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Derek Hall’s report on the Tranent Juniors v Linlithgow Rose game on 26th April

todayApril 27, 2022


Tranent 2-2 Linlithgow Rose

First v Third in the EOS Premier League at Foresters Park tonight and with so much at stake, it was fair to say that tonight’s game between Tranent and Linlithgow Rose didn’t disappoint in any way as a crowd of around 600 were treated to a game of intensity, passion, talking points and all in all, it was a throwback to former times played at the pace of the modern game. First to show were the visitors on three minutes as Sean Heaver and Mark Stowe combined down the right to win a corner which Stowe swung to the back post and Liam Allison won the header which was cleared out before the return cross drifted wide. Tranent won their first corner two minutes later as Callum Donaldson found Wayne McIntosh but Euan Greig’s set piece didn’t cause Rose any problems as it was cleared. On eight minutes, a long ball from Tranent keeper Kelby Mason was head flicked on by Kris Renton looking for Greig, but Rose keeper Dean Shaw was out to grab the ball. The early stages weren’t exactly pretty but it was certainly competitive and on thirteen minutes, McIntosh of Tranent and Roses Cameron Thomson came together on the edge of the visitors penalty area and the home fans were not happy when the free kick went against their side. Another Greig corner was solidly punched clear by Rose keeper Shaw and a lightning counter attack then saw Heaver race forward down the left flank and as Alan Docherty went beyond him, Heaver stepped inside and tried to curl in a 23 yard drive but Euan Bauld stayed big to make an excellent block. Sean Murphy then found McIntosh on the edge of the Rose box but again the visitors quickly countered and it took a decent challenge on Docherty by Murphy to see off the danger. A cross to the back post after 20 minutes towards Heaver saw home keeper Mason taking no chances as he flopped down on the ball on his six yard line. Two minutes later, the ball dropped for McIntosh inside the Rose box but it was a fairly tight angle and the outcome was another Greig corner which almost found Murphy at the near post but Heaver hooked the ball clear. However on 23 minutes, the best chance of the match arrived for the home side when a cross from the left wing saw Renton using his strength in the jump to make a nuisance of himself and when the ball broke to McIntosh, he stabbed at the ball with his right foot and it slipped agonisingly inches wide of the base of the post from no more than eight yards. Two minutes later, a nice combination move saw the visitors carve out their best chance as Docherty stole the ball in midfield and he picked out Connor McMullan who fed the ball wide to Heaver and his cross into the Tranent penalty area saw Stowe attempt a left foot bicycle kick from around 12 yards which keeper Mason watched carefully as it went a yard over the top. At the other end, Murphy found C. Donaldson who dropped the ball back for McIntosh but his 20 yard right foot drive along the ground didn’t have enough on it to trouble keeper Shaw. After 32 minutes, Bradley Donaldson pumped a long free kick into the Rose penalty area and Renton again won the high ball before Murphy’s shot was blocked and when the ball was returned, McIntosh and Rose skipper Gary Thom ended up on the ground after jumping for the ball on the six yard line and it was the Tranent striker who saw the first yellow card of the evening flashed in his direction by referee Ally Grieve. The pace of the game was unrelenting with no quarter asked or given, but real chances were still proving elusive at both ends. After 34 minutes, the referee stopped the game with Rose player Jamie Allan on the ground with what appeared to be a head knock with Tranent in possession and home manager Calum Elliot took his protests too far for the referees liking and he too was shown a yellow card. However within seconds, the home side nearly hit the front as the ball reached Oban Anderson who took a touch before firing a lovely 25 yard left foot drive up into the top corner, only for Rose keeper Shaw to brilliantly tip the ball past the post at full stretch and he then punched away under pressure from the resultant corner to keep the visitors on level terms. A looping header from Renton was then plucked out of the air by keeper Shaw but the offside flag was already up against the Tranent no4. The home side were having their best spell at this point and after a foul on McIntosh, Jamie Docherty slammed his 27 yard free kick off the Rose wall. However after 40 minutes, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock as another quick counter attack released McMullan and as he drove into the Tranent penalty area, he attempted to round keeper Mason and was brought down by the outstretched arm of the diving keeper. Referee Grieve didn’t hesitate in pointing straight to the penalty spot and Stowe stepped up to send Mason the wrong way as he stuck the ball beautifully low into the corner and with half time only minutes away, Rose had their noses in front. The visitors had their tails up now and Allan sent Stowe racing down the right wing and his cutback found Heaver at the back post but keeper Mason was able to save his low fourteen yard drive at the second attempt. A Docherty cross to the edge of the Rose penalty area saw Renton penalised for offside and the striker had also controlled the ball with his hand so play was quickly stopped. Two minutes into stoppage time, J. Docherty worked hard to retain the ball near the goal line before finding Murphy who looped a cross into the Rose penalty area but keeper Shaw grabbed the ball as it threatened to drop under the crossbar. Renton was then fouled in midfield after a reckless challenge by Allison and the Rose no5 found himself with a yellow card to take into the break. A frantic and at times feisty opening period ended with the visitors having a slender lead which on balance they would feel they just about deserved, but Tranent were still very much in this game which was definitely too close to call.
Tranent made a switch at the break as Rory Currie replaced McIntosh who was perhaps being protected after picking up the opening caution of the first half. Heaver won the visitors an early corner and his excellent inswinging set piece to the near post saw A. Docherty send a glancing header through the goal area and only a couple of feet wide of the target. Callum Bremner also tried to pick out A. Docherty a minute later but his cross drifted just over his head and out for the goal kick. Currie controlled a difficult pass on the left wing before picking out Greig and his cross into the box saw visiting keeper Shaw making an excellent catch under pressure from Renton, although once again, the offside flag was up. However, with 55 minutes gone, the visitors doubled their advantage and it was down to the tenacity of A. Docherty who managed to charge down an attempted defensive clearance and the ball broke to Heaver who allowed the ball to bounce before then smashing a superb 18 yard right foot half volley past keeper Mason who had absolutely no chance as the ball flew past him into the back of the net. The home side looked to respond through the excellent Anderson who fed Renton, but his 25 yard drive drifted over the bar. On 59 minutes, a conversation between the near side AR and referee Grieve then saw the official produce a second yellow card and the inevitable red to Tranent head coach Calum Elliot who was removed from the technical area for what would appear to have been a further comment made. Kieran Somerville then showed nice control to set up another drive for Renton which didn’t miss by much as it went wide. The game temperature had certainly gone up and on 62 minutes, McMullan was caught by a reckless challenge from Bauld and there were few complaints as the Tranent man was shown the yellow card. Stowe’s pace continued to be a potent weapon for the visitors and he brought Bremner and McMullan into the game before winning another corner but Heavers inswinging set piece was well headed clear by Murphy. At the other end, Conor McKenzie took no chances on 67 minutes as he headed behind and the corner saw Greig’s close range header strike the back of a Rose defender and go behind for another corner. On 70 minutes, this very competitive game saw another yellow card, this time to Tranent’s Renton as he slid in and caught the ankle of Allison and he was very shortly afterwards followed into the book by Allan of Rose who took down J. Docherty. With 72 minutes gone, Tranent introduced some fresh legs up front as Martin Maughan was brought on for Somerville. Tranent delivered the free kick into the penalty area and it was cleared out to Murphy who hit his 17 yard shot down into the ground and Allison was there to head the ball clear as it bounced up. With 74 minutes gone, J. Docherty escaped the attention of a couple of Rose defenders to get a left foot drive in from the edge of the box but a slight deflection took the pace off the ball, allowing keeper Shaw to make a comfortable save. Fifteen minutes from time, Currie brought down Stowe 28 yards out and the Rose no7 got up to fire the set piece up and over the wall but Tranent keeper Mason was right behind the shot. After 79 minutes, Linlithgow replaced the excellent A. Docherty, whose work rate had been superb all night, with Lewis Payne. However with nine minutes remaining, it was very much game on when the home side got themselves back in it with a wonderful goal. Maughan was pushed on the edge of the penalty area around 22 yards out and with a five man wall in front of him, Renton stepped up to send an absolute screamer into the postage stamp corner which keeper Shaw probably saw for the first time as it came back out again, the ball could not have been struck any sweeter and a grandstand finish now looked on. Rose to their credit were soon back on the front foot and Heaver found Stowe who curled a sixteen yard left foot effort a yard over the bar. Five minutes from time, Tranent’s Maughan was cautioned after leaving his foot in on an attempted defensive clearance by Bremner. A minute from time, Linlithgow’s MOTM Stowe went down with cramp and couldn’t continue, and his replacement was Thomas Halleran. In the last minute of the ninety, Renton was once again caught offside and B. Donaldson couldn’t contain his frustration and his comments to the referee earned the Tranent man a yellow card. On 92 minutes and with Tranent pushing for a leveller, Currie raced down the right wing and he was cleaned out by a heavy challenge from Thomson who basically took one for the team and probably didn’t mind his yellow card and minded even less when Greig’s free kick sailed over everyone and out for a goal kick. However, the drama was far from over and we were into the 94th minute when a ball to the edge of the Rose penalty area saw a coming together and referee Grieve immediately pointed to the spot for the second time on the night without hesitation. By the time the players were settled and the ball was on the spot, five minutes of stoppage time had come and gone, and so it was great credit indeed to J. Docherty who remained ice cool before stepping up to send a lovely right foot strike into the corner as keeper Shaw went the wrong way. There was utter bedlam on the sidelines and particularly near the technical areas and in the morning, one or two individuals might well wish that they behaved in a slightly more dignified manner as the goading in some cases was completely unacceptable. The upshot was a caution for one occupant of the Tranent technical area who was adjudged to have initiated the melee, but as things moved on, both the Linlithgow team physio plus their manager, Gordon Herd, were also yellow carded. As the game concluded after a 52 minute second half, due in no small part to the shenanigans at the end, results elsewhere means that after a night full of tension and drama, it’s as you were at the top of the EOS Premier League and all three clubs at the top remain in contention. These two clubs meet again a week on Saturday at Prestonfield and it would be fair to say that it’s a game which few who were present tonight would want to miss, at times this was football in the raw, but you couldn’t take your eyes off it for a moment, compelling viewing from start to finish.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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