Bo’ness United overcame East of Scotland champions Bonnyrigg Rose in a sudden death shootout to qualify for the final of the League Cup after a thrilling night at Carmuirs, writes Kevin McAlpine.
United had to play almost the entirety of extra time with ten men after the controversial dismissal of Devon Jacobs, and gamely held on to book their place in the showpiece final this Sunday against Musselburgh.
The visitors started the match well and there were no signs of a hangover after their title celebrations at the weekend. As early as the second minute Andy Murphy in the Bo’ness goal had to save well from Aaron Murrell after slick passing from Neil Martyniuk and Lewis Turner carved open the United defence.
Fifteen minutes in Keith Lough struck the outside of the post with a toe poke from 12 yards, the striker should have done better with the chance after another fine Bonnyrigg build up. It took the home side a good half an hour to settle into the game and they could have taken the lead in the 34th minute when Marty Wright raced clear after great work from Brian Morgan only for Michael Andrews to prove equal to the effort and palm wide.
Bo’ness finished the half well but were struck a blow a mere 25 seconds into the second period when Bonnyrigg opened the scoring.
There seemed little danger when Jacobs picked up the ball at right back under no pressure, but the full-back was woefully short with a passback and Murrell seized upon the chance to advance towards goal and clip a neat finish past Murphy, and into the corner.
Bo’ness manager Max Christie changed his side to a 3-5-2 formation with the introduction of Will Snowdon to proceedings and started to put real pressure on the visitors for the first time in the match. With 15 minutes remaining Bo’ness got the equaliser they sought when Andrews could only palm out a fierce Snowdon effort into the path of the advancing Morgan who gleefully fired home his 17th goal of the season from close range.
Bo’ness created three decent chances in the final three minutes of the game as they pushed hard for the winner, but on each occasion they were off target and extra-time was needed to try and determine a winner.
In the first minute of extra time Jacobs was shown a contentious second yellow card for a handball in midfield, and Bo’ness had to endure wave after wave of Bonnyrigg attacks for the remainder of the game.
Twice Murphy made superb one-on-one stops to deny Murrell and force a penalty shootout. Josh Macdonald missed United’s first penalty while Bonnyrigg netted their first four despite Murphy getting a hand to three of them.
Martyniuk stepped up to win the tie for Bonnyrigg only for Murphy to make an outstanding stop and keep Bo’ness in the tie. Murphy saved again, this time from Swanson.
Up stepped former Bonnyrigg player Michael Gemmell to stroke home the decisive kick past Andrews and spark wild celebrations in the home support.
Bo’ness: Murphy, Jacobs, Syme, Hunter, Campbell, Gemmell, Comrie, Morgan, MacKenzie (Keast), Stevenson (Macdonald) and Wright (Snowdon). Unused: Marshall.