Blackburn United 2 (Campbell 6mins, McQuillan 29mins)
Linlithgow Rose 4 (Allum 11mins, OG 47mins, Coyne 54mins & 90+1mins)
United’s opening Premier Division fixture was as tough as it gets with the visitors being amongst the early season favourites for the title and the local derby pulled in a near 250 crowd that witnessed the Rose on the attack first, a diagonal ball finding Allum who took a touch past John Drummond before striking a left foot effort that Darren Mitchell clawed away. However, it was Blackburn who hit the front little more than sixty seconds later when a measured ball from the back split the defensive core of Linlithgow and when Danny CAMPBELL darted onto it he sidestepped the outrushing goalkeeper with no little aplomb before calmly side-footing it into the waiting net from just inside the eighteen yard box. Indeed, it was so very nearly two just two minutes later but when Campbell turned provider Andy McQuillan’s angled shot drew a smart save from McKinven. The early United lead, though, was cancelled out not long thereafter when a deep corner from the Rose left found Thom loitering on the back post and when he directed it down into ALLUM’S path the striker made no mistake. Mitchell then had to be alert to save Danny Smith’s drive from the edge of the area as the Prestonfield men looked to assert themselves and the little livewire again came close when dancing in off the right, but his angled effort was touched over by Mitchell who then did brilliantly to pull off a double save some eight or so minutes later to deny first Allum and then Smith on the follow-up. However, when the next goal arrived it was to be Blackburn who were celebrating again, a clever Stuart MacLeod turn in midfield earning him the space to find Campbell on the left who quickly spotted the run of McQUILLAN and provided his fellow front man with the perfect weight of pass to allow him to confidently pick his spot behind McKinven. With the visiting defence struggling to cope with the penetration of the United front two, Calum McDowall, Kieran Welsh and Dominic Kane then linked for the latter to pick out Campbell but his acrobatic half volley scraped over the junction of post and bar. Campbell was the creator again moments later, sliding in McQuillan to beat the offside trap but this time he lacked a little in composure and sent his parting shot high and wide and another chance to double the lead was gone.
Two minutes after the resumption Blackburn contrived to give their opponents a mighty helping hand when the second of two corners arrived at the back post and captain Michael Browne somehow contrived to steer a header behind his own goalkeeper for a Rose equaliser. A further two minutes had elapsed when Gray hit a stunning twenty five yarder that rattled against the right hand post with Mitchell beaten but relieved that the woodwork had come to his rescue. However, Linlithgow did find the third goal they were looking for within five minutes, Barbour delivering a ball that was only half cleared and the prolific Tommy COYNE was on hand to lash home. MacLeod and Welsh then seemed to confuse each other in going for a ball which allowed Meikle to take advantage, playing in Coyne whose half-volley whizzed past. Twenty minutes from time United were almost back level but when Mitchell’s long clearance was misjudged allowing Campbell in on goal his stabbed effort was blocked by the legs of McKinven and although McQuillan was first to the loose ball his shot was deflected over the top by a back tracking defender. At the other end Slaven flicked on a high one that fell to Ronald but his pop at goal was too high. With three minutes remaining and with Blackburn having thrown centre-half Drummond up front and going to three at the back to try and force a way back into the game Drummond helped a Craig Young ball out to McDowall on the right and when his return pass was thumped goalwards by the marauding Drummond, McKinven was on hand to save only for the ball to spin loose but when Drummond looked to get onto it again a grounded Linlithgow defender threw himself in front of him to baulk his run. Mr. McCart, however, was non-plussed and the loud penalty appeals were waived away. To add insult to injury, in time added on the visitors broke away for Smith to draw Mitchell and square to COYNE who had made a lung bursting supporting run and the striker had the easiest of tasks to double his own tally and secure the points for his team.
Blackburn United line-up: Mitchell, Welsh (Hirooka 73), Lawrie, Browne, Drummond, Kane (Young 68), Hutton (L.Devine 63), MacLeod, McQuillan, Campbell, McDowall Subs (not used): MacKay, Bonnar, Jackson, Morajda
Linlithgow Rose line-up: McKinven, Gray, Scullion, Thom, Dar.Smith, Barbour, Ronald, Allum, Meikle, Coyne, Dan.Smith Subs: Strickland, White, Slaven
Referee: Mr. Michael McCart
Assistants: Mr. James Taylor & Mr. Lewis Graham