BO’NESS UNITED winger Nicky Walker celebrated signing a new two-year deal by bagging a brace to give the BUs a long-awaited league double over rivals Linlithgow.
Walker has been at Newtown Park for six years since he made the switch from Spartans and, in that time, Bo’ness have never beaten Linlithgow home and away in the league. Including last Monday’s 3-1 triumph in the East of Scotland Cup, that’s three victories over Rose in 2015 for Bo’ness and they could yet face each other again next month in the final of the Fife & Lothians Cup.
Walker’s 89th-minute winner clinched a 2-1 win and second place in the Super League behind champions Kelty Hearts and their attention now turns to ending the season with silverware.
“That’s never happened since I’ve been at the club and I’ve been here six years,” said Walker. “We’ve never done a clean sweep over our biggest rivals and it was difficult because there wasn’t much to play for – it was just really pride a stake.
“It wasn’t the best of games and you could tell that both teams had quite a busy schedule, there were a few tired legs and the squads were pushed to the limit. We are just doing our best to get through games at the moment and then, between games, it’s all about resting up. It’s a harder shift now especially with the harder surfaces.
“Hopefully we can end the season with two trophies. We’ve got the players to do it, it’s just whether we have the energy left in us.”
This was Rose’s ninth match in under three weeks, with the strain on the squad highlighted by the fact manager Danny Smith could only name two outfield players on the bench, along with substitute keeper Scott Christie, who recently handed in a transfer request.
It took until the 15th minute for either side to signal their intent, as Walker let fly from 30 yards after Mark Tyrrell had conceded possession, but Michael McKinven dealt with it comfortably. The visitors had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee David Munro when Roddy MacLennan went down under a Paul Murphy challenge, before left-back Ritchie McKillen’s 20-yard drive was deflected over.
Tyrell cleared off the line for Rose after Mark Cowan’s effort evaded McKinven and looked set to sneak into net, before Stewart Baillie saved well from Roddy MacLennan’s close-range strike.
Brother Ruari found the desired finish on 35 minutes, however, as he came out on top in a 50-50 with Ian Nimmo on the edge of the box before firing a shot into the far corner.
Francis Kelly was inches away from doubling Rose’s lead just before the break when he unleashed a long-range effort which flashed just past Baillie’s top right-hand corner.
Linlithgow were forced into a re-shuffle when defender Gary Thom limped off injured, with striker Kevin Kelbie flung on in his place as Adam Nelson dropped to left back.
Kelbie was still waiting on the touchline to come on when Bo’ness struck the equaliser. Chris Donnelly fired in a low cross from the left and Walker rushed in to poke home from close range. The two then combined once more a minute from time. Substitute Scott Gibb’s ball from the right found Walker in the area and he played a intricate one-two with Donnelly before firing low into the net from a tight angle. Linlithgow were left incensed in added on time when Francis Kelly went down in the box under a Donnelly challenge, with the midfielder given a second yellow and a red card for what referee Munro adjudged to be simulation.
Ross boss Smith felt the sending-off was harsh. He said: “There wasn’t a Bo’ness player or anybody shouting for a dive and unfortunately he gets a second yellow and the red card, it wasn’t right.
“I feel sorry for the players because of their effort and how they played in the first half. They kept at it and they never gave in.”
Bo’ness United: Baillie, Cowan (Robb), Devine, Murphy, Leiper, Nimmo (Alexander), Walker, Philp, Anderson (Gibb), Donnelly, Sloan.
Linlithgow Rose: McKinven, Thom (Kelbie), McKillen, Tyrrell, Ovenstone, Nelson, Ruari MacLennan, Shirra, Strickland, Kelly, Roddy MacLennan.