Newburgh 0 Bathgate Thistle 3
Newburgh’s fine run of wins at home this season came to an abrupt end on Saturday in a closely fought game at East Shore Park.
Bathgate Thistle, under the new management team of Mickey Weir and Kevin McKee, have had a similar start to their season as Newburgh sitting just below the home side in the league before Saturdays game.
The game started well for Newburgh with some excellent possession in the midfield area, Hutchison, Smart and lambert combining well to move the ball around the park. The first break forward by Newburgh that managed to penetrate the defence ended with a snap shot from Craig Robinson that spun off the wet pitch just wide of the goal.
The game flowed from end to end with no team in ascendancy until the opening goal for the visitors which came in the 26th minute. Bathgate had managed to sustain a period of pressure pressing Newburgh up the park. The home defence, marshalled by Paul MacBride, had coped well limiting the visitors to half chances that never really threatened the Newburgh goal. With the pressure relived the ball broke to midfield and an innocuous cross was swung over from the left. Sean MacBride was well placed to block the ball which then looped up into the air and into the home net to give Bathgate the lead.
Newburgh took a hold of the game and pressed hard for an equaliser. Craig and Fraser Robinson’s pace in the wide areas was causing the Bathgate back line problems and with Kyle Fraser’s tenacity the front line were causing the visitors to defend deep. This opened up space for the ‘Burgh midfield which allowed Ryan Smart to break forward on the 35th minute. Smart picked the ball up in the centre circle and drove into the space beating two opponents for pace as he entered the 18 yard box. A clumsy challenge in the area on Smart resulted in a penalty award. Harris Lambert’s shot was touched on to the bar by the keeper. The ball looped back into Lambert’s path but the Newburgh midfielder could not get his header under the bar, the ball striking the upright and bouncing to safety.
Newburgh fell two goals behind on the stroke of half time, a bad time to lose a goal for the home side. A quick break up the right and a pin point cross from wide took out the retreating ‘Burgh defence, Feeney rose at the back post to head a powerful header beyond Sutherland reach.
The second half provided some entertaining football for the neutral observer with frenetic end to end football as the home side looked to pull themselves into the game.
The best chance of the half came just after the hour. Newburgh were pushing hard for a foot hold in the game. Sutherland and Hughes had been introduced to the ‘Burgh front line with the tireless Fraser and Lambert having run themselves into the ground. The fresh legs up re-invigorated the ‘Burgh attack. Scott Sutherland drove up the right channel and managed to work the ball past the defender to the bye line. His driven cross was met by Hughes who smashed a goal bound shot from 10 yards out only to see the Bathgate keeper pull off a wonderful one handed save, the ball dropped to Robinson who drove another shot goal bound and once again the in-form keeper managed to somehow keep the ball out of his net.
With time running out for Newburgh they were pushing further and further up the park leaving space in the midfield for Bathgate to pick up the ball and manage the game. The final goal of the game came with 5 minutes remaining. Feeney once again the goal scorer having found space to pick the ball up and drive in on goal giving Sutherland no chance with his well-placed shot.
Newburgh manager Scott Hudson was happy with his team’s performance if not the result of the game. ”We went behind to a freak goal at a time when we had soaked up a good bit of pressure without them threatening our goal. We then lost the second goal at really bad time, right at the end of the first half, which totally changed what we had to ask the team to do in the second period”. Hudson is happy with the way things are going with the performances improving week on week “we are a potent threat to any team going forward and the game management is getting better and better every week”.
Newburgh’s next fixture is this Saturday’s Thorntons League Cup tie away to Superleague side Kennoway Star Hearts at Treaton Park Star of Markinch.