Newburgh travelled across the River Forth on Saturday to visit Bathgate Thistle in the East Premier League. The reverse fixture at East Shore Park was an entertaining and closely fought encounter which the 3 – 0 score line in favour of the West Lothian side did not truly reflect.
Newburgh manager Scott Hudson handed a Newburgh debut to Callum McCleary on the left side of midfield.
Bathgate started the game strongly playing expansive football moving the ball well across the perfect pitch. As Newburgh grew into the game they forced a corner when Fraser Robinson drove down the left forcing the defence to clear as Robinson was about to drive a shot at goal.
Callum McCleary on the wide left was threatening the defence every time he picked up possession. The youngsters pace was clearly an issue for the right back and his determined running won Newburgh a corner in the 15th minute. Sean MacBride stepped up and drove the corner low across the box. The ball flew between the defenders and goalkeeper and snuck into the net at the back post to give Newburgh the lead.
Bathgate tried to pull themselves level but good defensive work by Newburgh was limiting them to shots from range as the home side could not turn their possession into goals.
Newburgh always looked threatening on the break, Kyle Fraser was playing well leading from the front always keeping the Bathgate defence on their toes as he closed them down whenever they had possession.
Bathgate equalised on the 32nd minute with a relay well worked goal, some creative one touch football worked an opening on the right for the ball to be delivered to the back post where Feeney net the ball at pace driving it high into the net.
Newburgh found themselves on the back foot for the remainder of the first half and would be the happier of the two sides to go into the break level.
The second half started at a frantic pace with Bathgate coming out of the blocks quickly looking to establish a lead in the game. With 48 minutes on the clock the home side were awarded a penalty when a poorly timed challenge by Johal up-ended the striker in the penalty area. Calum Sutherland, in the ‘Burgh goal pulled off a fantastic save to deny Bathgate the lead.
Newburgh were forced to make a change shortly after the re-start when MacBride who had taken a knock late in the first half had to come off with Craig Robinson introduced in his place.
Newburgh held strong up until the 54th minute when Dalrymple scored a well taken goal to give Bathgate a deserved lead at this point in the match.
Newburgh found their way back into the match with both Robinson’s and Kyle Fraser causing the home defence problems.
Just past the hour Newburgh equalised. Craig Hall won the ball in the middle of the park and placed a measured pass to Jack Hutchison who lifted his head and played a pin point accurate ball forward into the path of Craig Robinson. The ‘Burgh striker linked up well with Fraser to get beyond the defender. The Bathgate keeper came off his line to try and thwart the attack but Robinson cleverly knocked the ball past the keeper to give himself an angle to knock the ball into the net.
The following thirty minutes were mostly played in the midfield area with the home side holding the majority of possession. The chances that were created were mopped up by the Newburgh defence, without Calum Sutherland being called into further action.
As the game was drawing to a close Newburgh were dealt a hammer blow when once again Bathgate were awarded a penalty for a poorly timed challenge in the penalty area. Deep into time added on Feeney stepped up and drove his penalty kick high over the bar much to the relief of the ‘Burgh team and management.
Scott Hudson was delighted to have put an end to the run of defeats “we needed a result today to give everyone a lift. I knew we would have to defend really well today as Bathgate are a strong side. We said to the guys before the game that there would likely be periods of the game where they would have to dig in and defend as a unit which they did”.
Newburgh are at home next Saturday to runaway league leaders Pumpherston Juniors. Kick off at East Shore Park is at 14:30