By Neil Hobson
Peebles Rovers secured a fantastic win today, as we overcame a stubborn Stirling Uni side 3-2 at Whitestone Park
The opening exchanges had barley occurred before Rovers stabbed home the first goal of the match, after Alan McMath scooped up a Colin Smith cross and blasted the ball home from close-range to catapult Peebles into an early lead.
Robbie Renwick gleefully supplemented these early exchanges as he tested Arron Gunn with some delightful footwork, tormenting his marker before dispatching a cross that narrowly sailed out of play.
A furious scramble in the box was up next as the Rovers bombardment continued. Rossi poked the ball out of a churning goalmouth into the feet of Renwick, with the former Livingston man squaring up against John Allan between the sticks with a side-footed effort.
Michael Barber tested Cameron Hanratty with a lethal free-kick on 22 minutes, seemingly destined for the top-right corner. However, the 16-year-old looked like a ‘keeper with 20 years of experience under his belt as he produced a stunning save to palm the ball to safety.
Hearts were in mouths soon however, as Malcolm Burgess went close to bagging an equaliser on 34 minutes; his attempted shot from short range grazing the post by an inch.
Burgess’s persistence was soon to pay off, throwing himself into the box as the goalmouth became overloaded with activity. David Beaton hit a sweet cross, and, after a brief game of pinball, Burgess was on hand to prod the ball past Hanratty.
Rovers were a shadow of the team that erupted out of the traps in those early exchanges, with Stirling hitting a quick double as the game quickly went south.
Angus Dey galloped forward from midfield, skipping past the defence before unleashing a cool strike from 10-yards out that sneaked past Hanratty into the bottom-left corner.
Following that quick-fire double, Rovers fell apart defensively- as shape collapsed as we descended into panic.
Fortunately, such discombobulation wasn’t to last- with Alan McMath transforming into a furious figure of frenzied speed, tearing the Uni defence apart as he danced past his marker.
Taking a moment to compose himself, McMath, on the right-hand edge of the box, hit a ball that could only be described as ‘heavenly’.
It was a strike that, had it been an Olympic event, would have scored ten across the board. The goal was a minor masterpiece as his effort zoomed into the top-right corner, handing the Rovers a lifeline going into halftime.
Beaton was up next to try and bag an equaliser, hitting a hard shot that vanished over the top of the crossbar.
As the second-half took off, Rovers took a more cautious approach to the match- occasionally defending with five across the back as Rossi’s men stepped up their game
Stirling once again moved to regain control of the match, with only the heroics of James Dodds and Hanratty enough to keep the students at bay.
Momentum soon shifted after David Lindsay rampaged up the park, battering his opponents out the way before laying off a great ball to Rossi.
The manager rolled the ball into McMath, who very nearly completed his hat-trick there and then.
The former Leithen Rovers man hit a booming header, which Allan raced to scoop up- leaving it late to take the ball into his gloves.
The Rovers screamed for the goal, arguing that it crossed over the line- with the referee giving nothing but a firm shake of his head.
McMath was destined to get that hattrick however, exploding into life like a shot of lightening: dancing away before tucking home the ball with glorious finesse- sending the Ally Lucas Stand into scenes of utter madness.
Ross Lamb was also handed his marching orders, seeing red for alleged ‘dissent’- despite Lamb doing little else than question a decision from the referee.
Peebles: Hanratty, Dodds, Smith, R. Lamb, Rossi, Renwick (G. Lamb, 57”), Forrest, McMath, Mackay, Brown (Trialist, 45”), Lindsay
Subs: Cockburn, Zavaroni, G. Lamb, McEwan
Man of the Match: Alan McMath