“HAIL the gallant Rosey Posey” proclaimed a couple of banners around a packed Prestonfield and the words proudly rang out in song at the end of a 90 minutes in which Linlithgow Rose will wonder how they did not pull off a Scottish Cup shock. Raith Rovers are in the hat for the fourth round but it was the Juniors whose valiant performance deserved celebration.
Ryan Conroy’s hotly-disputed 68th-minute penalty and a late header by Paul Watson earned the SPFL side a victory they desperately needed after five games without a win, but Rose were left ruing an inability to find a way past an inspired David McGurn, pictured, in the visitors’ goal.
“I said to the players at half-time, if this game gets stopped now it’s you that’s getting all the praise,” said Linlithgow manager Danny Smith. “I’ve achieved what I wanted to do today and that’s put Linlithgow Rose on the map. Against a full-time senior club, we pushed them all the way. I’m a very proud man.”
But for McGurn’s heroics, Rose would have reached the interval with the lead their play deserved. The impressive Roddy Maclennan was heavily involved throughout but dragged his shot wide in the ninth minute before Smith raced from his own half only to see McGurn repel his eventual shot. The ’keeper turned Colin Strickland’s low free-kick round the post, then saved again from the striker.
“In the big guns against the minnows games, you need to take your chances, but we gave them their get out of jail card,” added Smith.
Following the break, momentum faded, yet Raith’s goal still came against the run of play. As Mark Stewart drove to the bye-line, full-back Gary Thom needlessly swiped the feet from him and referee John McKendrick pointed to the spot. “I didn’t touch him,” insisted Thom afterwards.
With Conroy’s successful penalty, Rose’s hopes of a shock wilted and Watson was afforded a free header from Lewis Vaughan’s corner to seal victory for Raith.
“A lot of credit goes to Linlithgow Rose,” said Rovers manager Grant Murray. “I think everybody outwith the football club would have loved to have seen us slip up. Linlithgow were going to enjoy this game whether they won or lost but the only way we could enjoy it was by winning and we’re in the hat for the next round, so we’re delighted.”
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