Bathgate suffered their first defeat of their pre-season schedule last night, going down 7-2 to Harvester AFC, last season’s Sunday Scottish Cup Runners-up.
The Bathgate team and management are certainly disappointed to have lost by such a scoreline but can have no complaints about the overall outcome of the match. Some basic errors enabled the Harvester to record a comfortable win which was the most frustrating part of the evening as the Thistle squad has been slowly but surely coming together in pre-season and have been working hard ahead of the season starting on 17 August.
The Harvester showed why they have developed such a strong name in Sunday football by being quick to punish the mistakes made by Bathgate but in the early stages it was a fairly even match on a good pitch which had been given an extra-slick coating due to the rain that had fallen before and during the match.
After an initial period of both teams having opportunities and trying to knock the ball about it was Bathgate who opened the scoring with a penalty converted by Dougie Pettigrew. David Reid won the penalty after being subject to some over-friendly defending and the referee decided to point to the spot. A 1-0 lead should have been the trigger for Bathgate to have more confidence but instead they appeared to retreat into themselves and allowed Harvester to score a quick equaliser when Bathgate failed to deal with a corner, allowing the Harvester to get back on level terms.
For the last 15 minutes of the first-half Bathgate continued to give the ball back to the opposition through too many wasted passes, clearances and failure to meet the second ball from tackles and headers. With gifts like this it was no surprise that Harvester managed to add another two well-taken goals before half-time, the third in particular being a fine half-volley from the edge of the area into the roof of the net in the last minute of the half.
The 2nd half brought a change of formation in an attempt to get back into a match which was still very much within reach – with the next goal being all important. Unfortunately this was to again fall to the Harvester as Bathgate failed to attack a ball into the box well enough and the 2nd goal was despatched by the Harvester forward. It was then Bathgate’s turn to get a quick reply when Scott Nisbet was on hand to strike a fine first-time drive low into the corner of the net from the edge of the box. This gave Bathgate hope of finding a way back into the match which looked possible until the referees whistle ruled out a third goal for offside, the Harvester quickly responded and it wasn’t long before they regained their three goal lead when a fine first-time lob from their midfielder found its way over Gordon Clark who was returning back to his line, having been involved in the clearance which led to the ball breaking to outside the box.
With changes continually being made from both sides it was perhaps inevitable that the game would become stretched in the final stages, leaving gaps for both sides to exploit, unfortunately when in good positions Bathgate’s final ball let them down, the Harvester had no such problem, forcing two good saves from Gordon Clark before he was left helpless when Stephen Coulter intercepted a cross at close range but could only deflect into the net and the final goal being struck from 15 yards following a blocked shot that landed nicely for the Harvester winger.