A three week break in the middle of the season has allowed the players to recharge their batteries while BU manager Steve Kerrigan takes the time to plan for the important five months ahead.
At the start of this historic campaign the main priority for Bo’ness United was to finish in the top five of their conference for a place in the top division of the East of Scotland League for next season. The summer had seen the usual turnover of players with significant signings such as Brian Morgan and Iain Syme from Sauchie Juniors, and Alex Marshall making his return to Newtown to provide competition for the goalkeeping spot. Mark Kelly and Ryan Stevenson went the other way returning to their parent clubs although the most noteworthy departure was Scott Gibb who decided to retire from playing after seven years at Newtown Park.
The League cup provided the initial games the first being a home defeat against a much improved Jeanfield Swifts. This setback gave the BUs something to ponder in terms of their progress although thankfully they won the rest of the section games and will play at home to Tynecastle in the preliminary round, the winners visiting Newtongrange Star for the first round proper of that competition.
The first League match was a home demolition of Lothian Thistle and this part of the mission is on schedule so far, Bo’ness sitting in fifth place with games in hand on the teams above them. Six wins from ten games with only one defeat represents a decent record to date.
In cup games Bo’ness lost out at current Lowland League leaders East Kilbride in the South Challenge Cup and after wins at home to Crossgates Primrose and away to Dundonald Bluebell the BUs exited the Football Nation Cup at Tranent Juniors.
It was the Alex Jack Cup however that has provided the main drama of the season so far. This is a significant trophy, the winners entering a play off with the South of Scotland tournament winners for the South and East Cup Winners Shield, and a place in next season’s Scottish Cup. It started well with a big home win against Tweedmouth Rangers followed by a narrow win at Crossgates. A great fightback at Tranent had Bo’ness into the semi final where a late goal at Haddington Athletic saw the BUs celebrate a place in the final where they would meet Camelon Juniors. Unfortunately it was discovered new signing Craig Comrie, who had come on as a substitute at Haddington, was ineligible due to an outstanding suspension and Bo’ness were eliminated from the tournament. The outcome was Camelon being awarded the trophy, defeating Bonnyton Thistle for the South and East Cup Winners Shield to win a place in next season’s Scottish Cup.
That is now gone although the BUs still have the opportunity for silverware whether the League Cup or the late season tournament, the King Cup, but looking ahead the League remains the priority and Bo’ness United have fourteen games to ensure their top division spot.
The mission recommences on Saturday with a game at Dunipace, Bo’ness having already gained a narrow victory at Newtown in the early part of the season with a solitary goal scored by Joshua Watt. This will be the first competitive game for the BUs at a revamped Westfield, Dunipace also benefitting from funding to lay an artificial surface and install floodlights. Dunipace have only managed ten points from thirteen games played and it will take a considerable change in fortunes for the Stirlingshire side to achieve a top five spot. In recent weeks a win and draw against Tynecastle in their last two games followed up a heavy defeat at Crossgates Primrose and a good win versus Burntisland.
With both teams having rested over the last few weeks the players should be fresh but it is the team who gets up to speed first who will triumph. In the months to come the manager and players obviously have their role, but the BU Faithful also have their part to play in providing the team with as noisy a support as possible and encourage them to a successful conclusion in this important campaign.
03 January 2019