WEST LOTHIAN YOUTH LEAGUE: Sunday 1 May, 2016, Bathgate Sports Centre
Bathgate were left to rue a multitude of missed chances as league-leaders Broxburn Colts finished with nine men on a day of high drama. A game peppered with controversy saw two visiting players and a coach sent off. Despite their numerical advantage in the second half, Thistle couldn’t kill off their near rivals and had to settle for a point.
Broxburn moved ahead just five minutes into the match when a defensive mix-up was seized upon inside the six-yard area. However, the home side recovered and settled into their passing rhythm. When Kieran’s exquisite through pass sent David in the the Broxburn goalkeeper on 17 minutes, the equaliser looked on.
The keeper emerged to dive at David’s feet and knock the winger spinning into the air. The loose ball was prodded home by Bailey to level the score at 1-1. For the hosts, there was a consequence. David landed awkwardly and was taken to hospital with what proved to be a broken collar bone.
Two minutes from the break, Broxburn were reduced to ten men when Joe received a second booking for handling the ball. Bathgate held the momentum entering the second half and moved ahead when a shot was parried into Bailey’s path, and he converted from close range.
At that point, one of Broxburn’s coaches was ordered away from the sidelines for abusing the referee. Players and parents from the visiting camp joined in the vitriol amid an unpleasant atmosphere. Broxburn seemed to take inspiration, though, and equalised with a header to tie the game at 2-2.
Bailey struck again to complete his hat-trick – another instinctive effort from close range – and at 3-2 the boys in blue tried to see the game out. Broxburn lost another player for dissent with around 20 minutes remaining. Again, they rallied and forced another equaliser through midfielder Steven.
Bathgate probed and pressed for the rest of the game in search of a winning goal. Darren’s rocketed free-kick from 25 yards was netbound until the outstanding Broxburn goalkeeper sprung high to his left to push the ball for corner. Elliot then hit the inside of the post for Thistle in the dying seconds, only for the ball to bounce out and clear.
Broxburn’s resolve saw them hang on for a point from a game few involved are likely to forget in a hurry. The draw leaves Bathgate fourth in the league, nine points behind leaders Broxburn with four games remaining.