ALWAYS the bridesmaid, never the bridesmaid – a saying that fits Peebles Rovers’ current predicament quite nicely.
In a close match at Riccarton, ten-men Rovers missed out on a huge opportunity to stake a real claim on a top-six spot against Heriot, their closest rivals in the league.
The game began brightly for Rovers, Gregor Lamb smacking the woodwork after just a minute of play – Rovers springing into life with great intensity.
Peebles had most of the ball and territory in those opening 15 minutes, with forwards Schulz-Keith and Robbie Renwick looking menacing every time they got on the ball.
The Students gradually grew back into the game, midfielder Ryan Higgins intercepting a loose pass before unleashing a tidy passing move.
The ball found its way to the fleet feet of Anton Dowds, who rolled the ball into the path of Mark McGovern who turned to make a shot – with Ben McGinley on hand to make the catch.
Such pressure soon gave way for the first goal of the match, as Watt took the lead on 21 minutes through Anton Dowds: who powered home a thunderous header on the back of a pin-point ball from Chris Lane.
Saul Schulz-Keith had two good efforts in quick succession, the first just missing Callum Reid’s right-hand post and the second, from a right-wing cutback, being held by Reid.
Panic briefly struck Watt when Gregor Lamb nipped in to send a shot across goal after some casual defending from Adam Woolven.
Five minutes from the interval, Rovers were down to ten men when Dowds pulled back Ross Lamb and the Peebles man responded by kicking out in anger – prompting a straight red from the Ref Mark Rennie.
The second half began in dramatic fashion. Within a minute of the re-start, Alan McMath, drove into the area and was challenged by two Watt defenders and collapsed inside the box, with the referee awarding a spot-kick.
Gregor Lamb’s penalty was well-struck, but Reid became his side’s hero, diving to his right to get his hand to the ball.
Schulz-Keith burst onto the scene for the rebound and opened fire, but Reid had pushed the ball so far wide that the angle was against the Peebles man and the ball went into the side netting.
Jackson Barker climbed off the bench in the closing stages and immediately made an impact; hitting a good pass to Dowds who galloped down the left wing.
Dowds twisted and turned as he tested his marker, and, when he had created space for a shot, drilled the ball past McGinley to make it 2-0.
Many thought Peebles were dead and buried, but as the clock ticked away, substitute Lee Zavaroni came to the rescue with a sublime goal: cutting in off the right to send a tremendous left-peg howitzer into the top corner.
However, it was too late to mount a revival, and Watt held on to secure the three points.
Peebles: B McGinley, J Mackay, B Brown, C Smith, R Fleming, R Lamb, G Lamb, R Renwick, J Smith, A McMath, S Schulz-Keith
Subs: Dodds, Lindsay, McEwan, Zavaroni