Linlithgow Rose reinforced their East Superleague title challenge with a convincing win at Carnoustie Panmure on Saturday.
The victory stretched Rose’s unbeaten league run to 11 matches and puts them in good heart for this Saturday’s Scottish Junior Cup showdown with Rob Roy.
Bright blue skies and a pitch in excellent condition greeted the Rose when they made the long trip north on Saturday for this East Superleague fixture. There was one change to the starting line up with Blair Batchelor replacing Luke Whelan.
The early play was confined to midfield and 10 minutes had gone before Carnoustie’s John Roberts had the first shot on goal but his angled shot from the corner of the box went wide of the far post.
The home side had started the better and it was approaching the 20 minute mark before, in a nice Rose move, Roddy Maclennan played a lovely reverse pass to Colin Strickland who held off a defender and was through on goal only to be harshly pulled up for a foul by referee Souter.
Midway through the half Roddy Maclennan again did well and his low shot was pushed away by Alan Cormack and the ball fell just behind the onrushing Jamie Mackenzie.
There was controversy in the 27th minute when Robert Urquhart prevented the Rose from taking a quick free kick on halfway and when Mackenzie pushed him away he went down dramatically holding his face in a blatant attempt to get the Rose man sent off. In the end both players were booked.
The Rose were starting to get on top and when Strickland was fouled from behind, the ball ran on to Ruari Maclennan who was promptly brought down by Paddy Conway.
While the first foul seemed worse it was Conway who got a yellow card.
Martyn Shields took the free-kick and it was perfect for Gary Thom to meet with a diving header to send the ball low past Cormack into the corner and put the Rose ahead.
Carnoustie almost hit back immediately when Sam Simpson sent in a deep cross from the left and Urquhart’s header was only just off target.
The second half started with a Ryan Dignan header from Simpson’s cross but it was straight at Darren Hill.
The striker had a great chance minutes later when Mackenzie was short with a header back to his keeper but his shot was very well blocked by the advancing Hill.
The Rose keeper had to make a good double save as the home side enjoyed their best spell of the match but their hopes of snatching an equaliser were ruined just before the hour when the Rose extended their lead with a beautifully worked goal.
Several players were involved in a patient build up and in the end it was Batchelor to Roddy Maclennan to Strickland who turned away from his marker and sent his shot low past Cormack in off the far post.
Two minutes later the game should have been over. Cormack could only parry Roddy Maclennan’s fierce shot straight into the path of Iain Gray but with the keeper on the ground and a gaping goal at his mercy, he somehow fired the ball over the bar.
Referee Souter continued to exasperate coaches and fans alike, first when awarding Carnoustie a free kick when it was clearly the other way and then when Conway fouled Batchelor he decided that it merited a second yellow card and sent him off.
That really ended Carnoustie’s challenge and the Rose dominated for the rest of the game.
Coyne and Roddy Maclennan were not far away with long range shots before the former hit the post after a Batchelor shot was deflected into his path.
Coyne then appeared to be held back in the box by Ewan Buggins but the penalty claims were ignored.
McGeehan was booked for a foul on Batchelor and then the Rose were awarded a penalty when Batchelor went down as he tried to round Cormack despite the keeper seeming to get quite a lot of the ball.
Coyne sent Cormack the wrong way from the spot kick to put the Rose three up.
Just before the final whistle Buggins, who had earlier been booked for dissent had more to say to the referee and was sent off to complete a miserable day for the Gowfers.