WEST LOTHIAN COUNTY CUP SEMI-FINAL: Sunday 5 March, 2017, King George V Park, Carnwath
A euphoric last-minute winner took Bathgate into the County Cup final after a hard-earned victory against Forth Athletic. Extra-time looked certain at 2-2 until Sean’s header propelled Thistle into the final in May at Livingston’s Almondvale Stadium.
It was just reward for the Bathgate players, who could have been out of sight by half-time after scoring twice and hitting the crossbar twice. A disputed penalty saw Forth equalise ten minutes from the end but, with extra-time looming, Sean’s late intervention won the game in dramatic fashion.
Bathgate started strongly with Connor’s piercing run and finish opening the scoring on 12 minutes. However, Forth equalised with a stunning strike by midfielder Harry which soared into the top corner.
Connor restored the visitors’ advantage with a well-taken free-kick which nestled in the corner of the Forth net. Two efforts rebounding off the crossbar in the first half left Bathgate holding a slender 2-1 lead at the interval.
Thistle’s second-half performance didn’t quite reach the heights of the first period and, with ten minutes left, they conceded a penalty. Harry stroked it home for Forth but the boys in blue showed their true character as the minutes ticked away.
They had no intention of allowing this tie to reach extra-time. In the dying seconds, David clipped a free-kick to the back post and Sean rose in between two markers to nod his team into the County Cup final.
The Bathgate players celebrated wildly after another fantastic achievement. From Barry in goal, through Kieran, Darren, Sean, Leon and Ross in defence, James, Craig, Sam, Kieran and Dylan in midfield, plus David, Elliot Connor, Bailey and Billy up front, they had a collection of players who refused to accept anything other than victory.