Donnelly fires rose to victory

Largs Thistle 0 Linlithgow Rose 1

TEN-MAN Linlithgow Rose lifted the Scottish Junior cup for the third time in nine years with a wonder goal from defender Kevin Donnelly and held on grimly after sub Steven Manson was given a straight red card only minutes after coming on.

Linlithgow were worthy winners as they wrestled the cup back east after Auchinleck Talbot won it for Ayrshire last season. There may have been only one goal in it but in terms of pressure and chances created it was Linlithgow who take the honours there as well.

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The two sides took to the field in front of First Minister Alex Salmond who counts himself as a "Black Bitch", meaning he was born within hearing distance of the bells from the Kirk in the heart of Linlithgow.

Largs had the first chance when Eddie Walton lobbed the keeper but his effort drifted past the post. Linlithgow responded, first with a super hit from Tommy Coyne which was blocked by the keeper out to Gordon Herd, who also had his shot blocked. Linlithgow were dominant in the opening 15 minutes but every time they had a chance it was either straight at the keeper or high and wide.

However, Largs were still dangerous and Andy Monaghan brought out the best in Linlithgow keeper Steven Pinkowski with a snap shot from 25 yards which the keeper did well to tip round the post. Then just before the half-time whistle, Linlithgow were awarded a free kick 25 yards out – prime range for a Mark Tyrrell special. He stepped up and his shot was net bound but keeper Stephen Connick saved superbly with a full-length dive to his right.

The first half had chances but once again it looked like a game where both sides were more afraid of losing. Largs had put a tremendous amount of effort into the opening half hour without making any leeway and were in danger of running out of steam before the game was over. Linlithgow, on the other hand, were seeing the experience in their line-up have an effect. They weren't rushing around blindly; they were to a certain extent controlled.

All that first-half lethargy was blown out the window in the 53rd minute. The Largs defence were caught napping as they waited on the referee blowing for a free-kick in their favour and two men down injured. The referee didn't agree and waved play on.

The Largs defence failed to clear their lines and the loose ball came out to Linlithgow full-back Donnelly some 30 yards out in the old inside right position. Without taking a first touch, he volleyed the ball straight as an arrow into the top corner of the net with the keeper helpless. A tremendous goal coming from a man who can count the number of goals he's scored on one hand.

Linlithgow pushed forward and had several chances to double their lead. Largs came back at Linlithgow again and Monaghan again forced his way into the box, this time though he pushed the ball too far forward and the chance was lost.

Linlithgow went on the offensive again and a corner from Stewart McArthur was tipped over the bar in spectacular fashion by keeper Connick. It was end-to-end stuff now with Largs striker Ryan Deas going on a 30-yard run deep into the box but his final effort was tipped round the post by Pinkowski.

Linlithgow were the more dangerous side.

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For a spell Largs looked like a tired side as Linlithgow took command. Rose boss Dave Baikie, who had sent out a line-up that wasn't the expected, took off Livingstone and Bradley, replacing them with Stevie Manson and Chris McMenamin. Linlithgow were now playing with a great deal of confidence and when they were awarded another free kick , again 30 yards out and in prime range for another Tyrrell special. The supporters were on their feet. Again he stepped up and sent the ball to the other corner than the last time, but again, Connick brought out another superb save to tip the ball out for a corner.

Manson, who had been on the park only five minutes, was given a straight red card for what initially looked like a hard but fair tackle on Alan McCabe. The referee, in a good position near the tackle, immediately brought out the red card with McCabe having to be substituted by Craig Black.

Largs then stepped up a gear and found some fresh energy. They started to pummel the Linlithgow defence and there was some desperate defending from their back four.

Largs, though, were not making a great impression on the Linlithgow defence and in breakaways Linlithgow showed just how dangerous they could be.

Sub Roddy McLennan combined beautifully with Tommy Coyne in a fast break up the field. Coyne slid his effort just wide of the post after McLennan had fed him in.

In the end it was a worthy win for Linlithgow. Over the piece they had more and better chances than their Ayrshire counterparts. Connick was the busier of the two keepers, making superb saves from Tyrrell and Tommy Coyne. The game needed a piece of magic to win it and that magic came from the sponsors' man of the match – Donnelly.

He and his partner on the opposite full-back position, Jordi Virgini, were terrific at the back for Linlithgow.

Largs: Connick, Davidson, Jamieson, Walton, McCabe (Black), McMillan, Robertson( McClure), J P Dow (Marks), Monaghan, Lappin, Deas, Subs: Gait, Barnes, M Dow, Greenwood.

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Linlithgow: Pinkowski, Donnelly, Virgili, Ward, Wilson, Tyrrell, Livingstone (Manson), Bradley (McMenamin), Herd( McLennan), Coyne, McArthur. Subs: Smith, Kelly, Flannery, McPherson.