SAUCHIE JUNIORS suffered their second defeat in a week on Saturday as Linlithgow Rose ran out 2-0 winners.

Since January 29, the Wee County side have won 12 of their 15 games in four different competitions, which included an eight-match winning run.

Fraser Duncan’s men have clicked into gear as the season nears its conclusion, however their streak has been stunted by two defeats in six days.

Context is key. Sauchie’s two defeats have came to two of the top three teams. On Saturday, they just couldn’t get going.

Fraser Duncan’s men made the trip to Prestonfield to face Linlithgow Rose. Within seconds, the referee blew for a foul by Ross Crawford on the hosts’ Gary Thom. It was a sign of things to come, with consistent stoppages meaning neither team could get into any kind of rhythm.

A frantic start saw Sauchie barely giving Linlithgow Rose any breathing space and Crawford was causing trouble. After the big striker won a free kick, Danny Smith delivered a low cross but nobody got to it. The hosts then countered up the park and Chic Bell was called upon, making the first save of the match to deny Nicky Riley’s shot.

Sean Heaver then left Will Greenhorn for dead with a great piece of skill before driving into the box. The cut back was the better option but Heaver went for goal and a mixture of Bell, a couple of Sauchie bodies and the woodwork kept the score even. Heaver’s corner was glanced towards goal by Alan Docherty but didn’t trouble the goalkeeper.

Docherty wouldn’t have to wait long to hit the net. Jon Tully was penalised for what looked like a soft foul. Duncan fumed, shouting expletives from the dugout. Docherty dispatched the free kick well over the wall, leaving Bell flat footed in the middle of his goal.

Sauchie would have their chances, none better than Jack Docherty. Sam Davidson’s clever pass found Crawford’s run. Linlithgow’s defenders stood still, thinking he was offside. Crawford was able to touch the ball across the face of goal before Dean Shaw could get a glove on it. With the ball bouncing into Docherty’s path, there should have been only one outcome. However, he couldn’t control the ball and, with an empty net in front of him, the chance was gone.

The move did seem to jolt Sauchie into life. Smith got onto the end of a long ball and beautifully dropped a shoulder to beat his man before launching a shot at goal. Shaw was on hand to block the shot and it fell to Brian Morgan on the edge of the box. The Sauchie veteran caught the ball sweetly on the half volley but Shaw was once again able to push the ball past the post.

A great diagonal pass then found Smith who controlled expertly and nutmegged his opponent before being brought down cynically. Sam Davidson took the set piece, going for power but the ball deflected off a Sauchie body for a goal kick.

Linlithgow’s Nicky Riley, who just complained to the sideline that he was struggling with his ankle, went down after losing the ball. With Sauchie in possession, the referee stopped the game. Understandably, Sauchie fumed.

Sauchie’s afternoon would get even worse just before the halfway point.

Conor McKenzie wasn’t closed down quickly enough and his through ball somehow made its way through a number of bodies. Conor McMullan was able to prod the ball past an outrushing Bell who brought the forward down. Heaver stepped up and dispatched the penalty with ease to double the hosts’ advantage.

Early in the second half Sauchie had a chance from an indirect free kick. Shaw was judged to have picked up a pass back and Smith stood over the ball. He rolled it into Docherty’s path but the wall blocked the shot easily.

In truth, the Reds were never able to get going in the second half and were it not for a brilliant clearance by Scott Davidson, Linlithgow would have been out of sight. A good break by the hosts saw Cammy Thomson whip in a great cross and Alan Sneddon was on the end of it. His header had Bell beaten by Davidson was on the line to stop it hitting the back of the net.

A lapse in concentration say Iain Syme give away a corner after failing to control a ball that Bell would easily have caught. From the resulting corner McMullan put the ball in the back of the net but he was offside.

Sauchie’s final chance fell to youngster Aidan Cracknell, who raced onto Sam Davidson’s through ball. One on one with the keeper, the striker finished poorly and it was an easy save for Shaw, who had a terrific game.

The match ended 2-0 with Sauchie bemoaning missed chances and poor decisions. The defeat leaves Sauchie seventh in the league table, three points behind Musselburgh with three games in hand.

Duncan’s men travelled to Penicuik last night after Advertiser Sport went to print, and face Lothian Thistle away on Saturday.

SAUCHIE: Bell, Davidson, Greenhorn (Syme), Tully, Hutchison, Smith, Davidson, Dickie (Cracknell), Crawford (Kavanagh), Docherty (Kelly), Morgan (Fisher). UNUSED: Columbine, Finlayson