Gribben did not walk – McGonigal

BO'NESS boss Alan McGonigal has laughed off claims that Darren Gribben had walked out on the East Region Super League leaders, describing it as "mischief-making by jealous people".

McGonigal says someone has been putting two and two together and coming up with the wrong answer after the striker missed a friendly last weekend.

"It is rubbish for people to be claiming that Darren has walked out on us," declared the manager. "He has been in Las Vegas on a holiday with his girlfriend, simple as that. We've had a laugh about it and were actually hoping we'd be able to go to the League Cup Final (between Linlithgow and Camelon on Wednesday night) but I couldn't get finished in time.

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"I think it is mischief-making by jealous people who still want to see us fall. You'd think I've had millions to spend on players this season but the fact of the matter is that I've had the same as (previous boss] Eric Sinclair did."

With five games to play, Bo'ness are seven points clear at the top of the table and also have a game in hand on second-place Newtongrange, who have faltered in recent weeks after a tremendous opening half of the season.

Hill of Beath and Linlithgow both have six games in hand on the leaders but are on 21 and 22 points respectively.

"I think two more wins will secure the title," predicted McGonigal. "If we get to 45 points I don't think anyone will be able to catch us, especially as we've still got Bathgate, Linlithgow and Hill of Beath still to play."

Tomorrow, Bo'ness take on Lochee United at Newtown Park (2.30pm kick-off) and are showing a resolve this season that is certainly pleasing their manager. On three occasions since the turn of the year, Bo'ness have responded to defeats by coming out in their next and bouncing back with a win. Most recently, they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Hill of Beath but ensured the door wasn't allowed to be opened wider for the chasing pack as they beat Kelty 1-0 in their next outing. "Hill of Beath was one of those games but, not for the first time this season, we went back to basics in our next match and managed to beat Kelty," said McGonigal. "We defended resolutely and didn't allow them a single chance in the game."

Turning his attention to Lochee United, he noted: "They are a team who like to play on the counter-attack and what I would describe as their front four could probably get into any team in the League. We can see the finishing line, though, and we've just to make sure now that we get over it, learning lessons from what has happened to both Dundee and Alloa in the SFL this season as we do so."

Elsewhere in the top flight tomorrow Linlithgow will be on Super League business for only the second time since the beginning of February when they take on Bonnyrigg Rose at New Dundas Park. Both teams will be aiming to bounce back from midweek defeats, Bonnyrigg having gone down 1-0 at Whitburn in the league while Linlithgow lost 2-1 to Camelon in the League Cup Final.

"Where we finish in the Super League is still very important to us," admitted Lithgae boss Dave Baikie. "While we still have a Junior Cup final to look forward to, we want to finish as high up that table as we possibly can."

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Bonnyrigg go into the game lying third, Alan Miller's men having won five of their last seven league games to stave off the possibility they might be relegated the season after being crowned as champions. Glenrothes, who are seven points adrift at the foot of the table, are looking as though they'll be the team to fall through the relegation trapdoor this season and Musselburgh will be looking to help them on their way when they meet tomorrow in a game being played at Forrester Park in Tranent.

Newtongrange will be hoping to halt a run of three straight defeats when they travel to Camelon, who will be cock-a-hoop after claiming the season's first piece of silverware, while Bathgate boss Graeme Love will be pleased to have Jim Lister and Graeme McLaren available again to face Kelty at Creamery Park after they both missed last weekend's home defeat at the hands of Lochee due to them being away with Scotland Juniors.

In the remaining game, on-form Whitburn – Derek Strickland's side are unbeaten in six games – will aim to keep up the good work at Hill of Beath.