Linlithgow close gap on leaders Bonnyrigg with vital victory

Linliinthgow were unable to find a way past the Broughty defence until Gary Thom's 80th minute winner (pic by Sean Dee Photography).
Linliinthgow were unable to find a way past the Broughty defence until Gary Thom's 80th minute winner (pic by Sean Dee Photography).

Linlithgow Rose maintained their title hopes with another vital Superleague win at Broughty to close the gap on leaders Bonnyrigg.

After having to come from behind against Jeanfield Swifts at Prestonfield the previous week, Rose again left it late on the outskirts of Dundee.

But defender Gary Thom’s goal 10 minutes from time was enough to settle the match in Linlithgow’s favour.

And they came off to discover they had closed to within four points of Bonnyrigg who were held to a goalless draw at Camelon.

Linlithgow were given an early scare when, within a minute of the match kicking off, the ball was in their net.

Brian Clark turned the ball home after Darren Hill was only able to parry Derryn Kesson’s initial shot into his path, but the visitors were spared by an offside flag from the assistant referee and the ‘goal’ was disallowed amid howls of protest from the Broughty bench and support.

In the 11th minute Thom headed over the Broughty bar before home defender Gregor Anderson was booked for pulling Colin Strickland back as he tried to advance.

Player-manager Jamie McCunnie quickly followed him into the referee’s book when he brought down Linlithgow midfielder Owen Ronald on the edge of the box, but the free-kick failed to amount to anything.

Rose threatened again with just over half an hour played, when a good strike from Robert Sloan forced a save from home keeper John Sinclair, but ball didn’t fall kindly for Tommy Coyne.

At the other end, Kevin Milne and Jordan Garden linked well, and Darren Hill was forced to pull off a fine one-handed save from Garden’s shot, tipping the ball over the bar to keep his side on level terms.

In the 38th minute, Garden was booked for a foul on a Thom and the Broughty man was perhaps fortunate that it wasn’t a red card.

In the final minutes of the half a chance presented itself to Ruari Maclennan but he couldn’t control the ball, shot high of the target and the sides went in at half-time goalless.

Early in the second half, Garden played in Kesson who found the onrushing Milne but he shot wide of the post.

Another Broughty half chance materialised just before the hour mark, this time Danny Cavanagh’s free-kick was cleared to Garden but he headed wide of the goal.

Milne then tried an effort from 25 yards which went wide of the Rose post before he was thwarted by the goalkeeper minutes later.

Ruari Maclennan was booked for a foul on Kesson and, after a spell with little in the way of goalmouth action for either side, Danny Cavanagh was replaced by Frser Smith foir the home side.

As Rose pushed for a winner, in the 77th minute Iain Gray played a fine cross into the box, but no one managed to get on the end of it.

Sloan was replaced by Luke Whelan before Rose finally made the vital breakthrough in the 80th minute.

Coyne’s shot was deflected out by Graham Hay for a corner which was taken by Ronald. He swung the ball in towards the near post and Thom got across his marker to bullet a fierce header low into the net from six yards to give the Rose the lead.

For a spell immediately after the goal Broughty were pegged back as the visitors sought a second to kill the game off.

But they couldn’t get it and were almost punished Broughty broke upfield and should have levelled.

Hay headed the ball into the path of Jamie Winter and he ran goalwards but at the crucial time scuffed his resulting shot and it went wide when he should have done better.

Both sides then made changes with Martyn Shields replacing replacing Ruari Maclennan for the visitors and Liam McCartney replacing Garden for the home side.

Linlithgow boss Bradley then made his third and final switch as Strickland was replaced by Darren Smith.

In the final minutes, Ronald had a chance to put the match beyond doubt for Linlithgow, but his shot lacked sufficient power to trouble Sinclair in the Broughty goal.

However in the end it didn’t matter as Rose achieved a welcome and valuable victory on a day when some other results in the league went in their favour.