Hill of Beath Hawthorn - 1
Linlithgow Rose - 2
Kiers Park, Hill of Beath
Hill of Beath slumped to their eighth defeat of the season on a bitterly cold day in Fife. The overnight snow didn't come to much, and Kiers Park passed an early pitch inspection to give the Haws their first game since the middle of February. There were light flurries of snow throughout the match, but it was the biting easterly wind that was to cause most trouble for the two sides.
Playing into the wind was a big disadvantage, with the keepers kicks barely making to the half-way line, and it was the home side that would suffer in the first half. Rose were quick to make the most of the advantage, putting Stuart Hall in the Haws goal to the test at every opportunity. It only took the visitors nine minutes to get the break through, when Batchelor made the most of some hesitant defending, to slip the ball low past Hall for the opener.
Haws were struggling to make any impact on the game, with Watt & Elder up front starved of any real supply. Calum Adamson was trying hard, but the Rose defence were doing a decent job, restricting the home side to a few speculative efforts. Haws had to make a change after only 20 minutes, Lewis Elder leaving the field with a nasty looking facial injury after a clash in the centre circle.
If the weather doing its best to spoil the game, the ref wasn't helping much either, being fussy and a little too fond of his whistle. He was continually stopping play and penalising virtually every tackle, much to the frustration of both sides.
Linlithgow were in control of the game, but couldn't find the second goal despite some decent chances. Haws were battling hard to keep the visitors at bay, but were showing no signs of creating anything themselves. They gave away a string of free-kicks in dangerous areas, but Rose were unable to capitalise.
Late in the half, things were starting to get a bit tasty, with some hefty tackles flying in. The ref wasn't doing a great job, and there were a few times it looked like getting out of control, so it was a relief when half-time came and everyone had a chance to calm down.
After the break, it the Haws turn to get the wind assistance, and they quickly looked like a different side. They were able to hold a much higher line, and get the ball to the front two a lot quicker. Grierson and Adamson were beginning to see plenty of the ball in wide areas, and were starting to create a few chances. But the Rose defence were coping well, and the visitors still carried plenty of threat of their own on the counter attack. The ref was still having a nightmare, booking Leishman for a soft hand-ball decision, leaving the defender walking a tightrope with every tackle.
Adamson nearly got his side level in the 70th minute, with an inch perfect cross that the keeper did well to take with Watt waiting to pounce. But the Haws finally got their equaliser five minutes later, with Darrin Wright rising highest in a crowded penalty area to nod home Adamson's corner.
On the strength of their second half display, Haws were good value for their equaliser, and looked like they might hold on for a decent point. But Linlithgow had other ideas, and within two minutes, they were back in front, Roddy MacLennan grabbing the winner with just ten minutes to go. Rose are still in the title race, and although it wasn't pretty, given the dreadful conditions, this was a valuable win to keep them within five points of the leaders with four games in hand.
For Hill of Beath, it would have been a great point in their mid-table scrap. If they could've held on. They had the look of a team who hadn't played for a month, and will be hoping the winter weather fades quickly so they can start to clear their backlog of fixtures. Next week the Haws travel to Arniston for their re-arranged 3rd Round Cup tie, before the trip to Brought Athletic in the SuperLeague.
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