WEST LOTHIAN YOUTH LEAGUE: Sunday 9 October, 2016, Craigswood Sports Centre, Livingston

Bathgate Thistle moved top of West Lothian’s A League after handing Gartcairn their first defeat of the season. Two goals by Dylan, one from Billy and one from Bailey secured a deserved 4-1 win on an excellent grass surface at Craigswood.

dylanAll five strikes in the game involved real quality from two good footballing sides. Thistle overwhelmed their Lanarkshire visitors in the first 30 minutes despite falling behind initially, and that set the tone for the rest of the match.

Gartcairn moved ahead with less than a minute played as Bathgate’s defence failed to cope with an attack down the flank. A clever run and cross was blasted high into Barry’s net from close range, and the West Lothian side required real character to recover.

It arrived just two minutes later as they promptly ran up the park and equalised.

Billy’s tenacious run and low delivery from the left wing found Dylan in the penalty area. He hit an instinctive first-time effort with his left foot across the goalkeeper and high into the far corner of the net.

barryWith less than 15 minutes played, Bathgate took the lead and weren’t to relinquish it for the remainder of the morning. Billy and Bailey linked well to find Dylan on the far side of the penalty area. He jinked inside his marker and angled another left-footed effort into the opposite corner.

Billy put the boys in blue 3-1 up before the half-hour mark. He drove past an opponent on the left and cut inside before prodding an accurate finish low into the net with his right foot. That affirmed Bathgate’s control but Gartcairn still carried plenty danger. It required a terrific save by Barry in goal to prevent the Lanarkshire side scoring from a through pass before the interval.

At half-time, Bathgate were keen to edge further ahead. James and Elliot had been outstanding and were replaced by Kieran and Craig. Both players were to become instrumental during the second half.

kc-and-rossGartcairn enjoyed spells of pressure after the restart without causing too many major problems. Their pace on the break wasn’t something Bathgate could ignore, though. Marshalled by Darren and Matty, the back four held firm and Barry remained assured in goal. Sean was also having a superb game in the middle.

Sam and Ross entered midfield to stabilise things for the final period, with David taking a rest after a tireless display.  There was to be one more flourish when Leon sprinted forward to tee up Bailey for the fourth Bathgate goal. The striker controlled his full-back cross before slotting it home from six yards, thus completing an excellent display from Thistle.