SCOTTISH JUNIOR CUP WINNERS
A magnificent goal from Kevin Donnelly ensured the Scottish Junior Cup returned to Linlithgow to take pride of place in the Prestonfield trophy cabinet once again.
And the result was absolutely right. Pinkowski made a couple of vital saves, the Rose defence was immense, the midfield showed their experience and composure while Coyne and Herd were always a threat up front.
It was a special day for Davie Roy as he stood down after 50 years as the secretary at the Rose. Davie and Sandy Fowler were the only active members of the Rose committee who were also members of the committee when the Rose first lifted the Junior Cup in 1965.
Both sets of supporters were in full voice as their heroes took to the field on a searing hot afternoon at Rugby Park. Largs were first to find their feet. As early as the second minute, a free kick evaded the Rose defence and the ball fell to Walton but he blazed over.
Having taken time to settle, the Rose ought to have taken the lead in the 13th minute when Kevin Donnelly’s throw in fell kindly to Tommy Coyne. His angled shot was parried by Connick in the Largs goal but fell to Herd who seemed certain to score. However, the Largs stopper made a tremendous block to deflect the ball for a corner. McArthur’s cross was only partially cleared before Scott Wilson lashed the ball over the bar from 12 yards.
This was the signal for some sustained Rose pressure and the fans really found their voices as their favourites stretched Largs with some great passing moves. But Linlithgow couldn’t find the breakthrough. Ward had a chance to test the keeper but couldn’t get the ball from under his feet before Herd suffered similar misfortune and was muscled off the ball.
Largs were having their moments but they were struggling to break down a superb Rose back line. Gary Livingstone’s pace and direct approach was also causing the Ayrshire team problems and a great run from the little Rose winger again gave Herd an opportunity but Connick rescued his team once more.
Out of the blue, Largs created a fantastic opportunity when Monaghan fired in a 30 yard rocket which Pinkowski turned round the post at full stretch. Pinkowski punched the resulting corner clear but the ball came straight back in on top of the Rose defence and McCabe had plenty of time to pick his spot but headed just wide.
With the first half drawing to a close, Virgili was crudely brought down 25 yards out. Mark Tyrrell fired in a trademark free kick and Connick again kept his side level with a stunning save.
Half Time: Largs Thistle 0 – 0 Linlithgow Rose
Linlithgow started the second half strongly and Coyne was unlucky to see his flick drift wide after a dangerous cross from the excellent Virgili.
However, the opening goal was not long in coming and when it did it was from the unlikeliest of sources. With 52 minutes played, Stuart McArthur had done well to hold off a series of challenges in the Largs area before knocking the ball across goal. Largs thought they had cleared the ball to safety before it fell to Donnelly 30 yards out. As everyone waited for a knock back into the crowded penalty area, the Rose full back thrashed an unstoppable drive into the top corner to send the Rose faithful wild.
The goal certainly sparked Largs. Marks came on for Dow as they pushed forward looking for an early equaliser. And McCabe should have done better on 59 minutes when the Rose defence could only partially clear their lines. But the Largs defender hammered his shot high over the bar from 12 yards.
As the heat started to take its toll, the game became more open. McArthur almost scored directly from a corner before Ryan Deas turned defence into attack with a fantastic run during which he left three Rose players in his wake before hammering a terrific shot which Pinkowski tipped brilliantly round the post.
With 25 minutes left, manager Baikie freshened things up by introducing Kelly and Manson for the excellent pair of Bradley and Livingstone. The changes seemed to inspire Linlithgow and they were really buzzing as they sought a killer second goal. A super exchange between Manson and Coyne released Herd but he dragged his shot wide. Moments later, Herd was fouled 25 yards out but once again Connick was able to tip Tyrrell’s free kick wide.
However, just as Linlithgow seemed to be turning the screw, a rash challenge by Manson on McCabe saw referee Roach show the Rose striker a straight red card.
That was the signal for some sustained Largs pressure but the Rose boys were determined that they would give nothing away easily. Ward and Wilson stood rock-like in the middle of defence and as Largs threw everyone upfield in search of a late equaliser, MacLennan broke upfield and provided Coyne with a great chance to finish the match. However, the outstanding Connick yet again thwarted the Rose striker.
It didn’t matter though. The Linlithgow lads had done their job and as the referee signalled full time there was unbridled joy among the Linlithgow support.
There were a myriad of contenders for the man of the match but Kevin Donnelly’s magnificent strike ensured that the Rose man picked up that award although Largs keeper Connick surely ran him close with a magnificent display for the Ayrshire side.
The Linlithgow legions then celebrated wildly as delighted First Minister, Alex Salmond presented John Ward with the Junior Cup to signal the start of the 3rd party in 8 years for Linlithgow.
Reflecting on the game immediately afterwards, Kevin Donnelly was asked where that shot came from: “To be honest I’m not sure. I don’t score many with my feet but the ball fell nicely and I just hit it as hard as I could. I’m just delighted it went in!”
Gordon Herd was asked how this compared to winning the trophy in 2007: “These are special days so it’s hard to compare. Winning today feels fantastic. 2007 had a really great finish but today was superb. As a team we struggled a wee bit earlier in the season but we’ve been getting better and stronger as the season has gone on and we deserved that today.”
Gaffer Dave Baikie said “It was a great performance and a magnificent result. This is what we came for and Kevin Donnelly scored a goal that was worthy of winning any match.”
Back in Linlithgow
The Rose players returned to a heroes welcome on Sunday evening. On a beautiful summer night, the streets were line with well-wishers as the team bus made its way along the High Street preceded by the Linlithgow Reed Band.
By the time the bus reached The Cross the streets were packed and the party was in full swing. With flags and banners waving, the picture was one of unbridled joy. For the Rose’s Spanish defender Jordi Virgili, the supporters had created a flag with Hail the Gallant Rosey Posey spelt out in his native Catalan.
The Deacons Court welcomed the players and committee into a reception at the County Buildings. Provost Norman Cummings congratulated the players on their superb achievement with Rose president Les Donaldson responding on behalf of the club.
Then it was back to the Rose club for the mother of all celebrations. Linlithgow Rose and their supporters have been tremendously fortunate to lift the Scottish Junior Cup three times since 2002 but it remains a hard, hard trophy to win – the pinnacle of the junior game.
To view all the images from 2010 click HERE