Bo’ness United grabbed the bragging rights after the league leaders overcame local rivals Linlithgow Rose 2-1 at Newtown Park, writes Kevin McAlpine.
In front of a bumper crowd which topped the 1000 mark, two first half goals for the home side on Saturday proved decisive as they held off a determined second half comeback from Rose.
Bo’ness were on the front foot quickly and everything was going up the left wing through the lively Ryan Stevenson whose driving runs and dangerous crossing were causing real concern for the Linlithgow backline.
The assertive start by the hosts was rewarded in the seventh minute when they grabbed a deserved opener, appropriately via the impressive Stevenson.
Linlithgow conceded a needless foul on the left touchline and Stevenson’s wicked delivery evaded attackers and defenders alike to find the net past the static Rose keeper Lee Wilson.
It should have been 2-0 three minutes later when Bo’ness cut through the Linlithgow defence with good play from Graeme MacGregor and Brian Ritchie to release Stevenson, whose superb cross found the head of Craig Comrie who miscued his header in front of goal.
Linlithgow’s first real chance arrived in the 27th minute when Gary Thom rose to meet an Owen Ronald corner, the big defender’s header agonisingly drifting barely wide of goal with BU keeper Andy Murphy rooted to his line.
Bo’ness doubled their lead on the half hour and again it was a poor goal to lose from a Linlithgow perspective.
Tommy Coyne saw yellow for a needless lunge on Comrie in the Bo’ness half and from the resultant free-kick swung into the box by Ross Campbell, Brian Ritchie outleapt his marker and sent his header from 18 yards past Wilson who will be disappointed not to have done better.
The second half saw Brian Morgan denied by the crossbar after his header from a Tom Grant corner beat Wilson, while at the other end Murphy made a sharp double save to firstly block a Coyne effort then Ronald’s follow-up.
Linlithgow gave their large travelling support hope of an unlikely draw when they pulled a goal back with 10 minutes remaining.
Ronald’s free-kick was punched away by Murphy but the rebound was seized upon by Coyne who showed his experience to control the ball then find the net with a cool finish.
Two minutes later Rose thought they had levelled when substitute Ross Allum showed great footwork to dribble into the box.
Unfortunately for the forward Murphy was equal to his near post effort and managed to push the ball away.
The visitors were now throwing everything forward and two minutes into stoppage time there was an almighty scramble in the United penalty area as a Liam Allison corner caused chaos.
There were multiple shots at goal and only desperate blocks and good fortune kept the ball out before eventually the danger was averted at the expense of a corner.
The setpiece was wasted and Bo’ness saw out the remaining seconds.