Gretna 2008 from the Lowland League were Linlithgow Rose’s visitors at Prestonfield on Saturday in the South of Scotland Challenge Cup, writes Susan Hill.
Rose boss Mark Bradley made no fewer than six changes from last week’s winning team and there was a welcome return for Luke Whelan after a long spell out with a ligament injury.
After just three minutes, the visitors fired a warning when Smales was presented with a chance but he shot past the post.
A minute later, keeper Brown saved Ronald’s shot but two minutes later the Rose took the lead with a nicely worked goal, culminating in Collumbine’s low shot finding the corner of the net.
The Rose doubled their lead in the 11th minute when Barbour’s volley from Ronald’s corner hit the underside of the bar and Strickland headed the rebound home from point blank range.
With nearly quarter of an hour played, Scullion’s diving header from Barbour’s freekick went wide of the target, and a few minutes later, there was a setback for Whelan on his road to recovery, when he picked up another injury.
Despite trying to play on, he had to be replaced by Ruari Maclennan.
The first booking of the match went to Gretna’s Holliday for a foul on Ruari Maclennan, and then Demar replaced Wadge. Keeper Brown pulled off a fine diving save from Barbour’s goalbound free-kick, but the Rose scored again before the break when Darren Smith’s low cross from the right was tapped home by Ronald at the back post.
There were some early substitutions in the second half, with Gretna replacing Makunike and Rogers with Pearson and Connelly and the Rose replacing Danny Smith with Allum.
Demar picked up a yellow card for a foul on Strickland, just before Collumbine was replaced by Meikle.
Despite the Rose being very much in control, with just over 15 minutes remaining the visitors clawed a goal back when, after the Rose defence backed off Connelly, the Gretna man unleashed a shot which beat Wilson and found the net.
A few minutes later, however, the Rose restored theirthree-goal advantage when Ruari Maclennan volleyed home at the far post from Allum’s fine cross.
Gretna’s Smith picked up a booking for a foul on Allum, shortly before Ronald’s shot was saved.
Ruari Maclennan pounced on the rebound and passed to Allum, whose strike forced a tremendous instinctive save from Brown.
The Rose scored again before the final whistle when a nice cross from the left found Darren Smith unmarked and he added his name to the scoresheet by banging the ball home from six yards.
A very comfortable victory for the Rose to set them up for this week’s big Scottish Cup tie at home to Huntly and it is to be hoped that there will be a much bigger attendance for that match.
Linlithgow team: Wilson, Barbour, Thom, Scullion, Hutchison, Whelan (Ruari Maclennan 23), Columbine (Meikle 72), Darren Smith, Danny Smith (Allum 66), Ronald, Strickland.
Subs not used: McKinven, Gray, McKinlay.