Linlithgow back on winning track with Dundonald win

Luke Whelan came on as a second-half substitute for Linlithgow
Luke Whelan came on as a second-half substitute for Linlithgow

Linlithgow Rose got back to winning ways as they closed the gap on fellow title chasers Dundonald Bluebell last Saturday.

Rose hosted the Fife side at Prestonfield, needing a win to build some confidence after some difficult results in the last few weeks.

And they delivered to move to within a point of fourth-placed Dundonald – still with games in hand – as they seek to climb back to the top of the table and push for the title.

Weather conditions were far from ideal – horrendous with freezing rain and a biting wind.

Dundonald had a chance to take the lead in the 12th minute, but Lewis McKenzie blasted wide when he was clean through and should have scored.

Midway through the half, Linlithgow’s Robert Sloan picked up the first yellow card of the match for a foul on McKenzie.

On the half hour mark, the visitors were unfortunate not to take the lead when Archie Campbell beat Rose keeper Darren Hill to the ball and tried to pull off a neat chip from out wide.

But luckily for Linlithgow the ball bounced off the bar and out of reach of any Dundonald player.

The breakthrough came at the other end in the 37th minute.

Rose were awarded a penalty when Blair Batchelor was fouled in the box by Wilson and there were no protests from the visitors.

Tommy Coyne stepped up and when keeper James Lennox committed himself early, the Rose striker slotted the ball in the other corner to put the Rose ahead.

However, up until the Rose goal, Dundonald were cutting through the Rose midfield and were somewhat unlucky to be behind at the interval.

The visitors made a change at the start of the second half, with Penman replacing McKenzie.

But it was the home side who scored next, extending their lead in the 53rd minute when Sloan’s corner was headed in by Gary Thom.

Immediately, Dundonald had a chance to hit back when Campbell was through on goal but he was denied by Hill’s legs.

They did, however, claw a goal back just three minutes later when Colin Leiper’s error allowed ex-Rose man Callum Smith to play a neat ball across the face of goal which was turned in by Campbell.

Just after the hour mark, Luke Whelan replaced the injured Thom, and minutes later, the Rose unexpectedly increased their lead when keeper Lennox palmed Sloan’s corner into his own net.

The Rose went further ahead in the 68th minute when, after good possession, a great dummy from Colin Strickland from Batchelor’s pass allowed the ball to run on into the path of Roddy MacLennan who clipped a sweet shot past the advancing Lennox. Dundonald reduced the deficit in the 71st minute when Campbell chipped Hill and Leiper couldn’t get back in time to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

But Rose – who replaced Darren Smith with Stewart Devine – scored again in the 75th minute.

Coyne took a free-kick and although the keeper got to the ball, he allowed it to trundle under his body and over the line.

Sloan was replaced by Martyn Shields,and the visitors replaced Drummond with Walton and then Forbes with Kay.

But Rose were forced to play the closing stages with 10 men when, in the 84th minute, Hendry was booked for a dangerous foul on Roddy MacLennan who couldn’t continue and limped off with the Rose having used all their substitutes.

Three minutes from time, Smith’s shot was blocked by Hill, and in the dying seconds Walton was booked for a foul on Batchelor.

While Dundonald had their chances, in the end it was a solid win for the Rose, one which should help grow confidence in the Rose camp for the closing stages of the season.

Boss Bradley said: “The conditions were difficult and they go back to front as quickly as possible so we had to battle and dig in and that’s fine, that has to happen sometimes.

“We created some good opportunities without really threatening the goal, so it was good to get the breakthrough just before half-time.”