Triumphant Penicuik Athletic player-manager Craig Meikle felt his players handled the occasion better than Super League champions Bonnyrigg Rose as they got their hands on the Fife and Lothians Cup.
Penicuik were forced to defend for much of the 90 minutes at Olivebank, Musselburgh, but they defended resolutely and got the goals when it mattered in a 3-1 win to secure their first piece of silverware since they won the Premier League title back in 2014.
An early first-half effort from Penicuik’s Darrell Young put them ahead before Rose deservedly drew level through Adam Nelson.
The two sides looked set to be going into the interval level until Penicuik striker Ryan McCallum struck in the final minute of the opening half. Substitute Sean Patterson struck after the break to ensure the trophy came back to the Penicuik side of Midlothian.
“I thought Bonnyrigg froze a bit and my players just stepped up to the occasion,” said Meikle.
“I’ve got a lot of players in our team that raise their game for big games and that’s what happened here – we just found another gear. I thought we deserved it. I think a few of the Bonnyrigg players froze on the big occasion in front of a big crowd.
“When we’ve got our best team out we will compete against anyone. Unfortunately, we’ve not got the strongest of squads so when we lose a few key players it weakens us quite badly. But last night we had one of our strongest teams out and it shows we can compete against anyone.
“I said to the boys before the game: ‘It’s really hard to get to these cup finals now so when you get a chance you’ve really got to try and take it’.”
Penicuik drew first blood after seven minutes. Keith Lough’s corner was fizzed across goal and Young powered a header into the net past Bonnyrigg replacement goalkeeper Dylan Rooney, who came into the squad in place of No.1 Michael Andrews, who was on holiday.
Rose gradually came into the final, enjoying most of the possession in the final third, but they struggled to carve out many chances.
Keiran McGachie was on the end of their best opening after half an hour but he found himself offside as he shot wide.
Rose, who ended the season 32 points ahead of Penicuik in the league, finally got level after 40 minutes. Striker Wayne McIntosh chipped a perfect ball into the box which Nelson met to glance a header past keeper Youssef Bejaoui.
The equaliser didn’t knock Penicuik out their stride, however, as McCallum pounced in the final minute of the half and curled an exquisite left-foot strike into the top corner past Rooney.
Rose had a penalty appeal waved away on 57 minutes as Bejaoui challenged McGachie in the box, but referee Scott Miller wasn’t interested.
Bonnyrigg were struggling to break Penicuik down, who were quite happy to sit back and defend, with Meikle leading by example at the heart of their defence.
The crucial third goal to kill of Rose’s challenged arrived after 73 minutes. Rooney failed to deal with a ball across the face of his goal with the ball landing nicely for Aaron Somerville at the back post, who cut the ball back inside the area for the onrushing Patterson to slide into an empty net.
Bonnyrigg Rose: Rooney, Archibald, Donaldson, Stewart, Moyes, Hoskins, Gray (Kidd), Turner (McLaren), McGachie (Tobin), Nelson, McIntosh.
Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, Devlin, McDermott, Meikle, Young, Lister (Patterson), Barr, Janczyk, McCallum, Somerville, Lough.