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Dunipace late show secures cup over Bathgate

Bathgate Rose 1

Allison 4

Dunipace Juniors 3

Fitzpatrick 90+1, Hewitt 93, Steven 97
  • Final Result: Bathgate Rose 1-3 Dunipace Juniors (AET)
Robin Haskins

Robin Haskins | YFS South East Region Journalist
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

The game kicked off for the final instalment of the weekend’s County Finals at the Livingston FC Stadium and even though the turn-out was fairly low there was a good atmosphere as the game got underway. After a couple of through balls behind the Dunipace defence, Bathgate tried to play it out wide through James McGrane the captain to Mark Drummond on the right wing and were awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal when play came back inside.
 
Liam Allison stepped up and walloped a left footed pile-driver swinging high and dipping and it looped and tucked itself out of reach in the right hand corner of the goal to make it one nil to Bathgate with just four minutes on the clock. It was a fantastic goal to start to the game.
 
The next opportunity arrived a couple of minutes after the restart when Drummond linked up with Jack McLaren who crossed only for it to ricochet off of Dunipace’s Murray Smith into the path of Allison who couldn’t quite bring it under the control needed to set up the shot.
 
Bathgate continued to probe for the next few minutes and when McGrane’s long, cross-field ball located Drummond deep it was unlucky to be called offside. The first real opportunity of the game for Dunipace followed shortly after when Andrew Meade slotted it through for Callum McRae but the goalkeeper for Bathgate Gary Thomas was alert and was out quickly to clear it high and long.
 
Darren Swords looked to get a hold of the ball in the centre for Dunipace and start a patient style of build-up play, waiting for the right moment and playing an incisive pass forward into the attackers’ feet. However McGrane was defining a good role in front of the defence linking up the attack for Bathgate and on fifteen minutes he received a good ball from Allison out on the left and pushed forward to win a corner. Unfortunately it went over everyone and out long behind the goal.
 
Then Dunipace began to make in-roads down the left on a few occasions but on a break from one Bathgate’s Alistair MacArthur took the ball down around a defender in front of him, keeping the pace on the bounce and then hooked a superb half-volley at a stretch, fast towards the goal and it bent flat and fast and crashed against the inside of the post with the diving keeper Taylor Jackson just reaching across and taking the pace off it. It came down and ran along the goal front and everyone gasped in awe at the shot and in amazement at the proximity to making it two nil.
 
On twenty minutes, Ryan Shanks had begun foraging forward for Dunipace on the left but Jack McLaren had been resilient and set the tone early on with a big challenge at the byline before clearing the ball out for an attack to start through McGrane at pace again.
 
Dunipace were getting territory now but Bathgate had a well organised defence, Jordan Bryce collecting and from McGrane again play moved forward speedily between back and front and Bryce took a wicked shot that the goalie Jackson left calmly but it only just went wide surely, it was a mean strike.
 
Nearing the half hour, Bathgate went close with a chance as Bryce played in Drummond who took it into the area, backed up his defender before going round him to the inside byline and pulling back a lobbed cross which Bryce got to with his head but it looped high and over.
 
Now MacArthur picked it up on the left inside the opponents half for Bathgate, he turned and ran and went past a couple of players drifting off towards the right and into the area where he pulled the trigger with venom and the ball whistled past the left post.
 
There was a last ditch challenge shortly after on Zak Raymen in the Bathgate box and it was cleared following what was excellent defending the defender putting his foot solidly on the ball. However, Dunipace came back at Bathgate and it was Raymen again who got in behind the defence and pulled it back to create a goal-mouth scramble  with McRae nearly knocking it in but the Bathgate defence was alert again.
 
It seemed as though Bathgate were getting weary of the prolonged pressure from Dunipace, Swords floating in a free kick to McRae at the far post with a good nicely controlled first time cushioned volley back across goal which was not rewarded with the result it deserved and found the keeper Thomas’ hands.
 
The game swung this way and that with Bathgate now unable to stay long up the field but remaining concentrated and retaining their discipline as conversely Dunipace were getting frustrated that their efforts weren’t paying off and began conceding needless and niggly fouls. A deep cross came in from the right boot of captain Ruari Gillespie now with shape and rise on it and Shanks looked then to get a long throw into the area shortly afterwards, but still the danger didn’t alight with a goal.
 
McGrane played a long ball wide and right and Bryce collected it and drilled it fast into the box, Drummond gets to it but can’t direct it in the crowded area and the goalie Jackson picks it up and throws out. Then two balls left the stadium, which was to become quite a theme throughout the match at one point everyone stood around wondering if there were anymore left!
 
But on thirty eight minutes, now with a ball, McGrane raced clear out of defence still the pivot his team was turning on and lightening getting it out and way up field away from the area and danger. Then some long ball play scattered with direct passing followed between the sides and a chase on goal from Bryce but it was creeping towards half time as an attack followed an attack and finally after a corner won by Ross Balmer for Dunipace came in from Swords saw Greg McAuslan crowded out of a header, the referee blew for the end of the first half.
Dunipace were out early for the second half and it seemed to be forever before Bathgate arrived but it was Dunipace who started the second half as they had ended the first, probing and winning a free kick which was launched deep into the Bathgate box for Jordan Bryce to clear it. Then Bryce was involved a few minutes later getting in behind the defence from a pass from MacArthur and he hit a shot bearing down on the area which the keeper was behind.
 
Then Darren Swords for Dunipace played in McAuslan into the area well and at the byline a cross was cleared but then a reverse ball from Swords again found Drummond on the edge and he crossed diagonally into the area in front of goal but there was no telling touch. It seemed Bathgates defence was also intent on continuing in the second half there qualities from the first.
 
A free kick from Jack McGurk from the left was floated in close and went straight through everyone after 8 minutes had passed of this second half and the opportunity was just waiting to be hit but the goalie recovered and cleared. Some attritional throw-ins followed down the left followed by some nervous defending at last from Bathgate, oh and another ball out of the ground.
 
More throw-ins this time on the right ensued from Dunipace and this time captain Gillespie was looking for a couple of searching passes down the line to McRae and they needed to be cleared. Bathgate were happy to soak up the pressure as Dunipace looked wide left again to Shanks but Bathgate should have been aware as Swords played a good one two releasing Raymen on the left wing; Dunipace were definitely beginning to play with mite of composure.
 
The shock came as Bathgate started putting some needless passes loose, and Dunipace responded Gillespie playing in McRae at the edge and getting on the return which ricocheted inside the area and nearly found its way into the net. Bathgate were showing frustration and conceded another freekick and got a talking to from the referee to boot. The free kick was floated in deep but Thomas collected and cleared far up pitch for Bathgate to release some pressure.
 
From a corner the Dunipace defence having got something on it, saw the ball bounce clear to MacArthur on the right of the box and expected an offside as well but it never came and he was clear and luckily the shot was fairly easy to collect or Dunipace could have been ruing their luck. They were under the cosh now though as Bathgate sniffed a second and were happy to be able to rescue control back a few minutes later.
 
They resumed the pressure with even more intensity than previously and Bathgate were visibly fighting with themselves for solidity at the back again. However, that was a spring board for a long clearance which sent MacArthur racing clear again but from deeper on the half way line and thankfully again for Dunipace he was ruled offside.
 
Dunipace came right back at Bathgate though, chomping at the bit to find the equaliser with both of the fullbacks playing a prominent role in starting and constructing attacks with Balmer and Raymen providing skill on the overlaps to link up cleanly.
 
On the half hour mark a great flowing counter attack followed a Bathgate corner for Dunipace as Bradley Hewitt charged forward, passed it out to Fitzpatrick who gave it back to Hewitt and collected the return into the box at a hundred miles an hour and pulled it back for the side step of Raymen who was destined to score but 19 put in a crunching challenge to block the shot and was soon hobbling off injured for his bravery.
 
Jack Steven was now making an impact down the left for Dunipace as Bathgate continued to defend and as Gillespie played in a good diagonal cross which went through to the keeper, Bathgate looked to have another centre back down and injured after making a crucial interception. Dunipace were wearing them down any way they could.
 
Bathgate tried to get a foothold going forward now but Dunipace came back and another ball went out of the stadium before Fitzpatrick strode forward and set up Swords for a shot with spaces opening up and legs tiring.
 
With five minutes remaining Dunipace relieved their own pressure conceding a free kick which Bathgate lofted high into the box from their own half and on the counter, Jack Steven spread play well, wide out to Balmer who crossed it superbly but the keeper Thomas made an excellent diving save to resist the power on the shot that followed up.
 
The support rose and appreciated that that superb save could have been a match winner for Bathgate.
 
However only minutes later, as a goal mouth scramble fired up in the area to everyone’s amazement the referee blew for a penalty to Dunipace. They had the chance to equalise. In the 92nd minute of the game!
 
The ball was placed and Declan Fitzpatrick stepped up and put it square to the left of the keeper to make it one all with only enough time left for a goal mouth scramble at the other end as Bathgate fought to get their lead back desperately, and a counter attack ending in Ross Balmer attempting a half volley scissor kick at close enough range to batter a Bathgate player to the ground and then the referee blew the full time whistle and we were to face extra-time!

The first periods of extra time were scrappy but Dunipace were keeping up the momentum and soon Ryan Shanks picked it up out left on the touchline and danced inside and forward towards the area, sidestepping right and passing left into the path of Bradley Hewitt coming across out left of the area and Hewitt struck it first time with his left on to the ball, sending it low and left to the near post and it went and squeezed into the bottom corner of the goal to make it 1-2 to Dunipace! Incredible!

Bathgate had lost their poise entirely now but continued to battle and string passes together knowing that having had the lead for almost all of the game they just couldn’t give up on it now. However it was Dunipace who soon had the chance to finish the game as Hewitt collected on the wide left of the box and found Raymen perfectly with such a difficult ball to execute but sadly for him it came up off Raymen’s knee, although then it looped up and down and looked like it was going in but it came off the bar and Rayment despaired as he reached but failed to get the rebound.

Next it was Balmer who got down the right to the byline and saw plenty of options in the box, he middled it along the ground and Jack Steven saw it rolling his way, set himself and hit it hard and low to the left post and got a great connection, enough to hit the keepers palm and spin in slowly across the line and inside the post. He’d made it 1-3 and surely the cup was Dunipaces’ now?!

The game passed by with frustrations boiling over and a dismissal from the bench being qualified with a yellow card branded on the pitch but with the only meaningful action coming from Bathgate for the remainder of the first half of extra time, the second half started to a strangely subdued atmosphere, the game feeling over and Bathgate feeling thoroughly disappointed despite persisting against their own annoyances to play the rest of the game.

Liam Allison almost pounced on a momentary lapse from Bathgate in defence but the keeper Thomas did well to block the follow up and although it bounced back to Allison to lay on a colleague the follow up shoot was ballooned over, but not out.

Darren Mitchell chased down a forward ball for Bathgate on two occasions the second forcing a corner which resulted in a great save from a direct header and from the next corner another strong shot blocked and you could only imagine what the final ten minutes of extra time would have been like had it got pulled back to 2-3!

Jack Steven nearly played in Balmer and McGurk had to clear it. Balmer was involved twice more before the end, nearly muscling out an opportunity before being staged on the counter from Hewitt but the end of this immense game had finally arrived and it was a miracle there were no penalties the way this game had swapped hands, but testament to all involved there was a great deal of respect between the sides at the end amongst the hand-shakes and the commiserations and it was good to see following some frayed tempers in an enthralling final.

Final Result: Final Result: Bathgate Rose 1-3 Dunipace Juniors (AET)

Lineups

Bathgate Rose
Dunipace Juniors
1. Gary Thomas
2. Jack McLaren
3. Jack McGurk
4. Ross Mitchell
6. Jay Doyle
7. Mark Drummond
8. Steven Hook
9. Alistair MacArthur
10. Jay Strang
11. Billy Pearson
12. Jordan Bryce
13. Darren Mitchell
14. Kevin Kellock
15. Liam Allison
16. James McGrane ©
17. Kieran Cook
19. Gary Short
1. Taylor Jackson
2. Ruari Gillespie ©
3. Ryan Shanks
4. Declan Fitzpatrick
5. Michael Walker
6. Andrew Meade
7. Ross Balmer
8. Darren Swords
9. Callum McRae
10. Zak Raymen
11. Jack Steven
12. Murray Smith
14. Greg McAuslan
15. Bradley Hewitt
16. Tyler Mason
17. Cameron King
Star Player
Bathgate Rose
Dunipace Juniors
Allison – stepped up to take a superb free kick to set the game alight and played consummately throughout the game.
Fitzpatrick – Stepped up to tale the penalty under bucket loads of pressure to take the game to extra time.
Magic Moment
Bathgate Rose
Dunipace Juniors
The excellent save by Gary Thomas in goal four minutes from the end of normal time for Bathgate which looked to be the match winning save.
The penalty going in to equalise without a doubt after so much pressure had been applied for it throughout the whole game and it came down to a one on one 12 yards out.

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