By Neil Hobson
In a powerful whirlwind of noise and colour, Rovers clashed with a Celtic XI for the fourth time in the two clubs’ history. Goals from Brian Coffey and Max Potter secured the win for Celtic on a night where Rovers pushed them all the way in front of a massive crowd at Whitestone Park.
Barely four minutes had registered on the clock before Brian Coffey latched onto a through ball and danced past the Rovers defence, coolly slotted the ball past McGinley to hand the Rovers an uphill battle in the opening stages of the match
Alan McMath hovered around the box, looking to latch onto any long balls that could penetrate the towering Celtic defence of Potter and Jack McDowell.
A foul on Saul Schulz-Keith opened the window of opportunity for Ross Lamb to smash a terrific free kick at Ryan Mullen, with the ball smashing the wall before Lamb’s strike from the rebound vanished into space.
Ross Lamb looked a forceful presence, possessing a degree of creativity and guile that allowed him to unlock vulnerabilities in the Celtic defence.
A nice lay-off from Saul Schulz-Keith saw Lamb steam down the right, carving through the Celtic defence to sting the palms of Ryan Mullen.
Bruno Gavin galloped forward from midfield before showing some nifty footwork to evade the Rovers defence as he crashed into the box, with Jason Newell rushing out to boot the ball to safety.
Josh Jack kept up the Celtic attack as he hovered on the edge of the box, pausing, before blasting a booming shot over the crossbar.
The game gradually calmed after a tumultuous forty-five minutes, with McGinley and Mullen both left sitting as the battle raged in midfield.
The huge Whitestone crowd was on its feet and howling in excitement after a sweet volley from Saul Schulz-Keith on the right-hand edge of the box, which was just too high, saw Ryan Mullen scramble on 32 minutes. Kieran Campbell rampaged down the left with a killer ball across the face of goal not quite finding the boot of Bruno Gavin, with Colin Smith moving to hammer the ball into space and safety.
Celtic emerged for the second-half as a somewhat wary team. Rovers had proved they were going to be no pushover, with Rossi leading the way in the hunt for an equaliser.
Lee Zavaroni was at his usual, marauding best; bombing forward as he pulled around and toyed the Celtic defence before drifting out wide left. The resulting cross fell to Alan McMath in the box, who moved to scoop up the ball before a Campbell clearance saw it booted to the safety of the sky.
By now, Rovers were hitting their stride- and a bumper Whitestone support were rewarded for their faith as they equalised in tremendous fashion.
Time seemed to slow down as Ross Lamb stepped up to take the free-kick, with a McGrath foul on McMath just outside the box creating an opportunity. Lamb, coolness personified, stepped up before smashing the ball with Homeric force.
The ball seemed to slow down, before flying past Ryan Mullen in the Celtic goal on 62 minutes- sparking frenzied scenes in the Alec Lucas Stand.
By now, Rovers had the young Celts on the canvas, and Robbie Renwick kept up the attacking onslaught as he charged down the right before whipping in a short ball across the face of goal that Newell very nearly prodded past Mullen.
For a time, it looked as though Rovers could see the game out. But, a niggly foul conceded on the edge of the box allowed a Coffey free-kick to be stabbed home from a yard by Max Potter on 80 minutes.
It was the final notable action on a terrific night for Peebles, Peebles Rovers, and the people in the community who came together to make a night that will live long in the memory.
Peebles: McGinley, Dodds, Brown, Smith, Newell, Rossi, G. Lamb, R. Lamb, Schulz-Keith, McMath, Zavaroni
Subs: Lindsay, Mackay, B. Runciman, J. Runciman, Fleming, Forrest, Renwick, Cockburn