Broxburn Athletic boss Brian McNaughton has challenged his players to approach their final two league games like they are cup finals after they edged closer to the East of Scotland Conference C title with a comeback victory in Edinburgh.
The Albyn Park men remain in pole position at the league summit with a five-point advantage over Linlithgow Rose, who beat Jeanfield Swifts 3-2 in their 8pm kick-off at Prestonfield as part of GroundHop weekend.
Broxburn know six points from their final two matches away to Ormiston and Stirling University will secure their first league title since season 2009/10 when they lifted the South Division, and their place in the three-way play-off for a shot at the Lowland League.
McNaughton’s side were made to work for their three points on Saturday after a lacklustre opening period.
“Their mentality in the first half was far better than ours,” said McNaughton.
“We looked a tad nervous. The second half was much better, we passed the ball better but I also think they tired a wee bit and they never had many subs. Windy [Alan Miller] had them set up really well. We didn’t create a hell of a lot in the first half and until we got the second and third goal it was tough.
“We’ve scored a few late goals this year, which I think is down to our fitness. We’ve got all our players back so we’ve got players on the bench who can change things and that happened today. [Ross] Nimmo went on and done really well and Greg Binnie gave us a different dynamic.”
McNaughton would later head to Prestonfield to watch their title rivals in action, with their aim of winning their last two league matches still the same.
He continued: “It is still two points. We have to win our last two games as I think Linlithgow potentially will go on and win all of their games. We aren’t looking for favours; I’d love one but I’m not expecting it.
“I’ve told the boys that we’ve got two cup finals left against Ormiston and Stirling [University] and to expect the exact same as Saturday. It was tough, the park was quite hard, it wasn’t great for rolling the ball about at any pace. I thought Craigroyston were really really good.
“Ormiston and Stirling are going to be the exact same. It is down to the players to make sure we get over the line.”
Craigroyston appointed former Bathgate Thistle boss Michael Wilson as their new manager on Thursday, but Alan Miller was in the dugout for the last time as Wilson watched his new team in action for the first time.
He would have been thrilled to see his side open the scoring after 11 minutes when Tom Irving was put through and finished expertly past visiting goalkeeper Connor Wallace to hand the home side a surprise lead.
Broxburn levelled when Shaun Harrison headed home Jack Beesley’s free-kick, but the visitors certainly weren’t at their best as they toiled to find each other with simple passes.
Assistant boss Steven Hislop had them out warming up early prior to the second half and they were much improved.
Beesley should have put them ahead four minutes after the interval on the rebound from Nick Locke’s shot, but his effort was far too casual and defender Bradley Anderson got back to clear off the line.
A double change for the visitors saw midfielder Nimmo and striker Binnie come on, which gave them fresh impetus and they eventually took the lead with 20 minutes remaining through Craig Scott, who slotted in from close range.
Left-back Gordon Donaldson rifled in the third to make all three points secure with just over ten minutes remaining.
Craigroyston: Burnside, MacIntosh, Ross, Anderson, Nisbet, Miller, Greenhill, Donaldson, Campbell, Irving, Smith.
Broxburn Athletic: Wallace, Purves, Donaldson, Harrison, Townsley, Linton, Beesley (Nimmo), Scott, Kelly (Binnie), Locke, Ross (Richards).