Rovers earn draw with late fight back

Leith Athletic 2 Peebles Rovers 2

Leith started the match brightly and it took a good block from Ross Forrest in the heart of the Rovers defence to prevent their first effort after just 3 minutes from hitting the target. The warning wasn’t headed though and two minutes later the home side took the lead. A lapse in concentration allowed Leith to break down the left wing and the low cross was side footed home from close range by Daniel Garvey.

It took almost 20 minutes before Rovers had their only  meaningful chance of the half, Gregor Lamb finding space 10 yards out but his shot lacked power and was comfortably saved by former Peebles ‘keeper Ben McGinley.

What became something of a pattern for the game saw Leith reduced to trying their luck from range despite good build up play, but nothing troubled Bob Hall in the Rovers goal. Just before the break, Forrest was on hand again with a timely challenge to snuff out another Leith attack down the right side.

Leith started the second half as they had the first but it was Rovers with the first effort on goal when Jon Davidson picked up a clearance and from fully 40 yards tried his luck with McGinley off his line but the effort was just too high.

Leith probably had their best spell following this warning and doubled their lead after 54 minutes with Garvey again giving Hall no chance with a tidy finish following a quick interchange of passes on the left side of the box. Rovers were on the back foot for the next 10 minutes as the home side tried to extend their advantage but the defence held firm.

A controversial moment followed after 65 minutes when a long clearance deceived McGinlay and he handled the ball outside his area. Without the intervention, the ball looked to be headed for the goal but the referee only produced a yellow card and Grant Wilson’s subsequent free kick was deflected wide.

However, the setback seemed to galvanise Rovers and a tweak in formation which saw Alan McMath push forward changed the course of the game.

With just 7 minutes remaining, Gregor Lamb cut inside from the left wing and his pass to brother Ross on the right side saw him completely deceive his marker with a sharp turn and his cross from the by-line was bundled over the line by Wilson.

Rovers had their tails up now and pressed hard for the equaliser but it was Leith who nearly put the match out of sight with a flashing header from a corner but the effort sailed past the far post.

As the clock ticked on to 90 minutes, McMath showed his worth again as he powered a shot goalwards from the edge of the box. The effort deflected off substitute Cammy Sclater leaving McGinlay with no chance and earned Rovers a very creditable away draw.

Peebles Rovers; Hall, MacKenzie, Gettel, McMath, Forrest, Davidson, Dodds, G Lamb, Wilson, R Lamb, Lindsay. Subs; Sclater, Zavaroni, Summers

Rovers pay the penalty in final half hour

Peebles Rovers 0 Penicuik Athletic 5

David Knox

at Whitestone Park

THERE was a sense of déjà vu on Saturday as Penicuik yet again ran away in the second half at Whitestone Park for a comfortable win.

When the teams met at the start of the season in the league they were locked at two-all going into the second half only for the Midlothian side to net a further four times.

The third round of the South Challenge Cup turned out to be almost a rerun.

Despite the upheaval of four of their squad following former manager Johnny Harvey down to Berwick, new boss Kevin Milne must have been impressed with his new charges as they laid siege on the Peebles goal from the off.

Only some excellent saves from stand-in keeper Bob Hall as well as a few timely tackles and goal-line clearances kept Rovers in the game.

But Colin Smith’s team, who were also missing three suspended players after the previous game’s infamous brawl, worked their way back into the tie.

And it took a block in front of goal by Gary Hamilton to deny Gregor Lamb after keeper Thomas Codrey was beaten.

David Lindsay’s in-swinging corner also had to be punched clear by the visiting keeper from under his bar.

And Lee Zavaroni should have done better when bursting into the area, only to try and beat another defender rather than shooting.

But these were only brief interludes from the pressure that continued for most of the half on the Peebles goal.

Alan McMath and Jon Davidson both made goal-line clearances, Hall tipped several efforts either round the post or over the bar, and several other shots were deflected within inches of the target.

Rovers, though, did hold on to the interval.

And for quarter of an hour at the start of the second half they continued to frustrate the Conference A favourites.

But a controversial decision in the 59th minute changed the complexion of the game.

Some lovely build up play led to Kyle Sampson running onto a reverse pass only to collide with Davidson – and a penalty was awarded.

Sam Jones tucked away the spot kick.

Jones doubled the advantage six minutes later with a neat finish from an excellent Aaron Somerville knock down.

Peebles had a strong shout for their own penalty in the 70th minute as keeper Codrey hauled down Rob Sterricks.

The protests had hardly abated by the time Callum Connolly poked home a third at the other end.

And to rub salt into the wounds substitute Arran Ponton rattled home a further brace in the closing stages.

Rovers boss Colin Smith said: “They were on top for a lot of the match but we were creating and the penalty decisions had a big influence on how it went in the end.

“I didn’t think theirs was a penalty and even their manager said ours definitely was.

“You need things to go your way against quality teams like Penicuik and they didn’t today.”

Peebles Rovers. B Hall, C Mackenzie, B Gettel, A McMath, R Forrest, J Davidson, G Lamb (C Sclater 67), R Lamb (J McKay 58), G Wilson, L Zavaroni & D Lindsay (R Sterricks 46).

Heads Held High as Rovers fall to High-flying Newtongrange

Newtongrange Star 2 Peebles Rovers 0

Two weeks of inactivity and several players missing wasn’t the ideal preparation for Rovers’ trip to high flying Newtongrange Star at the weekend. Star are one of three unbeaten teams in Conference A, so this would have been a tough ask at the best of times. On the day, the whole team worked tirelessly against quality opposition with Tom Kerr, Alan McMath and Ben Brown in particular standing out and combining to keep a team which had averaged four goals a game at bay. In the end, Rovers succumbed to a 2-0 defeat, losing a goal in each half although the second was hotly disputed for offside.

Newtongrange flexed their muscles early on and Kerr had to be alert to turn a header onto the bar from an unmarked George Hunter. He proved to be a thorn in the side of the Rovers defence for much of the afternoon with his speed and movement. Rovers had their chances in the early exchanges though, a dangerous David Lindsay free-kick landing in the danger zone but ultimately finding no takers.

Rovers had their most promising spell around the 20 minute mark with no fewer than three great moves down the left side with Lindsay, Grant Wilson and Lee Zavaroni heavily involved but on each occasion they couldn’t quite finish the moves off.

Hunter for Newtongrange then started to shine as he found space again in the 6 yard box but couldn’t quite steer his shot on target then had a 25 yard effort fly just over the bar. Peebles responded and Ben Gettel tried his luck from similar range from a James Dodds lay off but the effort sailed wide of the target.

Newtongrange finally took the lead after 36 minutes when Stevie Thomson skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box before firing an unstoppable shot high into the net. As half-time approached, the home side pressed hard to double their lead but first Brown steered a dangerous shot over the bar then Kerr was on hand to produce a fine stop to keep the deficit to one at the break.

The start to the second half was fairly tame and it took to just over the hour mark for the first real chance as Hunter showed his menace again but Kerr was once again equal to the danger. However, the lead was doubled shortly after as Hunter pounced on a flick on in the box to finish from close range despite looking suspiciously offside.

Substitute Robert Sterricks almost made a quick impression when he latched onto a Lindsay free kick but couldn’t quite make a firm enough connection and the ball squirmed over the bar. Newtongrange finished the match strongly but a great block from Brown and another fine save from Kerr prevented Star from stretching their lead.

Depleted Rovers Defiant in Defeat

Hill of Beath Hawthorn 4 Peebles Rovers 0

Rovers’ winning run came to an end at the weekend but Colin Smith’s side still put in a battling performance against one the league’s big-hitters. With the squad depleted by a mixture of injury, suspension and holidays, an already though away fixture was made even harder. Ben Brown’s absence at the back meant Gregor Lamb had to be deployed as a centre back for the first time but he shone throughout in his unfamiliar surroundings as the whole team worked tirelessly to keep The Haws at bay.

As early as the third minutes, Hill of Beath showed their menace but a lob over the advancing Tom Kerr narrowly missed the far post. With Rovers’ resources already stretched, Jon Davidson was added to the injury list as he pulled up with a hamstring injury inside ten minutes and was replaced by Jamie MacKay which meant another reshuffle on the park.

It wasn’t all one way in the early stages though and Ross Lamb was unlucky to see his rifled 25 yard shot just miss the left hand post. This spurred the home side on though and after a period of pressure, they took the lead in the 25th minute as Lewis elder pounced on a rebound after Kerr had saved the initial shot. Nine minutes later, the lead was doubled when Callum Adamson was left unmarked at the back post to easily convert Greig Smith’s cross. Just before half time, another Rovers injury saw Mikey McEwan limp off.

Hill of Beath came out on the front foot at the start of the second half and after a fine save from Kerr low to his left, the resulting corner saw Lee Reid convert with a close range header. David Lindsay tried his luck from range in a rare Rovers attack but the keeper saved comfortably. The game was put totally out of reach just before the hour mark as Peebles lost possession in the middle of the park and Smith took full advantage to power home the goal of the match.

Shortly after, Cammy Sclater saw a straight red card for what was deemed serious foul play, a decision which baffled both sets of players and supporters and it was a backs to the wall effort from here on in. Kerr and Alan McMath combined to keep out the most dangerous looking of the Haws’ attacks then there was another bizarre red card when Ross Lamb was judged to have crossed the banter line by the referee.

As disappointing as it was to see the winning run come to an end, the effort from the players in the face of adversity pleased manger Smith and his backroom team ahead of another stiff test against Penicuik Athletic this weekend

Photographs courtesy of Kevin Marshall at Kayem Photography

High five for Rovers

Peebles Rovers 5 Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts 1

Rovers continued their rich vein of form as they breezed past Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts to reach the third round of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup. Cammy Sclater scored his first goal for the club and this was followed by doubles from Grant Wilson and David Lindsay as the home side ran out comfortable 5-1 winners.

As early as the third minute, Rovers showed their intentions as Lindsay played in Sclater but he choose to pass rather than go for goal and the opportunity passed. The same two players combined shortly after but this time Sclater’s header just cleared the bar. Gregor Lamb was next to try his luck but his dipping 25-yard effort just missed the top corner.

Swifts had their moments early on but although some of their build up play looked dangerous, there was no breaking through Rovers’ back four with Ben Brown cutting out the most dangerous of those forays with a timely sliding clearance.

Peebles pressure paid off after 13 minutes when once again Lindsay found Sclater and his first time finish left the ‘keeper helpless.

Any hope Swifts had of getting any kind of foothold in the match disappeared when they were reduced to 10 men after just 25 minutes for a second bookable offence.

Gregor Lamb had a headed effort cleared off the line then on the half hour mark robbed a Swifts defender and played in Wilson but he couldn’t quite connect with the low cross. Wilson made no mistake a few minutes later though as he charged down an attempted clearance from the ‘keeper and rolled the ball into the net to double Rovers’ lead.

The lead was halved inside a minute though as a rare Swifts corner caused havoc in the 6 yard box and Andy Griffin squeezed the ball in for the visitors.

Rovers regained their advantage less than five minutes later when Lindsay again provided the ammunition for Wilson to finish from close range.

The second half continued as the first had ended with Rovers on the front foot and a break from the back by Alan McMath saw him thread the ball to Lindsay who placed his shot into the far corner.

Just before the hour mark, a speculative long-range effort from Swifts bounced off the top of the bar but this was as close as they got to reducing the deficit. McMath was unlucky to see his downward header from a corner well saved after which a bit of a lull set in with Rovers on easy street. There was still time for a fifth though as Ross Lamb won the ball wide on the left before playing in Lindsay who produced a tidy finish to round off another morale boosting victory.

Photographs courtesy of Stephen Mathison of Off The Back Photographers