Bathgate started the 2013-14 league campaign with a very difficult match at home to previous LEAFA champions and local club Uphall Station. In the one previous meeting between the sides in the Scottish Cup Uphall ran out 2-1 victors in a tight contest. As always, everyone is a little nervous and desperate to get the season off to a good start and with that in mind it was very pleasing to see Bathgate settle very quickly into a passing routine which ended in a corner being won in the 3rd minute. Stewart Jack took the kick, Scott Nisbet failed to connect at the front post but the ball continued into the middle of the box for the on-rushing Dougie Pettigrew to meet it perfectly and head Bathgate into a 1-0 lead.
Bathgate continued to pass the ball around and look to get in behind Uphall when they had possession but the Uphall right midfielder was causing some alarm at times getting on the ball after drifting infield. Bathgate’s defence were in a no nonsense mood playing against the wind but a free kick on the left offered Uphall their first chance on goal when the striker made a unmarked run into the six yard box but could only head the ball across goal and wide when anything on target would have resulted in an equaliser.
At the other end Pettigrew was inches from finishing a Neil Davey cross, two yard from goal but he couldn’t quite stretch enough to get full contact and ball slipped wide of the post, Frankie Love was then presented with a chance on the edge of the area but his curling effort sailed wide of the far post. As the half drew to a close Gordon Clark was commanding his area and taking the heat out of a number of Uphall through balls for the pace of their strikers.
The second half started in frantic pace with Uphall forcing the issue and immediately bring two good saves from Gordon in goals and forcing a few corners. After having a number of openings in the first half it was perhaps no surprise that Bathgate’s first chance of the second half resulted in a second goal, Frankie Love winning the ball in midfield released Jack, who found Dougie in space on the right, his first touch was good and took him into the box, as he held of the chasing defender he smashed his shot towards goal, the Uphall keeper got his legs to it but the ball looped into the air and dropped into the net for 2-0 scoreline.
Facing an uphill task Uphall went to a 4-2-4 formation to try and get back into the match and it was producing shooting chances mainly from the edge of the box, when they were on target Gordon was getting his hands to them and he made a superb save turning a low drive out for a corner. Bathgate broke away and from the corner with Euan sending Mark Neil clear, as he was being closed by two defenders his shot cannoned off the keeper who had came off his line to avert the danger. A few minutes later Bathgate won a corner, Jack played it in , the Uphall keeper came for it but seemed to get caught with his defender and could only punch the ball straight down, Euan was on hand to slot the ball home and make it 3-0.
At this point Bathgate made a few changes to freshen up the team as legs were tiring, Uphall continued to push forward but the Bathgate defence were holding firm. The post came to Bathgate’s rescue near the end though when a corner broke in the box to one of the Uphall defenders who swivelled and hit a fine left foot shot which curled and crashed off the post and was the cleared to safety. Uphall were able to breach the Bathgate defence with 5 minutes to go when a corner from the right found the striker unmarked to head home from 6 yards. There was one final scare when Uphall hit the bar in the latter stages but a great start to the season and a fully merited 3 points.