Armadale Falcons Calcio 0 v 5 Bathgate Thistle
Saturday 9 May – League – Watson Park, Armadale
Starting Line Up; Jake, Leon, James, Sean, David, Sam, Bally, Connor, Scott, Bailey, Aidan. Subs; Elliot, Harry, Ross, Lewis, Gareth
It’s 2nd v 4th in the league, Armadale are chasing for the league title and a win for Thistle could see them jump a place in the table. Similar to last season Bathgate have put together a good end of season series of wins and there’s cup final places up for grabs, so there’s lots to play for. In both the previous encounters this season, the sides have been well matched.
The match kicks off and it’s quickly apparent that both sides are committed and determined, trying to close one another down early. Thistle break the first breakthrough on 8 minutes, the ball breaks to the edge of the box after a corner and Bally hits it first time with a side foot shot. It’s doesn’t have pace but the spin and accuracy of the shot beats the keeper as it goes in at the back post. That was a pinpoint finish and just what Thistle are looking for, Bally’s in a rich vein of form at the moment; Armadale 0 v 1 Bathgate.
The Bathgate coaches spot an opportunity and make a formation change with Scott moving up front. On 20 minutes, James makes a last ditch tackle in the penalty area to prevent Armadale with a close range shooting opportunity. Armadale have got pace in their attack, but the Bathgate Defence and Midfield are working hard to support one another and to close down attacks.
First aid is required on 32 minutes when Aidan goes down with a head knock. Aidan doesn’t go down easily and he comes off with a nasty bump on the face. Elliot comes off the bench to replace him. Both sides are showing their commitment, the majority of the tackles are fair, but there’s some late ones too. The referee is a busy man and eventually he takes exception to one too many shouts from the sidelines with the result that an Armadale coach is sent away from the touchline.
Thistle double their lead on 34 minutes; Connor’s on top form today with surging attacking runs, he picks up a loose ball near to halfway and makes up ground quickly before lashing a shot from well out. It looks to be going in all the way but it strikes the face of the cross bar. Scott’s followed in a ball comes to him at the edge of the area, he displays some neat control and with laser accuracy he slots it home between keeper and post; Armadale 0 v 2 Bathgate. It’s a great time to score
Everyone is expecting the referee to immediately blow for half time but there’s a full 5 minutes of injury time played. Armadale are stung by that second goal and Jake has to make a spectacular diving save from a long-range shot to prevent them from reducing the deficit. Half time Armadale 0 v 2 Bathgate. The difference between the teams is that Bathgate have taken their chances and defensively we have quickly closed down Armadale opportunities
One goal and Armadale are back in this, they come out after half time eager to get a foothold. But it doesn’t take long for Thistle to extend their superiority. Elliot and Sam combine well, a pass finds Bailey at the edge of the area and he executes one of his trademark spins to turn and fire the ball past the keeper and into the bottom left corner. That has definitely settled the nerves, well on the sidelines at least because the Thistle payers are in a confident mood. Armadale 0 v 3 Bathgate.
David is captain again today and he’s been a tower of strength at the back. He picks up the ball in his own territory and goes off on a run, beating several players before being closed down at the edge of the Armadale box. Bathgate make a change on 45 minutes with Scott making way for Harry. Both sides are very much committed, there continues to be tough but fair challenges. The result is that both physios have been busy, there’s a head knock from Armadale then Leon goes down with a muscle strain.
James and Connor combine well down the left and James continues his run to the bye line, he sends over a great cross but Bailey isn’t able to keep the strike under the crossbar. Connor has been a real thorn in Armadale’s side. He is Constantly tracking back to close down attacks, but he’s most dangerous with his attacking runs. He leaves a couple of defenders trailing in his wake before sending in a dangerous cross, the ball eventually breaks free to Harry who smashes a shot high into the net past the keeper. Armadale 0 v 4 Bathgate
There’s some needle creeping in to the match now and Bailey gets a yellow card, it’s completely accidental as he trips up the Armadale no5. Unfortunately the ref only sees the aftermath of the incident and it’s unjust on Bailey. With a cup final on the horizon, he makes way for Scott as a precaution. Sam has put in a really hard shift in midfield and he is swapped out for Lewis.
The icing on the cake comes when a Connor run a shot is well saved by the keeper, the ball looks to have gone past him but Harry manages to finish and score from a tight angle. Great following up; Armadale 0 v 5 Bathgate. It really has been a team performance today, with everyone making a positive contribution. Sean goes close with a header from a Bally corner kick.
David joins Bailey in the referee’s notebook with a yellow card for a foul at the edge of the area. It’s in a dangerous place. Jake lines up a defensive wall, but the free kick goes over the wall and is heading in to the bottom corner but Jake gets across to it and saves well. Full time; Armadale 0 v 5 Bathgate. It’s a fantastic win for Thistle and a big confidence boost going into the cup final