Opening day disappointment for The Jags as Sauchie run out 4-nil winners.
Bathgate Thistle went down 4-nil to Sauchie Juniors on the opening weekend of the McBookie.com East Premier League.
Bathgate Thistle manager, Andrew Colley, was always aware of how tough a task it was going to be against a Sauchie side that were relegated from the Super League last year and were looking to get back up at the first time of asking. His task was made all the harder with the absence through injury of club captain, Stuart McLeod, and key defender Hassan Nyang who was missing through suspension. Bathgate went with Michael Watson in goals; Darren MacIsaac and trialist Steven MacMillan in the centre of defence with George Bonnar and Jamie Clark at full back. In midfield were Reece Boyle and David Taylor. The wide midfielders were Iain Griffin and Gordon Harris with Robbie Feeney and Darren Dalrymple occupying the forward positions.
The game was evenly contested in the opening minutes. Bathgate created an opportunity for Robbie Feeney to have a shot from the edge of the box but the strikers shot was far too high to trouble the visiting goalie. Sauchie then won a corner from the left hand side. The cross-ball found a Sauchie player in the box and his header came back off the bar before being cleared to safety.
Sauchie would go ahead shortly after this when James McAteer scored his first competitive goal for his new club. A ball over the top of the full back found Ryan Millar racing to the byeline and his ball across goal evaded the Jags defence to leave McAteer with a tap-in at the back post. 0-1
Bathgate did not let their heads go down and immediately sought to redress the balance. A ball down the left channel found Darren Dalrymple who carried the ball forward before finding Feeney in the box with an excellent delivery. He cut inside the defender to make room for a shot and was brought down by the out-rushing goalkeeper. The penalty was given and he placed the ball himself. His shot was low and hard to the keepers right hand side but he had guessed correctly and managed to save the goalbound attempt.
Despite being behind Bathgate were well in the game at this point and Griffin went close from a header at the back post. Sauchie themselves could have got a second when Watson rushed from his goal to make a clearance but his fresh air kick allowed Millar to get in on goal. The winger waited too long to get his shot off though and when he did could only find the side netting. Watson made amends for his error shortly after though when he saved excellently from a rasping effort from the angle of the box to keep his side level.
Things became more difficult for Bathgate when MacMillan had to leave the pitch with an injury. The Bathgate reshuffle meant that Reece Boyle went back into central defence while Sid Easton came on to replace him. Easton got up to the pace of the match very quickly and managed to fire a dangerous cross into the box which was only inches away from a Bathgate connection. Although Sauchie perhaps deserved to be ahead at the break the home side were not far away. HT 0-1
Bathgate started the second half slowly and Sauchie managed to extend their lead in the 52nd minute. It started from a throw-in on the stand side of the park. This was played into Sauchie’s Morgan who was able to roll the defenders on the edge of the penalty box to create an opening for a shot. He did not have the cleanest of contacts but it had enough on it to find its way into the Bathgate goal despite Watson’s dive. 0-2
Bathgate again tried to apply some pressure on the Sauchie box. David Taylors varied range of passing and Darren Dalrymple’s determined running with the ball seemed the most likely combination to provide a Bathgate goal. Easton twice used his quick feet to gain space in the box but he wasn’t able to provide the finishing touches his play deserved.
Sauchie took advantage. Using the pace of Ryan Millar they opened up the Bathgate defence with long balls over the top. Millar himself scored after leaving the Bathgate defence in his wake – racing through on goal he slipped the ball under Watson for Sauchies third. Barely two minutes later his run into the box ended up with him backheeling the ball into the path of Diack who made no mistake from six yards out. 0-4
The remainder of the game saw Bathgate working hard to get something from the match but they were never able to get near the performance of the first period and could not get any consolation. On reflection, the missed penalty just after the Sauchie opener had been the major turning point of the whole game. Well done to Sauchie who played well. Bathgate however will take heart in knowing they are better than the performance they gave yesterday and will be looking to put that right in the coming weeks.
Bathgate: Watson, Clark, MacIsaac, MacMillan (T), Bonnar, Taylor, Griffin, Boyle, Feeney, Dalrymple, Harris. Subs: Minnock, Easton, Hutton, McIntosh and Calvey (T)
Sauchie: Maitland, McFarlane, Syme, Tapping, Tully, McCulloch, Millar, Shields, Diack, Morgan, McAteer. Subs: Sharp, Hutchison, Flood, Hendrie and Allan
HT 0-1, FT 0-4
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