Linlithgow Rose growth bodes well for next season says assistant boss John Millar

Despite missing out on a title win and potential promotion, Linlithgow Rose assistant boss John Millar is taking plenty of positives from this season’s third-place finish in the East of Scotland Premier Division.

Mark Stowe netted his 41st goal of the season for Linlithgow from penalty spot (Library pic)
Mark Stowe netted his 41st goal of the season for Linlithgow from penalty spot (Library pic)

“To be frank I’m not sure if this was the season to go for promotion,” Millar said.

"Because I don’t think anyone beats Darvel. I think Darvel will dominate the play-offs then probably go on to win the Lowland League next year.

"This has been a very good season for many of our guys. I think we brought in 11 new players.

"It’s been a season of great growth and the guys have really stepped up to the mark.

“The likes of Callum Bremner, Connor McMullan, Liam Allison who’s just come back after 16 months out, Jamie Allan coming in and being exceptional in midfield, Sean Heaver coming in from Stirling Albion who scored a number of goals and a lot of quality goals as well.

"It’s been a coming of age season for the squad because I think we’ve got something like 12 players under-23. Sometimes with youthful comes a little bit of inconsistency and we saw that towards the end of the season.

"But the experiences the boys have gone through will stand them in really good stead for next season.

"If we can add the four or five we need for next year I think we’re going to be exceptionally strong.”

Rose go into Friday’s home League Cup second round tie against Kirkcaldy and Dysart, which kicks off at 7.30pm, on the back of ending their East of Scotland Premier Division campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Penicuik Athletic on Saturday.

Nicky Reid’s double – either side of Mark Stowe’s penalty equaliser for Linlithgow – earned victory for second placed Cuikie on the day but wasn’t enough for them to win the league as they finished below champions Tranent Juniors, who triumphed 2-0 at home to Jeanfield Swifts, on goal difference.

“It had the feel of an end of season game to be honest with you,” said Millar.

"I think Tranent scored very early to go 2-0 up against Jeanfield so I think Penicuik probably knew themselves they were out the title race.

"And of course we fell out the title race the week before.

"It’s a game that we should definitely have got something from, whether that was a draw or a win.

"I think both the goals we conceded were avoidable.”

Millar said that Rose have major problems with squad fitness for the Kirkcaldy and Dysart match.

"To be totally honest we have a number of significant injuries,” he added.

"It is a bit of a bare bones squad at the minute. I think we’ve got something like six potential starters all missing on Friday night so it’s going to be a difficult game.

"Kirkcaldy are a good side. I’ve got two or three reports on them and they’re a really aggressive, high tempo team with strikers who can finish and score goals.

"They’re sitting fourth in the division below which is a really competitive division with the likes of Haddington, Leith and Dunipace in that league.

"They’ll be a good outfit, they’ll be stuffy, they’ll come to Prestonfield and as every team does they’ll be looking for a big upset.

"So it’ll be a challenging cup tie but it's one we feel we can win.”

Rose also have the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Penicuik on Sunday, May 29, with kick-off at 2pm.

"There is excitement in terms of the cup final coming up,” Millar said.

"It’s an opportunity to win silverware for the first time in eight years which is quite incfedible for Linlithgow Rose.

"There’s a chance to do a cup double. Hopefully the minimum is a single cup and that would be a great achievement considering when we came in we effectively had to build a brand new squad.”