Horrid Day for Saturdays
Bathgate returned to league action after two cup ties in two weeks to find themselves playing an away match for only the second time this season. What was always likely to be a difficult game against Barca Milton became even more so when, for a variety of reasons Bathgate’s available playing squad was greatly reduced. That being the case everyone was quietly confident of taking the points and that thought was strengthened in the opening minutes when Bathgate attacked on the right, the ball was played into the box where Park and Lewis were making it difficult for Barca to clear resulted in the ball becoming loose and Stuart Jack arrived right on queue to hook a left footed shot, as the ball was on the rise, past the keeper and into the corner from 16 yards.
A goal to the good Bathgate continued to flow forward and twice Kenny Park was played in on the left side of the box, running at pace both times his left footed shots couldn’t add to the scoreline as the first went just wide and the second was saved by the keeper. Barca began to push Bathgate back after the second chance and won a succession of corners that Bathgate were struggling to deal with and from one of the corners the ball was shuttled around about 25 yards out before it found it’s way to Bathgate’s left hand side, the cross was looped into the box, the forward just beat Blair Welsh, who was filling in for Gordon Clark in goals, to the ball and head into the net.
If that was a blow it was nothing like the sucker punch a few minutes later when a break away down Bathgate’s right saw the striker come in and hit a shot in at the near post that Welsh got his hands to but couldn’t keep out. 2-1 down Bathgate took hold of the match again and created a number of chances, twice McTaggart got in behind the Barca defence, the first from a fantastic 40 yard Nisbet pass, unfortunately the bounce beat McTaggart in the box then as he was clear he trod on the ball and again lost the chance. It was however to be 3rd time lucky when a slide rule pass from Love sent McTaggart racing into the box and he drilled his shot low and hard into the far corner for the equaliser.
Along with the openings that were being created, Park was called offside 3 times that were dubious and then a decision to halt Coulter after he had taken the ball around the keeper which was odd and very frustrating. Pak then had a net bound shot charged down in the six yard box before Coulter cleared the bar with an effort from 25 yards. Just as it looked like a 5th goal was not going to come it duly arrived but for Barca, another corner was being cleared in stages when the ball became loose on the Bathgate left, again the ball was looped into the box and an equally looping header agonisingly dropped under the bar to make it 3-2. As the half drew to a close Welsh made a stunning point blank save inside his six yard box before Lewis had a header turned over from 6 yards from a Coulter cross.
If Bathgate felt they had the better of the play in the first half and no luck it was to pale into insignificance compared to the second half. Bathgate began the much brighter and were attacking down both left and right wings, McTaggart getting two crosses into the box early before Coulter done the same from the left. Love had a shot and Park a header saved before disaster struck. Coulter won the ball on the half way line with help from Nisbet, as he made his way into the box he was tackled and ball rolled to the edge of the box, Jack was following up play but as he struck his shot his knee gave way, test later on showed significant damage that will unfortunately end his season and put a huge hole in the Bathgate side but we all wish Stuart a speedy recovery.
The injury involved a reshuffle, with Bishop taking over in goals and Welsh moving out to centre midfield. The change didn’t alter the flow of the game and before long the equaliser arrived when McTaggart was fouled on the right, Nisbet crossed superbly for Park to out jump the keeper and head home. In between all of this a long kick out by the Barca keeper caused problems for the Bathgate defence that was eventually dealt with. As Bathgate looked for a fourth Park was played in by Lyndsey as he made his way to ward goal he lost balance and was bundled over, what looked like nothing turned out to be quite serious as Park hurt his shoulder when he landed.
A moment or two later Park played in Lewis who faced with the keeper on the right hand side shot low, the ball was blocked by the keepers legs, only to go straight back to Lewis who played a first time ball to Park in the middle of the box, Park taking the ball first time crashed it off the bar with the keeper nowhere. Moments later that was to prove costly as a Bathgate corner was cleared, Barca winning possession on the Bathgate right, a pass forward sent the striker into the box who shot low and into the corner past Bishop’s dive. Insult was added to injury when Bathgate were denied a penalty of the stonewall variety as a cross made its way past the Barca defender, it struck his arm stopping it dead as two Bathgate players were waiting to pounce 8 yards from goal, the decision was compounded as Barca raced up the pitch and won a corner that was duly headed home to make it 5-3.
A freak deflection/block from a Bathgate clearance 25 yards from goal looped into the air and was heading for the top corner when Bishop got his hands to it to turn it over. Bathgate who were down to 10 men at this point with Park having to go off between the 4th and 5th Barca goals, and will be out for a number of weeks, were still making chances with a header over from 6 yards and a Coulter shot wide from 14 yards meaning Barca seen out the remaining few minutes without too much panic.
Losing the 3 points was a blow but the two injuries made this a far worse day than it might have been. Everyone wishes Stuart and Kenny speedy recoveries from their respective injuries and hope to see them playing in the Thistle blue soon.