Bathgate Thistle 2 v 2 Murieston United Blues
Saturday 3 May 2014
Team; Jake, Leon, Shaun, David, Ryan, Lewis, Connor, Sam, Danny, Harry, Robbie
Subs; Ross, Ben, Bally, Scott, Aidan
Bathgate have got form going into this one; three games unbeaten. Murieston are four places above Bathgate in the league but come into the match off the back of a heavy defeat by Broxburn.
The game has been switched to the 3G surface at Whitburn Academy, so hopefully the good surface will be reflected in the play.
The blues take the initiative from the off, with most of the play in the Murieston half, but this is interrupted by a delay in play when the referee halts the game for several minutes until shin pads can be found for the Murieston keeper.
Harry chases down a lost cause and wins a corner. Connor takes it and Robbie runs to the near post to meet it, his glancing header flashes across goal and past the keeper into the net. It’s 7 minutes in and Bathgate are 1 up. What a great start
Bathgate have been well on top for the first 25 minutes but need to press home their advantage while they can. Murieston are starting to get a foothold back in to the game. On 27 minutes, Jake makes an outstanding save facing down a 1 to 1 run on goal. Two minutes later Murieston win a free kick at the edge of the box, it’s well struck and comes off the cross bar.
The blues counter attack and Sam is brought down for a free kick. It’s well struck and Connor stretches to reach it but just can’t quite make it. Play is going from end to end now; Leon makes an outstanding last ditch tackle on the penalty spot to prevent a Murieston goal scoring opportunity.
There’s not been a lot of opportunities but Bathgate go into half time 1-0 up. Leon, Shaun, David & Ryan in defence have done a great job to suppress the strong runs by the Murieston number 15. They’ve been doubling up to good effect and Shaun has been showing a great turn of pace to mop up as the last man
There are no changes for the second half, but Leon picks up a muscular injury which forces an early change and is replaced by Ross. Bathgate still have the upper hand with most of the possession but can’t grasp the opportunity to close the match out.
The blues make some changes with Aidan and Bally replacing Harry and Danny. There haven’t been many chances but Scott finds Aidan with a great pass and he cuts back to Robbie whose shots goes over. Ben comes on to replace Sam and immediately makes an impact with a couple of good runs down the right wing. Connor is probing with runs down the opposite side
Murieston level the game on 55 minutes against the run of play. It’s a pinpoint strike from well outside the box, the ball falls to a Murieston midfielder who strikes a lobbed shot over Jake. It’s great vision and a superb finish.
Bathgate get their noses back in front just 5 minutes later and a huge cheer of relief goes up. Connor’s corner doesn’t get past the first man on the near post, the clearance falls to Robbie who strikes the ball on the turn, low and hard across goal and into the net. Bathgate 2 v 1 Murieston Blues.
The Blues are finding passes and knocking the ball around. Just as it looks like they are going to see the game out, Murieston counter attack and score. Their striker goes 1 on 1 with David and uses his weight and height advantage to burst through to slot the ball past Jake. It 2-2 and we are in for a nail-biting finish. Bathgate make a switch with Sam on for Ryan. Sam gets a yellow card shortly afterwards but takes one for the team as it breaks down play and prevents a counter attack. There’s time for just one more chance and Robbie has a strike looking for his hat trick but it flashes wide.
The dressing room is a little subdued at the end, but there shouldn’t be too many regrets. Although we had lots of the ball, there were very few clear cut chances. That’s a run of 4 games unbeaten and it’s an important point gained in our quest for a place in the top six. It’s also been gained against a higher placed side.