Match date: 26th March 2022 Kickoff: 2.30 pm

Dunbar United    3        Linlithgow Rose    2

Following some recent selection woes it was a strong Dunbar side who took the field in this rearranged League game, the first one in December being abandoned with the Seasiders 2 – 1 up at the time.

Before the kick-off,  a minute’s silence was held for ex-Seasider Paul Hampshire which was well observed by everybody in the ground.

The Seasiders needed a win to ensure they didn’t get drawn into the relegation zone, meanwhile Linlithgow were aiming to go back top of the Premier League and two points clear of Penicuik in pole position for the title.

Manager Kevin Haynes has been unlucky with injuries and absence forcing more changes to his line ups than he would perhaps like,  this week it was the turn of centre-half Michael McFarlane to be absent.   McFarlane’s absence saw skipper Grant Thomson join club record signing Dean Whitson in the centre of the Seasiders defence, with Whitson himself returning from injury for his first game at Countess Park since the 16th of January.

Bob Berry was again the victim of his own flexibility with the classy midfielder this time deployed at right back.  However, it was an otherwise familiar looking Dunbar side with a strong bench also available with perhaps Johnny Edmond the only notable omission as the prolific striker continues his work to recover from injury.

Buoyed by their performance against the Rose last time around,  but with the pain of their heavy defeat in the corresponding fixture at Prestonfield back in August the lads were in no mood to let that happen again.

Dunbar took the game to their visitors from the start and were soon finding holes in their defence with the pace of Andy Jones causing problems for the visitors in the opening 30 minutes.  However, the goal wouldn’t come with chance after chance going a begging.

Then with the half time whistle approaching the inevitable happened, Linlithgow were awarded a penalty when Alan Sneddon was adjudged to be brought down by Dean Whitson. Up stepped Rose forward Mark Stowe who blasted the ball into the net for an interval lead.

Linlithgow came out for the second half looking to add to their tally.  They took only 10 minutes to score what they believed would be a killer blow, with Alan Sneddon hitting home from close range to give them a 2 goal lead.

Dunbar needed a spark to light up any chance of a fight back. Whether it was good luck or good judgement that provided the spark remains debatable but when Kieran Ingram took a bad injury on 70 minutes, it was then that the gaffer introduced Stevie Thomson into the fray. Despite only arriving back from Tenerife hours earlier,  his cultured left foot has become the stuff of legends over the years, and the Seasiders only had to wait for his second game at New Countess Park to see him step up and blast home a 25 yard free kick.

With 15 minutes remaining and now trailing by a single goal, Dunbar sensed an upset was on the cards and had some real urgency about their play. However, they still needed an equaliser and that duly arrived in the 85th minute.  A corner from the left from Darren Smith was headed on by Jamie Devlin to Dean Whitson and he drove the ball home much to the delight of the home support.

Dunbar were now looking for a winner, and with Dean Whitson urging his side to forget the celebrations and instead restart play,  Dunbar pushed forward and only 2 minutes later they had the winner. This time a Fraser Neave free kick on the right was headed home by Dean Whitson once again for a deserved winner.

Dunbar continued to work hard in the closing exchanges and had a late chance to make it 4 when Fraser Neave played in Jaciz Balde, who also had the tireless Jamie Devlin up in support.  The winger, rightly, took the chance on himself but this time Shaw in the Linlithgow goal had done well to narrow Balde’s angle and save the resultant tame shot.

Overall, a stunning fight back from Dunbar who never gave up, but just needed a spark to light the fire. Incredibly this was Dunbar’s first league win over Linlithgow Rose in 83 years and their first win, in any competition, over the Rose at Dunbar for 62 years.

The supporters of both sides left the ground stunned by what they had just seen, unsurprisingly for different reasons.  The result was even more important with Blackburn United in 15th place winning against Sauchie, but this win sees Dunbar move up to 12th place, albeit the hard work will need to continue for The Seasiders to be sure of their fate when the EoSFL leagues restructure come the end of the season.

This Saturday at New Countess Park, Dunbar continue their East of Scotland League Cup campaign against Group H League leaders, Whitehill Welfare. Tickets are now on sale via the club’s Fanbase app.

Man Of The Match:  Dean Whitson.

Dunbar United: Laing, Ingram, G Thomson, Devlin, Berry, Hanlon, Jones, Neave, Fleming, Smith, Whitson. Subs: Mack (gk), S Thomson, Bathgate, Hay, Weir, Balde.

Linlithgow Rose: Shaw, Thomson, Baur, Stowe, Heaver, Mckenzie, hare, Ogilvie, McMullan, Sneddon, Allan: Subs: Allison, Payne, Halleran, Dublin-Green, Bremner, Riley, McMinn (gk)

Match photos courtesy of Dave Black and Gordon Maitland.