Bathgate entered this year’s East of Scotland Cup with an ‘away’ tie against West Lothian’s newest team Sporting Livi, although there were a few familiar faces in their line-up on Sat. With the weather putting pay to the Sporting Livi pitch on Friday they moved the game to Bathgate which obviously suited us, the away side. The game began in bizarre fashion as Sporting Livi only fielded 10 players for the first five minutes or so until the eleventh man appeared and joined the match. In the time it took him to appear Bathgate had most of the ball but little in the way of progression towards the Sporting Livi goal.
It took a little over 10 minutes before the first couple of shots, Pettigrew sending a free kick over the bar and Southall dragging a shot past the post. Sporting Livi were being fairly direct when they had the chance and their number 9 was causing a few issues but nothing to worry Brown in the Bathgate goal until he beat the offside trap and allowed the ball to settle in the box before finishing well into the corner to give Sporting Livi a 1-0 lead. Not long after Bathgate had to make a change as McMillan was replaced by McCraw. A few minutes later Smith was sent clear on the left and as he cut across the chasing defender he appeared to lose his footing before his shot was blocked from 16 yards.
This seemed to shake Bathgate to life and soon the play was heading in one direction, Coulter taking a pass inside from Nisbet and shooting from 25 yards that hit the post and Southall unable to beat the keeper with the re-bound. Bathgate were again attacking down their left when Coulter cut in and flighted a ball into the box that Southall prodded home from 8 yards following what looked like a hand ball from the Sporting defender. A second goal did not come before half-time despite two close calls from corners.
The pulp free orange juice must have been good at half time because Bathgate started quickly in the second half but somehow did not take advantage of a number of good openings, Nisbet had two chances in the box, the first was blocked before the second, when he had meandered all the way to the six yard box, was denied by a tremendous sliding tackle. Bathgate at this point were banging on the doors and the second goal finally came when Smith smashed a fastball across goal that the keeper got his hands to but couldn’t stop it reaching McCraw who headed home.
Moments later Pettigrew sent a free kick into the box that Coulter met on the stretch but couldn’t quite get enough power in the shot to score. A blur of openings came and went before Bathgate were left to muse their squandered chances as Sporting were awarded a free kick on their right, the ball was played to the back post and a header was bulleted home to make it 2-2 with 20 minutes to play. Bathgate tried to up the pace again with a series of massive attacks, McCraw heading wide from a Lewis cross and Neil volleying over from a loose ball at a corner but the failure to put away a third goal left Bathgate in dire straits when a chance presented itself to Sporting late in the 90 minutes but Brown was on hand to save.
The game went into extra time much to the annoyance of pretty much everyone and it was Sporting who made the first chance when a quick break down their right ended up with a ball across goal that looked certain to be put into the net only for McKie to block two yards out and concede a corner. The cure for Bathgate came a moment or two later as Lewis sent Bathgate 3-2 up with a tremendous shot from the right, taking the ball 20 yards across the goal and drilling it across the keeper into the bottom corner. Just two minutes later Bathgate won a corner on the right, Nisbet firing it low into the six yard box and Pettigrew gleefully tapped home for his fifth of the season.
At 4-2 the game was done and the final period of extra time produced several good chances for Bathgate with Davey and Lewis causing major problems running in behind and creating space for others. Lyndsey had a good chance but shot over, Davey also shot over from a cross before Coulter received a pass from a Davey run and with one touch had the oasis of the box to himself to round the keeper and slot home for Bathgate’s fifth and final goal.