor gathered.

The visiting defence was 
exposed in the tenth minute as Rosyth grabbed the opener. Charlie Denton managed to flick the ball to team-mate Thomas Hampson as he lay on the ground and the striker fired across Sinclair Inglis into the far corner.

Tranent didn’t take long to draw level, however, as striker Kenny McMillan layed the ball off for Paterson who finished emphatically from just inside the box after 17 minutes.

Neil Smeaton then had a goalbound header cleared off the line as Tranent remained in the ascendancy, but the home side came roaring back before the break and deservedly went in ahead.

The Tranent defence failed to deal with a corner, clearing only as far as John Duffy who was just inside the area and he swept a high finish into the net past Inglis.

Tranent boss Gary Small introduced Ben Miller at the interval with the visitors moving to a back three as they went for broke. Just three second-half minutes had elapsed when striker Murray curled a fine effort into the top corner after his initial shot had been saved by McGregor.

Former Falkirk frontman Murray then appealed for a penalty after he went down under a challenge by McGregor but referee Philip McLean waved play on.

McLean did point to the spot as the clock ran down, Murray falling under Baillie Kay’s challenge just inside the area, before Manson converted after he struck his effort off the post – the Tranent bench running onto the pitch to acclaim the winner.

Rosyth: McGregor, O’Connor, Kay, Robertson, Murphy, Duffy, Denton (Goodwin), MacMillan (Johnstone), Hampson, McDairmid (Ogg), Morrison

Tranent: Inglis, Smeaton, Beaton (Miller), Gordon, McKenzie, Smith, Manson, Hawkins, McMillan, Murray, Paterson (Hunter)