Penicuik hope away days can reignite Super League title bid

Penicuik's Andy Forbes fires home from the penalty spot. Pic: Jon Savage
Penicuik's Andy Forbes fires home from the penalty spot. Pic: Jon Savage
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Defender Andy Forbes hopes playing away from home can help get Penicuik’s Super League title bid back on track.

Johnny Harvey’s side have had back-to-back draws on their own turf in recent weeks with underfoot conditions at Penicuik Park not conducive to the style of play which propelled Athletic to top spot for the early part of the campaign.

Saturday’s match on Prestonfield’s renowned surface afforded them the opportunity to revert to familiar methods, and it was one they took full advantage of as they enjoyed a 3-1 win over Linlithgow – Rose’s first home loss this season – to complete the double on Mark Bradley’s men.

With away trips to Forfar West End and Jeanfield Swifts in the coming weeks, Forbes, who notched a controversial second-half penalty, is confident they’ll be in a stronger position when they return home.

“The pitch has been difficult but, in saying that, we’ve had a great response from committee guys and other fans helping out with the pitch – we’re obviously grateful for them doing that,” said Forbes.

“It has been difficult to play on the last few weeks so coming to a surface like this definitely benefited us. We’re away the next two weeks so hopefully the park will get a chance to rest.

“After the last few weeks, I know the gaffer had said that we had maybe fallen out of it [the title race] a wee bit, but that result maybe throws the cat amongst the pigeons. All we can do is focus on ourselves and keep trying to win games, and you never know what other teams might do in terms of slipping up.

“We’ll just keep winning and, if it gets us back in the mix, then great. To come here and get a win is a great achievement for us.”

Although Rose were furious at some of the decision-making of referee Duncan Smith, so much so that captain Ruari MacLennan and manager Bradley were both sent off for words exchanged with the official, they couldn’t argue that they weren’t second best all afternoon.

The home side may have taken the lead on 18 minutes when striker Colin Strickland headed home Robert Sloan’s cross, but that goal had arrived against the run of play, with Penicuik unfortunate not to be at least two goals up by that point.

Midfielder Callum Connolly should have levelled from three yards out but, after initially missing the ball, his second attempt was parried well by home goalkeeper Darren Hill.

The equaliser arrived ten minutes before the break. After Aaron Ponton’s shot was saved, captain Craig Hume lashed home the rebound high into the net.

Rose should have been back in front after 70 minutes but Roddy MacLennan fired wide at the back post with the goal gaping.

Straight away the home side were punished as on-loan Livingston striker Kyle Sampson reacted quickest after Ponton’s shot was saved to prod home.

Penicuik were awarded a penalty soon after despite Hill appearing to take the ball at the feet of striker Lumbert Kateleza, with Ruari MacLennan shown a straight red card in the aftermath for his protests as Rose players surrounded referee Smith.

Forbes was forced to wait several minutes before he took the spot-kick but that didn’t seem to faze him as he fired high into the net past Hill from 12 yards.

Rose boss Bradley, who was later sent to the stand by Smith, was furious with the referee at full-time.

He said: “It’s getting beyond a joke and I don’t want to talk about him too much because he’s not done himself any favours with some of the comments that he made to the players during the game.

“I’’m not using it as an excuse for the defeat but it doesn’t help. It’s ridiculous. Penicuik were good, they came and they were up for it, but some of the referee’s decisions were unacceptable and it’s a waste of time us turning up if he’s going to be our official because it’s getting personal now.”

Linlithgow Rose: Hill, Gray (Shields), Turnbull, MacKenzie, Thom, Sloan (Leiper), Batchelor, Ruari MacLennan, Strickland, Coyne, Roddy MacLennan.

Penicuik Athletic: Allison, Forbes, Williams, Hume (Hamilton), Young, Connolly, MacDonald, Jones, Mendes (Sampson), Kateleza (McCrory-Irving), Ponton.