Thistle took part in the inaugural Armadale Thistle Amateurs tournament this past weekend along with the hosts, Blackridge Vale of Craig and Whitburn Bluebell.
The tournament was played in good spirit with a format of semi finals on Friday evening followed by the final and third place matches on Saturday afternoon.
The draw seen Thistle paired with Bluebell on Friday evening. Our opponents showed exactly why they made life tough for us in the 2013/14 Premier 2 campaign and we’re always dangerous on the break. Our side dealt admirably with the threat though, with keeper Gordon Clark making some top class stops to ensure that that there was a 0-0 stalemate at half time.
Thistle grew into the match though and, with just seven minutes to go, took the lead when Callum McTaggart dribbled out of defence before putting Mark Neil through to notch his third goal in three pre-season matches.
Unfortunately the lead was not to last, though, and Whitburn eventually ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of two late penalties, the first within 2 minutes of the re-start and the second in injury time.
The result meant that Bluebell would take on – and ultimately defeat 4-1 -hosts Armadale Thistle in Saturdays final and our side would face Blackridge Vale of Craig for third place.
This turned out to be a very competitive and evenly matched fixture played for the most part in constant rain, resulting in fast paced football as the ball skidded across the surface.
Good chances at both ends went a begging at both ends, in part due to some terrific goalkeeping, and again there were no first half goals.
The second half was just as even but it was Blackridge who would break the deadlock with a header at the back post on the hour mark which snuck in despite the best efforts of keeper Calum Grant who, like Gordon on Friday, had an outstanding match.
Despite the setback, Thistle never looked defeated and within ten minutes were back on level terms after Blair Welsh, standing in at sweeper in a departure from his usual full back role, started off a terrific move which resulted in Scott Nisbet receiving the ball out on the left flank, beating his man to the bye line and picking out Nicky Miller with a cross to score his first goal for the club.
The final twenty minutes were failed to produce a winner despite numerous chances from both sides and the draw was a fair result. With this being the 3rd place playoff, though, a penalty shoot out was required to find a winner.
Thistle went first, with both teams scoring all five regulation penalties before sudden death. Keeper Calum Grant then scored the sudden death penalty which would eventually seal the win as Blackridge missed their sixth.
All involved with Bathgate Thistle CFC Saturday Amateurs would like to thank our hosts for their invitation and hospitality and wish all participating teams the best of luck in season 2014/15.
Next up for Thistle is a home match on Saturday 9th August vs Uphall Station at Bathgate Sports Centre. Kickoff is 2pm and all supporters are very welcome – both at the match and at The Glenmavis Tavern afterwards for refreshments.