Linlithgow 1 Sauchie 0: Coyne puts Rose top of table

Owen Ronald was denied a goal by Sauchie keeper Darren Dolan
Owen Ronald was denied a goal by Sauchie keeper Darren Dolan

A Tommy Coyne goal was enough to defeat Sauchie on Saturday and send Linlithgow Rose to the top of the East Superleague table.

Coyne’s strike 14 minutes from time was the only goal of the match, but it was all Rose needed to rack up their seventh league win in a row.

After a number of away matches on the trot, Linlithgow were back at Prestonfield for the first time since defeating Broughty on September 16.

They started well and after some early pressure a lovely move involving Gary Thom, Roddy Maclennan, Owen Ronald and Coyne ended with the striker’s goal bound effort being blocked by a Sauchie defender.

Thom then headed over from a great position following Ronald’s corner from the left as Rose kept up the pressure.

Midway through the half Linlithgow - keen to preserve their 100 per cent home record this season - threatened again when a dangerous cross from Roddy Maclennan on the left was held by keeper Darren Dolan.

Minutes later Ronald’s fierce free kick was not far off target as he looked to add to his impressive haul of goals from midield by finding the net for the seventh league match in succession.

With five minutes of the half remaining Rose midfielder Martin Shields was booked for a foul and team-mate Kyle Turnbull Stewart and Sauchie’s Darren Cummings followed him into the book for their antics in the aftermath.

Rose hadn’t made the expected breakthrough against the relegation strugglers and were almost made to pay before the half time whistle sounded.

Cummings saw a shot stopped by Darren Hill and moments later the same Sauchie man had a chance to put his side ahead with a strong diving header, but this time he sent the ball wide of the target.

Early in the second half, Roddy Maclennan might have put the Rose ahead after some nice work fending off Stewart Houston, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post when he should have hit the target.

With just over an hour played keeper Dolan pulled off a fine save from Coyne on the turn to keep his side on level terms.

And at the other end his Linlithgow counterpart Hill then did likewise with a fantastic one handed reaction save to turn the ball over the bar and prevent a Jamie Mackenzie own goal.

Rose continued to be frustrated ion their attempts to break the deadlock - Ronald was clean through but his shot blocked by Dolan.

Boss Mark Bradley then made a couple of changes, sending on Blair Batchelor and Aiden Malone for Shields and Roddy Maclennan, while Sauchie also made a switch with Darren Gourlay replacing Cummings.

Rose remained dominant but struggling to convert their possession into goals - until the 76th minute when talisman Coyne finally put them in front.

Ronald set the goal up with a cross from the right which was tapped into the net at the backpost by Coyne.

After a slow start to the campaign in terns of goals, the prolific hitman - in his testimionial year - has now found the target eight times in his past five games.

With 10 minutes remaining, the Rose continued to press forward for a second to make the game safe and substitute iMalone’s shot was held by the keeper.

Dolan then tipped Ronald’s strike over the bar before Sauchie’s Ant McTaggart picked up a yellow card for a foul and was immediately replaced by Mark Sharp.

Ronald then had another fierce shot saved by the keeper.

Coyne was replaced by Stewart Devine and former Rose striker Conor Kelly was booked for a foul on the Linlithgow substitute.

In the end there was no further scoring.

Despite the narrow scoreline it was a decent performance from the Rose.

But more importantly, they came off to discover it was a win which sees them sit at the top of the league table with previous leaders Penicuik Athletic suffering a 3-0 defeat at home to Lochee United.

Linlithgow are a point ahead of Penicuik and three clear of Bonnyrigg Rose, although Bonnyrigg have played a game less than their two title rivals.