The teams kicked off on Saturday afternoon with the crowd in fine fettle; Bo’ness passed it back around the left side before Lanark wrestled the ball back and headed clear. Bo’ness’ James Rintoul then played a good ball out wide right to Finlay Carlin who got it down and won a throw-in. This was defended well but then Anthony Campbell dropped it to Rintoul again who took it to the byline and looked to cross but it hit the defender’s leg and went out for a corner.
The corner came in and Campbell got a strong head on it, the crowd thought it was in but it was unfortunate to be straight at the keeper, Allan Dickie, who held it well. A few minutes of play went by and then Campbell played a fantastic ball down the right wing curling inside the full back for Rintoul to chase onto making a good run in behind the defence.
From the corner the keeper Dickie collected the ball and took it to the edge of the area where he cleared it and got his team way downfield, a mark of his intent. From there his team applied the pressure to the Bo’ness defence, searching for inroads to the goal but Bo’ness held their shape and they were able to take play up field where they won a free kick on the right outside the area. Cameron Donaldson stood menacingly it and fired in hard and straight but it went just over the bar.
The game was end to end with plenty of bite and after fourteen minutes Bo’ness were seemingly getting the upper hand in the possession stakes as captain Conor Weir held play up well and put it out wide to Campbell on the right who dropped it back to his right back Donaldson. He knocked it forward and his team broke, the attack resulting in a shot which went wide for a goal kick.
A long high clearance reached the head of Callum Cook for Lanark, knocking it inside and down in front of him to run onto himself. He chased it and got a toe on the ball trying to guide it to the right passed the on-rushing keeper but Ryan McCuein goal for Bo’ness saved well with an outstretched left boot poking it away behind him.
Weir came inside cleverly by his man and on fifteen minutes a good cross come shot from Izaac Stenhouse tested Dickie who palmed it away straight into the path of Stuart McIntyre trying to get to it but excellent defending from Grant Ebbs the captain coming in gets it clear.
Bo’ness then had a few throw-ins and the game seemed to have settled down after a frantic first twenty, Donaldson heading it on to Rintoul to chase and winning a corner. This reached the head of McIntyre and it went just wide. Lanark United tried to get it clear from the goal kick but it came back at them with McIntyre in the air before Campbell took a series of throws again.
The third of these was laid back to Weir and he stepped outwards on to his left, making enough space for a shot which he hit with curl and dip and the keeper’s outstretched palm was right under it but the strength and momentum took it straight down and into the back of the net and it was one nil to Bo’ness and the whole team wheeled away and sprinted over to their dugout as their supporters went wild.
Straight from the kickoff Lanark won a free kick which was lashed into the Bo’ness area and then cleared and they worked their way down field on the left and then used Campbell and Finlay Carlin as an outlet on the opposite side before Campbell crossed well but saw it blocked and go out for a throw.
Lanark were defending well and looking dangerous on the break, but a looping ball came down on the edge of the box in Rintoul’s path and he attempted a clever lob with the outside of his right boot which the keeper could only watch go just over the crossbar. Some longer ball and heading football got played before Rhys Stuart looked to get a hold of things and burst through the centre, bearing down on the defence, but the ball was nicked away and a foul ensued, allowing Lanark to clear up field before it came straight back at them but ran through to the keeper.
Then McIntyre for Bo’ness headed it down to the marauding Stuart who showed strength holding off his man going into the area and got a shot off to the near post and it was saved excellently. Great football all round. Lanark got away with Gary McBride almost getting through three players and on into the box but he was crowded out and despite the foul being given nothing came of it.
At the other end, Bo’ness won a corner and Dickie saved well from McIntyre with a good header down to his left. Thirty minutes of the game had passed as a long lob attempt came in and slightly worried Lanark and their keeper but it dipped over and they pressed on with a few throws, McBride ghosting inside down the left and getting nicked for his troubles. From the free kick which he took himself, showing good poise and technique in the run up, the ball curled and dipped through the wall and bounced a few metres before the goal to the left of the keeper, making it awkward but necessary to stop, McCue did well.
McIntyre broke away from a long ball for Bo’ness and Cameron Cairns came across on cover well, putting in a superb challenge and it resulted in a corner. It was clear that Bo’ness had a couple of players with a real height advantage at corners, each and every header was won high in the atmosphere and was able to be directed down well.
Campbell works on going down the right from a throw in with Rintoul at his shoulder, the cross cleared by McBride before Criag Reilly played an excellent ball out to Daniel MacConnall who looked to go on but the ball was interceded with a head coming in and clearing it in mid-air. Bo’ness looked to be about to break away but a foul was called but previously that was great build up play from Lanark United.
There were still a few high balls getting bandied around in the game and plenty of contested headers but these were reactions to the pressure of the final and it was interspersed with good play if not a few to many throw-ins. Counter to that as well, everyone was looking to get passed their man if they could, this was an entertaining game and this was epitomised as Campbell brought it down consummately out of the air spinning on heels on the turn and immediately facing the opposite direction with poise to immediately slot the ball through the lines and in for McIntyre and his angled run. On into the box and clear he fires into the side netting but that was yet more excellent movement and technical play.
Then Rintoul was on down the left with the associated volume of the crowd going up as he passed them by but Greg Watson got back and stopped the cross, putting an end to that. From a throw, Campbell again clears some space in front of him for McIntyre but the ball is calmly played back through Conor Weir and on to Jack Anderson, who expanded the play forward and found Stenhouse out left before Lanark closed up and kept play along the touchline for a time before a cross came in which the goalie collected.
He sent Lanark forward with Callum Cook bringing it out of the air with his chest, directing it ready to come inside with three men around him. He pulled it off for two and was threatening to shoot when Donaldson put in an excellent challenge and set play off down the right where his teammates knocked it around and Bo’ness were starting to look confident in their abilities, trying some outlandish moves on the deck in the centre of the field.
With Lanark pushing for the upper hand and certainly having had the territory in the previous five minutes the feeling of the approaching half time whistle took over and the ref blew for the break.