SAUCHIE JUNIORS’ unbeaten start to the league season came to an end on Saturday in an explosive six-goal thriller.

Having picked up 10 points from their opening four games, Sauchie were full of confidence going into Saturday’s showdown with Linlithgow Rose.

However, a poor start to the match saw the visitors race into a three goal lead thanks to goals from Gary Thom, Mark Stowe and Alan Sneddon.

Sauchie were able to reduce the deficit to one with goals from Jack Docherty and Ross Kavanagh but were then caught on the break as they pushed for the equaliser and the electric pace of substitute Alan Docherty sealed the three points.

Fraser Duncan’s side lined up once again with Brian Morgan in the centre of defence and Conor Kelly out on the right wing. Kavanagh, who was been in sensational scoring form so far this season, led the line.

Summer recruit Conor Willaghan started at right-back with Ross Hutchison on the opposite side.

From the first minute it was clear that Linlithgow Rose’s gameplan was to try and get in behind the full backs, constantly searching for the ball over the top which Willaghan initially struggled to deal with.

The visitors would take the lead early in the first half in controversial style. An apparent foul was ignored by the referee as Linlithgow won a corner. The delivery was met by Gary Thom who was able to force the ball over the line.

Not long after that their lead was doubled. A long ball over the top caught Hutchison under the ball and Stowe controlled well before opening his body up and side footing the ball over Chic Bell into the far post.

Sauchie kept banging on the door but struggled to test Cameron Binnie with efforts either being blocked or not hitting the target.

Sam Collumbine won the ball back from a poor Linlithgow pass and was able to cut inside and fire a left footed shot at goal but it was well over the bar.

With Sauchie looking to get back into the game, the visitors then tripled their lead through Sneddon. Conor McMullan called for the ball and then cleverly let it run through him for the run of Sneddon who fired a shot low into the far corner leaving Bell with no chance.

Sauchie did manage to pull one back before the interval. Collumbine’s clever reverse ball was controlled brilliantly by Kelly who juggled the ball twice before setting himself up for the volley.

Jack Docherty had the same idea and stole the ball off Kelly’s toe. His shot was blocked but thankfully his second effort took a deflection off Alex Webb on its way to beating Binnie.

After giving themselves a glimmer of hope, Sauchie then added a second early in the second half. Kelly produced a great bit of skill to earn half a yard out wide before pulling the ball back to Kavanagh and the striker’s confidence showed as he smashed a half-volley into the far post leaving Binnie rooted to the spot.

Bell showed his class to produce a brilliant save to stop Stowe’s free kick which took a deflection off the wall and kept Sauchie within one goal of the opponent.

The visitors were then reduced to 10 as Cammy Thomson was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Kelly and at this point, with all momentum on the hosts’ side, it seemed likely they would get their equaliser.

However, it wasn’t to be as Sauchie were punished for their poor decision making. Kelly decided to play a corner short to Danny Smith and his left footed delivery was blocked. Substitute Docherty picked up the ball just outside his team’s own penalty box and raced the length of the pitch, outrunning three Sauchie players before calmly side footing the ball past a helpless Bell.

A poor back pass gave the visitors the chance to extend their lead again but Bell stood tall and denied Owen Andrew a goal.

In the dying minutes Morgan would then be dismissed for a second yellow after standing on the toe of one of the opposition but by that point the game was out of Sauchie’s reach.

Having come into the match on a run of three wins and a draw in the league, Sauchie have made a considerably better start to this season than last when they struggled to find three points in the opening weeks.

Despite the scoreline there is positives to take from the performance and now the focus turns to the Scottish Cup.

Sauchie’s debut campaign in the competition last season was a great success for the club and they’ll be looking to kickstart another historic journey at home to St Andrews United on Saturday.

SAUCHIE: Bell, Hutchison, Morgan, Carroll, Willaghan (Tully), S Collumbine (Connor), Dickie (Cracknell), Docherty, Smith (McGaughie), C Kelly, Kavanagh (K Kelly). UNUSED: Peacock, E Collumbine