Peebles Rovers travelled to high flying Leith Athletic hoping to make it three wins on the trot. After the mud-bath of last weekend, the expansive artificial surface was much more suited to playing football and it took Rovers only two minutes to show their intentions as Gregor Lamb picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box but his effort flew narrowly over the bar.
It wasn’t long before the early promise paid off though, and it was that man Alan McMath again as he latched onto a long clearance from stand in ‘keeper Cameron Henratty to lob the ball over Leith ‘keeper Campbell McLellan. It was no more than Rovers deserved and they continued to put pressure on the Leith defence as captain Lee Zavaroni picked up a short free-kick on the edge of box but his sharp turn and shot was turned round the post by McLellan.
Leith tried to stem the red tide and they broke quickly down the right wing but the volley from the resultant cross went straight into the arms of the impressive Henratty. Another Leith attack was thwarted by the Rovers defence with Colin Smith in outstanding form. The breakaway saw Zavaroni speed down the wing and his cross found Ross Lamb who laid it back to his younger brother but his lobbed effort from just outside the box was tipped over the bar by McLellan. Another spell of persistent Rovers pressure ended with a McMath effort sailing narrowly over.
After this blistering start, Leith began to find their feet and found themselves level in the 27th minute as Daniel Garvey capitalised on a loose ball to squeeze the equalizer over the line off the far post. The home side were in the ascendency now and Rovers were lucky to escape when a 25 yard effort smacked off the post and was cleared to safety. A last gasp defensive header from James Dodds then halted another Leith foray and just on half-time, a lapse on concentration from a quick free kick nearly gifted them the lead but Henratty was quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
The second half was the opposite of the first as Rovers were caught cold, allowing Leith to take the lead in 50 minutes. Sonny Swanson picked up the ball out wide on the left before cutting inside and firing an unstoppable effort high past Henratty. It was blow for Rovers but they worked their way back into the game with Dodds finding McMath with a neat through ball. McLellan forced him wide only for Zavaroni to pick up the loose ball but his powerful effort from a tight angle was well saved.
The game then became a midfield battle with neither side troubling the opposing ‘keeper but if anything Rovers were creating the better chances. Then with 70 minutes on the clock, a moment of madness from Leith’s Lewis Smith saw him red carded for lashing out at Ross Lamb. Peebles pressed hard for an equaliser from here on in, a snap shot from McMath was again tipped over the bar and from the resultant corner he didn’t quite connect with his header and it missed the far post. A bizarre spinning cross-come-shot from Zavaroni was the last action of the match but McLellan managed to claw the effort away from under the bar.
It was a valiant effort from the young Rovers team and a measure of how far they have progressed as they left the field disappointed with a narrow 2-1 defeat to one of the league’s top sides.