Two days after their opening day win Bathgate found themselves away to Linlithgow in another local derby, although playing in Linlithgow in midweek is becoming an early season tradition. Everyone was determined to follow up a good performance and win with another but it was always likely to be a very difficult match and the slightly longer grass on the pitch than normal wouldn’t make it any easier. The team had one enforced changed from Saturday as Stephen Coulter came in for Euan who was unavailable.
Bathgate opened the match well and in confident mood, a couple of early shots from Dougie, Neil and Mark missing the target and two corners causing issues in the Linlithgow defence, the second of which flashed right across the face of goal and required a tap in. It was perhaps surprising that Linlithgow took the lead with a long ball into their left channel bouncing into the box and holding on the grass, Gordon came for it but could only manage to punch it onto the Linlithgow striker who turned and slotted into the unguarded net from the fortunate ricochet.
It took Bathgate a few minutes to gather their senses following the goal but they were soon on the front foot again as Linlithgow continually looked to hit on the break, a Jack corner was again inviting as it went right across the six yard line, when the ball was thrown back into the box it was played back out to Jack on the right, with everyone expecting a third cross in quick succession he cut it back to the edge of the box for Frankie to curl a first time shot into the far top corner and leave the keeper with only viewing rights.
At this point half-way through the half Bathgate were on top with Linlithgow mainly looking long and playing balls over the top for the pace of their strikers, Bathgate’s midfield of Neil, Stuart, Frankie and Dougie were bossing proceedings – Dougie twice getting to the ball on the bye-line and forcing it back into play only to see no takers on the six yard box. On the half hour mark Bathgate took the lead, first Dougie made a run from right to left and laying the ball for Neil who brought it back in from the left to the middle, he was blocked as advanced into the box, the ball landed out at Stuart’s feet who dinked a ball in behind the Linlithgow defence as they were coming out, Coulter timed his run in behind to get onto the pass before rounding the keeper and sliding the ball into the net.
A few minutes later Dougie again won a challenge on the bye-line, as the ball was bouncing around in the box it found it’s way to Coulter who struck a mis-hit shot towards the back post that was tapped in by Neil only for the ref to blow for offside, much to the annoyance of Bathgate as Dougie and the defender were still on the bye-line. Shortly after Gordon was forced into a good diving save to his right to prevent a goal and concede a corner but much to Bathgate’s delight, right on half time Dougie took a pass from Craig on the right, advanced forward, beat a man and played the ball for Mark to run onto, Mark caught the ball and ran along the by-line, he was tackled in the act of crossing the ball spinning past the keeper into the net despite the desperate attempts to clear it by the right back. Half Time 3-1.
Linlithgow came out of the traps quickly in the second half, forcing Gordon into a good save before the scorer of the first got onto a long ball but could only chip it over Gordon and the bar. He was not to be denied though and after picking the ball up on the left touchline, after loud appeals from Bathgate for a free kick, he drove into the box and drilled a low shot into the corner from around 14 yards. 3-2 and Linlithgow were piling on the pressure with Bathgate now mainly playing on the break. The defence being marshalled by Glen and Callum were winning the majority of the balls coming out of the air, when they didn’t Gordon was on hand to stop any shots. One of his best saves of the night seen him push away a drive from the striker looking for his hat-rick after he evaded two challenges, Craig completing the clearance.
Although, Linlithgow were pushing hard they were restricted to a number of long range efforts that sailed wide until they hit the bar from a header from close range and Gordon pushed the re-bound over the bar. That was really the final scare for Bathgate as Nissy, Craig, Glen and Beefy repelled the attacks in the remaining minutes. In fact it was Bathgate who almost added a fourth, when Coulter hit the bar from a long throw and first Dougie then Nissy were inches from connecting with crosses before the Linlithgow keeper. Final score 3-2 to Bathgate and 6 points to kick the season off after two matches.
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