'Unbelievable character': Flu-ridden Bonnyrigg Rose dig deep to end 2022 with victory and get off bottom of the table
Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn heaped praise on his flu-ridden squad for battling through “adversity” to secure their first three points in League Two since October in a thrilling 3-2 win over Stranraer at New Dundas Park.
The Midlothian club were hit by a bug this week which not only swept through the playing squad, but also hit their coaching staff and committee. Training on Tuesday night was cut short and Thursday’s night’s session was cancelled all-together with all but five of Horn’s squad suffering flu-like symptoms.
Rose started the night bottom of the table and fell behind after just 14 minutes when Josh Walker struck from range. From then on, the home side were on top and led at the interval thanks to goals from Ross Gray and Kieran Mitchell. Neil Martynuik looked to have given Rose all three points with a second-half penalty, but the visitors – managed by former Hearts player Jamie Hamill – struck back almost instantly through Luke Watt’s header to ensure a nervy finish.
"The boys showed unbelievable character,” said Horn. “We have all been suffering the effects of flu, at one point we had 17 guys out of 22 with symptoms of cold or flu, we had to cancel training on Thursday night. To get a performance like we did was different class. In the first half I thought we were in control of the game, they scored with a great strike from distance but I thought we were in control. In the second half we sat deep at times and the pressure came on us, they really pushed on and we got a few lucky breaks along the way.
"When we got ourselves 3-1 in front I hoped we would be able to see the game out comfortably, but we lost a goal so quickly after scoring and we were hanging on, there's no getting away from it. The resilience from the players when they weren't feeling well was tremendous. There was a few of them really struggling and you could see that, but they got through it and it's a massive three points. Sometimes in adversity in can galvanise you, and I think that's what happened tonight.”
Rose are now looking up the table heading in to a short break, with their next match at home to Albion Rovers on January 7. Sitting joint seventh, they are suddenly only three points off the play-off places.
Horn added: “I looked at these games coming up, tonight, and then into January, and I thought it was a chance for us to pick up some points. That's us unbeaten in five now, it gives everybody a lift going into Christmas and the new year. We will come back ready for Albion Rovers in our next home game.
“Hopefully going into the new year, we will get a run of people being fit and not suspended, and if we do that, I am sure we can push ourselves up to the top end of the table. I am delighted for the fans, they've been magnificent the last five or six games, they have really got behind the players and the coaching staff, it's been greatly appreciated. We need them to continue to get behind us, and I am sure they will.”