Newtongrange Star boss Stevie McLeish feels his side are going in the right direction, despite surrendering a two-goal half-time lead as they missed out on the chance to get off the foot of the table.
The New Victoria Park men were in control at the break after goals from Kyle Lander and Lee Currie, but a fired-up Broxburn side salvaged a point with a second half comeback to deny Star just their second home victory of the season.
Propping up the Super League table alongside Fauldhouse United, the two face each other at Newtongrange this Saturday in what will be a pivotal match in the battle to beat the drop.
“I said to the boys at half-time that the game wasn’t finished and I felt we weren’t even out of second gear yet,” said McLeish. “We didn’t congratulate ourselves because we felt there was more to come.
“I told them to see out the game and play at a higher tempo, but to be fair to Broxburn, they didn’t allow us to do that – they came on and they forced the game a wee bit in the second half and took their chances.
“There’s more positives than negatives. Considering where we were six games ago at home [losing their opening six home games] we’ve now taken four out of six points. We’re going in the right direction, it’s just frustrating we never got the win.”
Former Hibs coach McLeish feels his side have to overcome a mental barrier when they lose a goal if they are to stay up. However, he reckons a defeat to Fauldhouse on Saturday wouldn’t leave their survival hopes in tatters.
He continued: “For a lot of the game we looked really good and we were in control, but you can see there’s a fragility when we lose a goal. Teams can sniff it. It’s less now than what it was because in the past if we lost one, we lost three.
“[Fauldhouse] is just the same three points. You can build it up and build it up, but the worry about that is you play the occasion rather than the game. If the worst came to the worst and we got beat, then we’re not done yet.”
Star didn’t look like a side sitting at the wrong end of the table during the first half. They passed the ball around confidently, with purpose, and controlled the opening period.
Home forward Kenny O’Brien created an opening for himself after 14 minutes, cutting in from the right and firing a low strike which Broxburn goalkeeper Connor Wallace could only parry. Former St Johnstone youth Lander pounced on the rebound, cutting back across the six-yard box, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide.
David Morris glanced a header wide from Jordan Cropley’s corner-kick, before Star had keeper Liam Amos to thank with a fingertip save onto the woodwork from Nick Locke’s goalbound effort.
Star got the opener their play merited on 32 minutes when Cropley squared the ball for Lander to fire home.
That gave the home side hunger for more goals and they doubled their advantage two minutes before the break. Fine interplay between Currie and Jack Wilson ended with the forming lashing across Wallace and into the far corner.
Visiting boss Max Christie made a double switch at the interval with Ross Nimmo and Grant Gavin introduced.
Winger Nimmo was influential in Broxburn’s comeback. His corner was knocked home from close range by striker Darren Gribben on 55 minutes, before he fed Zander Miller who teed up Michael Linton to level with 18 minutes remaining.
Either side could’ve won it, with Star substitute Stuart Roseburgh presented with the best chance in the 80th minute, but his left-footed effort across goal drifted just wide.
Broxburn boss Christie was content with a point after revealing his displeasure at his side’s performance in the first half.
“We’ve got to be happy with a point, we were absolutely murder,” he said. “We just kicked the ball to the other team the whole of the first half.
“We changed it at half-time and went 4-4-2 and that worked. Without playing great, we got ourselves back in the game and might’ve won it.”
Newtongrange Star: Amos, Swaney, Martyniuk, Hamilton, Currie, Morris, Cropley, Wilson (Bracks), Lally, O’Brien (Roseburgh), Lander (Flynn).
Broxburn Athletic: Wallace, Scott, Millar, Purves (Gavin), Patterson, Linton, Gribben, Locke, Miller, McNaughton (Nimmo), Anderson.