WHAT a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, Linlithgow Rose were on the canvas after losing the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup Final 1-0 to Auchinleck Talbot and in turn ruining their fine 49-game unbeaten run. Today, however, they were making space in their ever growing trophy cabinet at Prestonfield after claiming their third trophy of the campaign.
Mark Bradley’s men overwhelmed Camelon 5-3 at a sun-drenched Creamery Park in Bathgate to lift the Fife and Lothians Cup on Saturday, playing a brand of football which has already seen them lift the League Cup and the Super League title.
As cup finals go, this was a cracker from start to finish. There were goals aplenty in each half, with Linlithgow also missing enough chances to take their score into double figures.
Linlithgow opened their account after only five minutes thanks to great play down the left hand side by Tommy Coyne. His shot was blocked by the defence, but came out to Colin Strickland and he rifled the ball into the net from ten yards.
On 20 minutes, Calum Smith – who would later earn the man-of-the-match award – scored to give Rose a two-goal cushion, but Camelon, with former Linlithgow captain Danny Smith as their manager, weren’t out of it and pulled a goal back with a peach of a free-kick from Blair Batchelor. He curled the ball up and over the wall and into the top corner after 28 minutes.
Camelon’s tails were up and they equalised with five minutes to go before the break. Marty Wright turned Adam Nelson inside out down the left wing before cutting the ball low to the near post, where Colin Allison turned the ball home.
A goal before the break is usually a good lift for any side, but it wasn’t to be for Camelon. Only a couple of minutes passed before Linlithgow were in front again. Coyne was played in by Strickland down the left and he turned inside and unleashed a rocket to leave the keeper stranded.
A goal just before the break was a bonus and a goal just after the restart was the jackpot that Linlithgow plundered. Coyne dropped a super ball over the Camelon defence for Ruari MacLennan to lob the keeper into the empty net in 47 minutes. On the hour mark, Smith turned his marker in the box and slid a shot under the keeper’s body for Linlithgow’s fifth. Camelon were under a lot of pressure, but did pull a goal back in the 70th minute when Steven Graham headed home.
There was no more scoring, but Linlithgow carved the Camelon defence open time and time again and just couldn’t beat an inspired keeper in Michael Watson. Smith, Coyne and sub Roddy MacLennan all missed chances they would normally bury, but it didn’t matter as Linlithgow ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Bradley was delighted with his side’s performance and praised them for banishing last Sunday’s loss. “They showed on Wednesday night [by beating Newtongrange] they were back up for it and today it was another step in a terrific season,” he said. “We all had a wee chat about the season and I’m delighted because they look like they are going to kick on again and finish the season strongly. They’re still gutted after Sunday, but we’ll kick on again the same as Auchinleck did last season after losing to Shotts previously.”
Man of the match Calum Smith was delighted to, firstly, be on from the start and, secondly, score a couple of goals. “It’s always good to get a man of the match award, but it’s just great to get a result. It was very important to get that goal either side of half time and it’s great to be given a chance to show what we can do,” he said. “The goals were spread around today and to be truthful we should have scored a lot more, but we’re just happy to still be in a position to finish the season well.”
Rose will now try and finish the season by defeating Bonnyrigg Rose in the East of Scotland Cup Final on Wednesday, again at Creamery Park, before they play Kelty in their final Super League match on Saturday. On this form, you would fancy them to win both.
Camelon: Watson, Bell, Fullerton, Graham, McGowan, Kelly, Batchelor, Ure, Allison, Kelbie, Wright. Subs: Brass, McCafferty, Kerr, Hogarth.
Linlithgow: Scott, Wilson, Nelson, Gibson, Ovenstone, Tyrrell, Ru MacLennan, Shirra, Strickland, Coyne, Smith. Subs: McArthur, Ro MacLennan, Manson, Dunn, Hay.