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Derek Hall’s football report for Saturday 6th April Bonnyrigg Rose v Stirling University

todayApril 6, 2019


Grey, damp and misty New Dundas Park was the venue for todays South Region Challenge Cup Semi-Final between Bonnyrigg Rose and Stirling University and a great chance for the visitors in the opening few minutes when Slattery should have done much better with a free header from a corner than head over from about six yards. Then in seven minutes, Lyons turned well in the Bonnyrigg box but rather than shooting for goal from the angle from about 15 yards, he tried to square the ball and the chance was gone. Bonnyrigg had got off to an uncharacteristically slow start and took ten minutes to register their first effort on goal, a good turn and shot from the edge of the box by Murrell which curled past. After 15 minutes, Hoskins was dispossessed by Lyons who put Ferris in for the visitors but the half chance came to nothing. A minute later Hoskins conceded a free kick 22 yards out but MacEwans place kick was deflected out for a fruitless corner.

Bonnyrigg were very lethargic and struggling to put passes together and even when they finally got a shot off from Turner in 38 minutes, it was blocked by one of his own players. After 42 minutes, Hoskins was cautioned for something off the ball and this would have further significance later in the game, and in 44 minutes he was joined in referee Whyte’s book by Stirling’s Mailer who committed a heavy challenge on an opponent. At half time all square and in a game with so much to play for, it was a big disappointment to have watched one of the worst 45 minutes of play of the season.

Bonnyrigg started the second half at a higher tempo and in 51 minutes, good interplay down the right flank between Turner and Brett almost created an opening but a defensive header cleared the danger. After 53 minutes, Ferris of Stirling had the ball in the net but was clearly offside and in the 56th minute Lough put Murrell in but he too was flagged offside. However a minute later Murrell beat the offside trap, sidestepped a defender on the edge of the box and watched as his shot was deflected wide with Walker in the away goal rooted to the spot. Bonnyrigg were looking more dangerous now and Gray headed down for Lough after 66 minutes only for his shot to also be deflected behind. Stirling broke from this corner but didn’t make the most of the chance although when the ball next went out, Bonnyrigg’s Stewart was cautioned for a cynical pull as the away side broke forward, and in 75 minutes, Bonnyrigg’s Gray joined him in the book after another somewhat cynical hold. After 77 minutes Lough set up Currie who fired in a great shot but Walker dived to his right to parry the ball away. In 82 minutes a Currie corner was half cleared back out to Currie who lashed the ball at goal from the angle and somehow keeper Walker got his foot to the ball and managed to deflect it up and onto the junction of post and crossbar denying the best chance of the match for the home side. Two minutes later Turner then hit the base of the Stirling post from fully 30 yards with Walker this time a mere spectator. However after 86 minutes the home side were stunned when Hoskins was red carded having been previously cautioned. In the last minute Stirling substitute Peden headed into Young’s hands but that was it and we now moved into extra time with the away side holding a man advantage.

Combe set Lough up for the first chance of extra time in 93 minutes but another block saw another corner which came to nothing, and two minutes later Lough should possibly have done better than glance a free header past the post. 96 minutes saw Stirling’s Lyons cautioned for a late challenge before Murrell then brought out an outstanding tip over from keeper Walker right in the postage stamp corner to keep the visitors level. After 100 minutes, Slattery of Stirling was the next yellow card recipient, this time for deliberate handball. The busy Murrell again tested Walker with a low snap shot at his near post, but the keeper held the effort at the second attempt but at the other end, a header from Lyons just shaved the home post on its way past. In the 119th minute a nice ball from Murrell found Lough who looked up and tried to chip the keeper but he got the contact all wrong but the second period of extra time was a pretty cagey affair and so the game was to be decided by penalty kicks. All four penalties taken by the home side were successfully converted but the hero for Bonnyrigg proved to be keeper Young who saved the first and fourth kicks from the visitors with the first save in particular flying full length to his left to deny Peden the pick of the saves and earning Bonnyrigg a 4-2 penalty kick victory.

Stirling proved to be very stubborn opponents indeed, Walker in goal had a fine match and the front three of MacEwan, Ferris and Lyons worked very hard and made life difficult for the Bonnyrigg defence but just didn’t test the home keeper enough. A strangely pedestrian display from Bonnyrigg during a dreadful first half but the increase in tempo from then onwards provided them with more clear cut opportunities than their opponents and on this basis alone they were in the end worth their win. Brett and Murrell put in a couple of big shifts and when important moments were required, keeper Young provided them in the shootout for Bonnyrigg who now move on to play East Kilbride in the final, and we wish them well on the day.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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