Preston Athletic 1 Broxburn Athletic 4

TOP of the Conference C table going into Saturday’s game against second-placed Broxburn Athletic at the Pennypit, Preston knew they’d have their work cut out if they were to maintain their lofty position.

Three successive wins had helped Jack Lynch’s men get over the disappointment of their Scottish Cup exit at Linlithgow Rose’s hands at the beginning of last month, but there was no question Broxburn, boasting a 100 per cent league record, would be the toughest opponents they’d come up against since.

The visitors showed first when Miller shot over the bar four minutes in, before four minutes later Dylan Weldon had a great opening from a corner for Preston but he headed over.

Jack Findlay in the home goal then brought off a great save to keep Miller out, but it was third time lucky for the Broxburn striker when he broke the deadlock on 13 minutes, rounding Findlay before steering the ball into the net.

Midway through the half, Weldon fired over for Preston from just inside the penalty area, but with 27 minutes played they equalised through Scott Walker, who made room to shoot from 18 yards out.

Preston were fortunate on the half-hour to have men on their goal-line to clear away two more Miller efforts but their resilience saw them through to half time on level terms, despite losing Craig Innes to a red card on 39 minutes.

The first meaningful action of the second half came 10 minutes in when Findlay spilled a Miller shot, but the visitors’ Kelly was penalised for fouling the Preston keeper in the follow-up.

Five minutes late, Findlay tipped Kelly’s shot over, but Broxburn eventually regained the lead against 10-man Preston when Donaldson guided a ball into the box past the Preston keeper.

On 65 minutes, Townsley made it 3-1 when he headed in, and there was little doubt as to the destination of the points when Binnie added the visitors’ fourth on 74 minutes, and it could’ve been five when Beasley smashed a shot off the post late on.

Ultimately the handicap of playing with ten men against strong opposition for 50 minutes proved too much for Preston, who’ll face another formidable West Lothian challenge tomorrow (Saturday) when they pay their first visit in over 25 years to the Prestonfield home of Linlithgow Rose, a month after the Rose won 2-0 at the Pennypitt.

Lynch felt his team had missed an opportunity that day, but the barrowload of Rose goals scored at Ormiston last Saturday suggests they could be a tougher proposition this time around.

Ormiston 1 Linlithgow Rose 11

THE 10th match of Ormiston’s 2018/19 campaign brought former Junior cracks Linlithgow Rose to Recreation Park for the first time in more than 20 years – in the 1980s and 1990s the Rose could expect a tough time whenever they visited the village to face Ormiston Primrose, but times have changed since then and although the visitors’ form since the start of the season hadn’t been of a standard to greatly please their demanding support virtually no-one gave Ormiston a chance.

After seven straight defeats Ormiston had enjoyed a South Region Challenge Cup victory against Easthouses Lily a week earlier, a boost to morale within the club, but it took the visitors only seven minutes to get themselves in front – ex-Junior internationalist Tommy Coyne, who recently passed the 300-goal mark for Linlithgow, added another to his impressive career tally.

Ormiston weren’t of a mind to capitulate, and though pinned in their own half most of the time, they held out without conceding again for almost 20 minutes – their cause however was damaged greatly before the half’s midway point when they lost Reece Cochrane to a red card shown following an incident involving an opponent. The extra space afforded to Rose soon paid off, with Ronald doubling their lead on 25 minutes before a Watt penalty just before the half hour made it 3-0.

Coyne’s second 10 minutes before the break rounded off the first half scoring, but it was in the second half the differing standards of fitness, strength and ability really took their toll.

A goal from Thom (65) and a Strickland brace (64, 66) had the visitors seven up, but on 69 minutes there was an positive moment for local supporters when Keith Buckley scored a consolation for the home side.

Watt netted his second penalty of the afternoon within a minute of Buckley’s goal, then completed his hat-trick with quarter of an hour to go.

Strickland took the visitors into double figures with 12 minutes remaining, and netted his fourth two minutes from time.

This Saturday, Weir’s Ormiston are on the road to face Stirling University tomorrow (Saturday) – another testing afternoon could be in store – the students almost held Linlithgow to a draw a few weeks back at Prestonfield before conceding very late on.