The incredible Super League revival of Bo’ness under manager Alan McGonigal continued with a spirited victory at home to the title holders Bonnyrigg, who finished with only eight players on the field.
This was a tremendous advert for Junior football – six super goals, three sending-offs and a referee who was blamed by both teams for everything that went wrong.
Bo’ness came back strong after conceding an early goal and assistant coach Stevie Kerrigan said: “This was a massive game for us to win. I don’t think the sending offs would have made much difference because we were starting to dominate. We were taking the game to Bonnyrigg and deserved the win. It doesn’t make any difference whether it was eight, nine or 11 men on the pitch, we were going to win that game.”
The visitors took the lead in only the sixth minute with a great strike from Kevin McLeish. He played a one-two with Sean Grady on the corner of the penalty box before curling a right-footed strike into the far corner. Bo’ness were stung but recovered well and had a strong penalty claim turned down by the referee as the half-time break approached.
Then, with a couple of minutes remaining in the half, Bonnyrigg’s Stephen Thomson was sent off for a bad tackle on Nicky Walker, and two minutes after the interval the teams were level. Chris Hamilton cut in from the left wing and laid the ball out to Will Snowdon in the right full back position and, from fully 30 yards, he blasted the ball into the far corner of the net for a stunning strike.
Bo’ness were rampant now and a second goal had to come. It duly did courtesy of Chris Donnelly in the 53rd minute. From a disputed corner, the ball eventually reached the head of Donnelly and his finish took Bo’ness into the lead for the first time.
Bo’ness were dominant but a calamitous mistake by the young keeper Connor Wallace in the 73rd minute gave Bonnyrigg a lifeline. Snowdon played a pass back to keeper Wallace who tried to play the ball out wide but made a complete hash of it allowing Kevin McLeish to close him down and roll the ball into the empty net for a dramatic equaliser.
Bonnyrigg’s chances of grabbing a winning goal were dashed however only a couple of minutes later. McLeish, the scorer of the equaliser, kicked the ball away in disgust and, having been booked earlier, was given a second yellow card and sent packing leaving Bonnyrigg down to nine.
Bo’ness duly cranked up the pressure and took the lead again in the 83rd minute. Following a corner on the right the ball was played high to the back post where David White, all alone, allowed it to drop before rifling it home from ten yards.
The icing on the cake arrived only a couple of minutes later with a fourth goal. The ball was played long to substitute Craig Morrison and he ran on goal before drilling it past keeper Stephen Ellison to complete the scoring. Finally, just before the final whistle, Bonnyrigg’s Liam McKenna was given second yellow card and sent off leaving them with eight men.
Bo’ness coach Kerrigan added: “We didn’t panic when they equalised but still passed the ball about. Alan McGonigal is a good manager and he’s always telling the players to stay calm and don’t get frustrated. Even when we were one down he said at half-time to keep doing what we were doing because things would happen.
“We’re on a roll just now and the dressing-room is buzzing. We have a huge game coming up when we play Linlithgow but all we’re doing just now is concentrating on the next one.”
For Bonnyrigg manager Max Christie it was a tough one to take. “That was as an unbalance refereeing display as I’ve seen all season. I couldn’t tell what decision he was going to make next.
“It was a nervy performance from the officials that left us baffled most of the time. Apart from that I thought it was a good game of football and one worth watching, if your team wins. The spirit with the players is great and I thought when we equalised we could go one and win but to lose McLeish so soon after the goal killed us off.”
Bo’ness goalscorer Snowdon said: “I had a few shots at goal because we had so much room down the right wing. Scoring the equaliser so soon after the break gave us the confidence to push forward. We always felt we could win this one, the confidence is there.”
Bo’ness: Wallace, Snowdon, Devine, Kennedy, White, Nimmo (Bonnar), Walker, McAvoy (Scanlan), Hyslop, Donnelly, Hamilton (Morrison). Subs: Cane, Donaldson.
Bonnyrigg: Ellison, Hendrie (Noble), Thomson, Dunn, Woodburn, Roseburgh, McLeish, McKenna, Archibald, Grady, Renton. Subs: Hamilton, Burrell, Dickson.