Sunday 28th Sept 2014

Presidents Cup 2nd Round

Broxburn AFC  0  Bathgate Thistle Sunday AFC  3

McGregor (Pen), Peden, McTaggart

Bathgate Thistle SAFA began their quest for glory in the main Association trophy, the Presidents Cup today away to last season’s Morning League Champions Broxburn AFC at Holmes Park.

A strong squad was available for Bathgate, and after a good warm up they started well and started to control the game after the initial 10 minutes when Broxburn pushed for an early lead. Michael Tugman was forced into a several blocks in the opening period to keep Bathgate in the game, then he made a flying save to prevent a spectacular og when Callum McGregor sent a high back pass toward his own goal. Craig O’Connor was in the wars against a speedy winger, and with barely 15mins on the clock he suffered a nasty facial injury that required treatment when he was involved in a collision with his opponent and Tugman to prevent a certain goal at the front post.

Bathgate were getting into the game slowly but surely and with David Henney winning his battles in the air up top it was left to the likes of Craig Bryne, Grant Peden, and Callum McTaggart to get in and onto the knock on’s etc, and after 20 minutes the scoring was opened from the penalty spot after Henney’s shot was blocked by their CB and the referee adjudged it to be a hand ball. Callum McGregor confidently stepped up to the plate and smashed it low to the keeper’s right to Bathgate into the lead.

The Referee had let play flow pretty well other than being slow to get up with the game but he had no option but to flash a yellow to both their number 9 for hoofing the ball away then Craig O’Connor for a meaty challenge on their winger way out wide.With Broxburn trying to use the long ball tactic all the time the ball was missing out our two CM in Douglas Kane and Franny McMillan, but when we started passing it out from the back they soon found their feet and their quick thinking and movement was soon causing Broxburn all kinds of problems. Franny in particular was seeing plenty of the ball and he was sailing past opponents at will at times and it was from one of his runs that we doubled our lead. He collected the ball from a throw in on the left and when he attempted to control it and spin he was bundled to the ground for a free kick around 25 yards out to the left of centre of the goal. Grant Peden took control of the set piece and with the home side posting a 4 man wall it looked like the free kick would be either curled to the far post or dinked in for a Bathgate head. Grant had other ideas though and smashed a lovely powerful drive around the base of the wall and inside the near post via the keeper’s flailing hand to put Bathgate into a strong 2-0 lead on the half hour.

Broxburn continued with their long ball tactics with them trying to force the play out wide behind our full backs, but with Michael Tugman playing sweeper//keeper in goal for Thistle the danger was being dealt with easily as Thistle kept their 2-0 lead intact to the break.

H/T 0 – 2 Bathgate Thistle

The second half started and with the words from their Management team still in their ears Thistle were determined to keep things tight at the back and not lose an early goal. Broxburn came out with a more attacking line up, but despite this our back four were standing strong, albeit with the help of a couple of early Tugman blocks from half chances and a long ranger that stung his palms. At the other end it was business as usual for Henney as he won header after header against a mountain of a player at CB, but we were not able to capitalise on this as we were slow at times to the second ball. Their keeper had looked uneasy in the first half when the ball was played into his area and he was slow off his line again when McTaggart ran in on a high bouncing ball deep into the 18 yard box. The keeper hesitated but got lucky as the resulting header went a foot past the far post with the Broxburn stopper in no-man’s land.

The Broxburn defenders were getting to close to the Thistle strikers and midfield runners, and were guilty of giving away far too many free kicks in dangerous areas. Franny was first to try his luck but his low effort lacked the pace to trouble the keeper, then Thistle’s first scorer, Grant then drove a high drive over the bar from a similar position only 5 minutes later as Thistle pushed for the killer third goal.

The Thistle players didn’t have to wait too long for their 3rd goal of the game though, with 20 mins gone in the 2nd period the game was put out of sight when McGregor drifted a high ball deep into the box in the direction of Henney near the far post. Henney once more rose to fire a header goal wards, their keeper made a good save high in his goal under the bar, but could only palm it out and McTaggart had the simple task of nodding it into the net from a couple of yards out.

Changes were made as our two CM had put in a real shift in there, Joe Leeds, John Scott came on with around 20 minutes to go, then Ryan Booth replaced Craig at LB after he was a touch lucky not to be shown a 2nd yellow for a high boot on their striker and Jordan Strange replaced Grant out on the wing. Broxburn tried to change things up by go three at the back but the formation change didn’t really have any effect on the game, but as had the Broxburn defenders been guilty of earlier, Thistle gave away a couple of free kicks in great positions for a set piece but our defence handled them well and Tugman in goal once more denied them with a brilliant save down low to his left to keep his clean sheet intact.

No further scoring came from either side and the referee blew to put Bathgate Thistle through into the 3rd round of the Cup after a great all round performance and fully deserved win.

Team line up :

Michael Tugman –  MOTM

Mark McCallister

Callum McGregor

Robert Mollon

Craig O’Connor

Craig Bryne

Douglas Kane

Francis Mahon

Grant Peden

Callum McTaggart

David Henney

Subs : John Scott, Joe Leeds, Ryan Booth, Grant McTaggart, Jordan Strange

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