Redhall Star vs Bathgate Thistle AFC

Lothian West
vs
November 22, 2014
Score: 1 - 4

Match Report

Bathgate travelled through to Edinburgh for a league match against Redhall Star on the back of 4 previous wins and looking to keep the good run going. Redhall have been doing well this season so Thistle knew that they were going to be up for this to maintain momentum.
After a lot of overnight rain the pitch at Redhall Park was very heavy and slippy underfoot. This meant that it was going to be hard to play flowing football and both teams spent the early part of the match getting used to the conditions. Bathgate had an immediate advantage by winning the toss and choosing to have the Redhall keeper facing into the low winter sun to begin with. The signs were promising for Bathgate as they looked to have settled quickest and the front two of Gary Pollock and Mark Neil certainly appeared to be causing problems with their pace and running.
After 14 minutes Bathgate took the lead following some good pressure. A clearance was picked up wide on the right by Declan McMillan who sent a fine ball into the back post where Pollock was lurking to turn the ball back across goal for Glen McMahon to knock home. Redhall were claiming for offside but the referee was having none of it and Bathgate were off and running. Soon after, Neil Davey burst through into the box and forced the keeper into a fine low save with a powerfully struck shot.
It was all Bathgate at this point and McMillan sent a long range shot over the bar, his second attempt like this of the day. Almost immediately after this Bathgate doubled their lead when the Redhall keeper scuffed his clearance out to Mcmahon who sent a composed finish back over the keepers head from around 35 yards and into the net.
After this, Redhall tried to get themselves back into the game but the Thistle defence of McMillan, Tugman, Anderson and Nisbet were equal to the task and repelled anything thrown at them. On the half hour mark Pollock showed great skill to beat two men in the box and fired a low cross across the box which just evaded Davey from knocking home at the back post. The main chance for Redhall in the half came in 38 minutes when a kick from the keep er caused confusion in the Thistle midfield and bounced through for the Redhall forward to to chase through. Under pressure from Tugman and Anderson, and with Gordon Clark racing out the striker could only knock over the bar. Two more chances presented themselves to Bathgate in the half and the strike pairing of Neil and Pollock were both unfortunate in not being able to put them away.
The team-talk at half time was for more of the same and to see the game out from a strong position. The team did this and then some by immediately taking the game to Redhall. Within two minutes the lead was extended further after good work between himself and Barrie Lewis to pressure the defence and allow Pollock to again burst through the defenders just inside the box. From here his low cross was knocked past the goalkeeper and into the net from one of the Redhall defenders.
Shortly after this Redhall were handed a lifeline when Tugman was sent off for a last man challenge just inside the box. There was no complaints from the Bathgate team and was an unfortunate blot on the performance of Tugman who has slotted in well to turn in some fine performances in teh centre of defence. From the penalty the Redhall striker fired low and hard into the corner with Clark being sent the other way. With a man less and a goal against them it was going to be a test to see how Bathgate reacted to this and whether Redhall would throw everything at the game to salvage a result. Those questions were emphatically answered by Bathgate when more  pressure in the box saw McMahon complete a fine hat-trick as he picked up a bouncing ball and fired a volley across himself from around 15 yards and into the corner, past the dive of the keeper.
Throughout the game the work of Lewis and Davey on the wings caused the Redall defence to be under constant pressure and both ran themselves into the ground to keep the pressure on as the game drew towards its conclusion. As the game wore on and the pitch deteriorated the opportunities for both teams diminished but Bathgate still had one or two more close calls. the first came when the two substitutes, Sean Southall and Stephen Gardiner combined to carve out a chance. Southall with a great outside of the foot pass for Gardiner to run at the defenders and get a good shot away which was well saved by the keeper. A final opportunity presented itself as Bathgate closed the game out in the corners, forcing the defenders to give away fouls against Lewis in particular as his strength on the ball was too much for them. A low driven free-kick by Lewis was met on the volley by Southall which sailed just over. To be fair to Redhall, they kept on pushing and had the final chance when the striker sent a shot in which Clark pushed past the post.
On the day it was a dominant performance from Bathgate and credit to the team for never giving Redhall the chance to settle at all. Another three points picked up now sees the team push themselves up into third position and an away cup match against East Linton next week.

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