Kennoway 1 Linlithgow 2: Five in a row for Rose

Linlithgow made their first ever Superleague trip to Keoonway Star Hearts.
Linlithgow made their first ever Superleague trip to Keoonway Star Hearts.

Linlithgow Rose returned to action with a fifth successive win as they maintain their title challenge with victory over Kennoway Star Hearts.

Rose travelled through to Fife for what was their first ever match against the East Superleague newcomers.

And Mark Bradley’s said made sure it was no gentle introduction as - shooting down the prominent slope - they made a whirlwind start.

They created a number of early chances, the first in just three minutes when Tommy Coyne headed just over the bar.

Just two minutes later a shot from Ruari Maclennan crashed off the post as Rose pushed for an early breakthrough.

But that almost came at the other end when - in the 11th minute - Kennoway were unlucky not to take the lead.

A sweeping move involving Liam Rolland and Chris Gay saw the latter enter the penalty box and a low driven cross provided Kieran Band with a great chance.

But from his close range shot Rose keeper Richie Barnard pulled off a fantastic save to block and keep the scoresheet blank.

Midway through the half, the Rose took a deserved lead when a ball over the top found Owen Ronald who passed to Blair Batchelor and he moved the ball on to Coyne who tapped it home from close range.

On the half hour mark, Stewart Devine might have extended the Rose’s lead, but his effort was poor and could only find the side netting.

Minutes later, however, he played a great ball to Batchelor who outjumped the defence, but his goal bound glancing header was brilliantly saved one-handed by keeper Robbie Paterson.

Coyne had a chance to score again before half-time when well positioned inside the box, but he blasted the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.

In the remaining minutes of the half, Kennoway’s Nathan Doig was booked for a foul on Batchelor while Ruari Maclennan was booked for catching a player with a late tackle.

Kennoway seemed content to get to half-time and try and regroup knowing they would have the advantage of the slope for the second 45.

But early in the second half the home side were forced to make a substitution, replacing the injured Craig with Collins.

The second half had seen a change in the flow of the game.

Muir and Band were having some joy for Kennoway with their ability to carry the ball into the attacking third and a free-kick from Johnstone missed the target on the hour.

Rose’s Martin Shields picked up a yellow card for a foul, before Kyle Turnbull replaced Devine and Shaw came on for Band minutes later for the home team.

Linlithgow were struggling to create the chances they did in the first half, but the pressure eased in the 73rd minute when Coyne found Ronald with a neat head flick and he held off a couple of men before rolling the ball past the outcoming Paterson and into the net.

Shields was replaced by Robert Sloan before the restart, and minutes later McGowan’s shot went wide in a rare attack from the home side.

In the 84th minute, Kennoway replaced Young with Brewster, while the Rose replaced Ronald with McClair.

Play was not pretty from the Rose but they kept Kennoway at bay until the 88th minute when they scored to set up a grandstand finish.

Gay weaved through a number of Rose players who refused to make a tackle and he shot past Barnard to set up a nervy final few minutes of the match.

Colin Leiper picked up a late booking and Johnstone’s free-kick was wasteful.

In the final minute, the woodwork came to the Rose’s rescue when Gay’s free-kick crashed off the bar and gave the Rose all three points.

After their enforced break the previous week Rose were relieved to get back to winning ways.

Last season Kelty Hearts ran away from the title virtually from the start, but this year’s Superleague looks like being a much more closely fought affair.

Leaders Lochee’s defeat at Newtongrange on Saturday saw them drop from first to fifth with Penicuik taking over at the top, two points ahead of Bonnyrigg, Linlithgow and Dundonald.