Penicuik Athletic left-back Ryan Baptie marked his return from a horror leg break sustained in pre-season with a stunning winner on his debut for the club.
The former Hibs youth player, inset, suffered the devastating blow just days before the start of the season in a friendly with Dunbar United in August, wrecking the start to his move to Penicuik after signing from Peterhead.
The supersub’s looping strike six minutes from time on Saturday made all the hard work to return from injury all the more worth it, as Penicuik secured their first Super League win in four.
The 22-year-old paid tribute to the club’s physio Alix Ronaldson for her help in ensuring he returned to full fitness ahead of schedule.
“It was the last game of pre-season before the season started, so that was my first competitive game,” said Baptie.
“It was really hard; it was one of those ones where the next again day you don’t quite believe it. I came home and thought ‘wow what’s happened’.
“It was kind of a whirlwind from there. I had the operation two days later and I was on crutches for nine and a half weeks and could put literally no weight on my foot or anything. As soon as I got the go-ahead to put weight on my foot, I worked so hard, literally every day to get back to where I am now. They never thought I’d be back in January.
“The physio, Alix, has been brilliant, she’s done so much for me, she’s been there all the time. She gave me a programme and a plan to get back fit. I kept asking for more and at times she had to tell me to watch what I was doing because I was probably too keen at times, that’s just my attitude.”
Visitors Dundonald, riding high in the upper echelons of the Super League in just their second season in the top flight, would look back on the opening 15 minutes as a missed opportunity as they had the home side penned inside their own half.
Johnny Harvey’s side made them pay after 23 minutes when, after inadvertently blocking his own team-mate Scott McCrory-Irving’s shot, striker Sean Jamieson turned the ball home.
It took until the 54th minute for home goalkeeper Kyle Allison to be brought into action, but he was picking the ball out of his net six minutes later.
Opposite number James Lennox hoisted the ball high for Calum Smith to flick on for strike partner Archie Campbell who ruthlessly found the bottom corner.
The match looked like it could go either way, with Penicuik denied a blatant penalty by referee Peter Stuart after Lumbert Kateleza was scythed down in the box. Kateleza got the assist for Penicuik’s crucial second when he opted to take a quick corner, playing it short to Baptie, who sent a planted a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.
On-loan Livingston striker Jack Hamilton, another substitute, made the points secure when the teenager lashed home with three minutes remaining.
Harvey heaped praise on his players for getting the hard-fought win despite not playing at their best, with several regulars missing out through injury.
He said: “I thought we were slow at the start of the game. We maybe just shaded the first half after the bad start we had. We’ve played better and been beaten in games –© we weren’t quite at our best but we did enough to win the game.
“I thought our fitness would tell and it proved to be the case; I think we finished by far the stronger team.
“You just look at what we had out on Saturday. I’ve got a squad of 23 players and I only had 14 available, with boys who have played 90 per-cent of games for us missing out.
“All we’re looking to do is to be better than we are last year, but we were on the back of three defeats. We were up against it and the character we showed was brilliant right throughout the team.”
Penicuik Athletic: Allison, MacDonald, Ponton, Young, Hamilton (Baptie), Hume, McCrory-Irving, Jones, Jamieson (Hamilton), Somerville (Mendes), Kateleza.
Dundonald Bluebell: Lennox, Durie, Drummond, Wedderburn, Wilson, Moffat, Walton (Martin), Campbell, Smith, Forbes (McKenzie), Meikle (Sibanda).