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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

Brown and McMath shine as Rovers make it 3 in a row

Peebles Rovers 3 Arniston Rangers 0

Peebles Rovers continued their recent run of form with an emphatic win at home to Arniston Rangers. Only a month ago, Rovers found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in Gorebridge and in truth they should really have more than reversed the result on Saturday.

The home side started on the front foot although it took almost quarter of an hour to really trouble the Arniston goal when a David Lindsay free kick was turned round the near post by the ‘keeper. From the resultant corner, Gregor Lamb’s effort was cleared off the line and as he followed up he was bundled over for what looked like a certain penalty. The referee took a different view however and Lamb was bizarrely yellow carded for diving.

Five minutes later, a well-placed Grant Wilson free kick was heading for the bottom corner but was deflected over the bar by Lindsay from close range. In a rare attack, Arniston went straight up the other end and almost punished Rovers but the back post header from a fine cross was misplaced. Just before the half-hour mark, Lindsay had another effort well saved after a lovely through ball from James Dodds. As half time approached, Lamb skipped through a couple of challenges on the edge of the area but his shot went narrowly past the post.

Rovers were straight back on the attack in the second half and had another penalty claim waived aside as Lamb was once again upended in the area. The pressure finally paid off on 59 minutes though after Wilson found Mikey McEwan in space and his cross broke to Lindsay who made no mistake from close range.

For ten minutes after the goal, Rovers seemed to get a little nervy but there was little threat from Arniston and it came as no surprise when the home side doubled their lead. Ben Brown, who along with Alan McMath was rock solid in defence all day, broke forward and played in Wilson who drove into the box and his cut back was turned into his own net by a desperate defender.

Cameron Sclater could have extended the lead with just over ten minutes to play but the ‘keeper was quick off his line to turn the shot away. There was a final throw of the dice from Arniston as they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area but the effort was parried away to safety by Tom Kerr. On 88 minutes, Rovers completed the scoring when Wilson again turned provider and Lindsay doubled his tally with a cool finish.