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Derek Hall’s report on the Peebles Rovers v West Calder on Wednesday 25th August

todayAugust 27, 2021


Peebles Rovers 1-3 West Calder United

A 2nd Round King Cup tie played on a gorgeous summer evening in Peebles saw the local Rovers hosting their West Lothian opponents with both teams weakened significantly due to Covid and injury issues, indeed the home side were only able to name a starting eleven. A minute in and Rovers captain Ross Lamb almost found Luke MacLean with a pass through the middle but United keeper Callum Williamson was quickly out to gather the ball. With two minutes on the clock, Luke Cormack moved strongly towards the edge of the visitors box but his progress was unceremoniously halted by United centre half David Taylor whose handful of shirt brought the inevitable yellow card from referee Danny Graves, although Lamb’s effort from the accompanying free kick sailed disappointingly over. Two minutes later, James Miller sent a decent cross into the Rovers box looking for Brennan Foy but home keeper Cameron Hanratty was there first. On seven minutes, Cammy Smith took down Miller out wide but Gary Shanks delivery could only find the hands of keeper Hanratty once again. The lively Miller and Scott Hay then worked a nice one two near the edge of the Rovers penalty area, but Hanratty was out quickly once again to dive on the ball. Shanks then fed Miller again but this time his shot was blocked as United looked to be building up some momentum and after eleven minutes the pressure paid off when a nice through ball saw Hay moving down the inside left channel and as keeper Hanratty raced from his line, the striker lifted the ball beautifully over the keeper from around 25 yards with the outside of his right boot and the ball was in the net on the first bounce. Two minutes later Shanks looked for Hay once more and again Hanratty was out to smother the ball. On fifteen minutes, the lead was almost doubled as the ball dropped to Shanks at the back post and from a very tight angle, he clipped the ball up and over keeper Hanratty, only for Jamie Mackay to appear on the goal line and somehow hook the ball clear to prevent a certain goal. However United weren’t to be denied much longer and on 19 minutes, the second goal arrived when a nice passing move on the right edge of the Rovers penalty area involving Shanks and Taylor saw the ball laid back to Ryan Stevenson, and his deep cross towards the back post had Miller arriving eight yards out to head home via the post with Peebles looking for an offside whistle which never came. At this stage, it was pretty much one way traffic but the game was about to change after another United attack on 21 minutes which saw a superb James Dodds tackle on Miller concede a corner and Shanks’ cross had keeper Hanratty grabbing the ball right on his goal line. The keeper quickly hammered the ball long and as the ball bounced, hesitant United defending allowed Luke MacLean into the visitors box and he turned before cooly slotting the ball past keeper Williamson from around ten yards to get the home side on the board. With 26 minutes gone, a poor goal kick from Hanratty saw Hay play a quick pass to Shanks but his drive from 25 yards saw the Peebles keeper right behind it. After 31 minutes, Lindsay of Peebles got down the right and his cross into the United box looked dangerous but Taylor calmly helped the ball back to his keeper. However it was anything but calm in the United penalty area two minutes later when keeper Williamson mis-controlled a standard back pass and had to turn and hack the ball away from almost on his own line to prevent a gift equalising goal. Peebles were now looking a bit livelier but a slack pass in midfield from Kieran Weighand saw Shanks intercept and as he tried to move forward, he was caught by a late challenge from Lamb just outside the centre circle and the Peebles captain was straight into referee Graves book. At the break, United still held what was a deserved lead after being well on top for the first half hour, but the home side had taken heart once they got on the score sheet, and this cup tie remained nicely balanced.
Three minutes into the second period, Lamb of Peebles went down injured in front of the stand and with no available substitutes for the home side, there was real relief when their skipper was able to continue. After 51 minutes, Graham Baird was again looking to find the influential Miller with a through ball but it just ran long before, at the other end, a free kick to the back post saw scorer MacLean loop a header into keeper Williamson’s hands. However ten minutes into the second period, United restored their two goal advantage as Gary Fallon played a lovely diagonal 35 yard pass to pick out Miller on the left flank and his pace beat the offside trap and the covering defenders, allowing him to race into the box before having the composure to guide the ball under keeper Hanratty from 15 yards for his second of the evening. After 58 minutes, the ball was laid across to Lee Gillespie but from 25 yards, the United no2 pulled his low right foot drive well wide. Peebles moved to the other end and Lamb played in Aidan Reid but his cross went right across the United six yard box with nobody able to apply the finish. Three minutes later, a cross to the back post saw Weighand out jump everyone to get his header in but United keeper Williamson got down to make the save. Rovers were having a wee spell now and Lindsay again found Reid on the left and his pull back into the penalty area saw Cormack closed down before he could get onto the ball. West Calder seemed to think some fresh legs were required and with 20 minutes remaining, Foy was replaced by Dane Johnston. Two minutes later, United’s Stevenson went down with an injury but he was also able to continue after treatment. After 74 minutes, United’s Leon Chiwara and Gary Tickle of Rovers received a stern ticking off from referee Graves for becoming involved nose to nose in midfield before Reid and Smith worked the one two which got the former to the goal line but Taylor shepherded the ball behind for a United goal kick. Rovers’ Mackay hit the deck near the touchline after being accidentally caught in the face by a flailing hand, but when referee Graves rightly stopped the game to allow treatment, Shanks reaction to the stoppage saw the United no7 earn himself a needless caution for his comments. A minute later, Miller sent Johnston to the goal line and Lindsay did brilliantly to get the ball behind for a United corner whilst sliding in facing his own goal. Hay fired another long range effort wide of Rovers goal with 10 minutes left and at this point Peebles saw an injury to Reid reduce them to ten men after the no3 indicated he couldn’t continue. Four minutes from time, Hay was fouled in midfield but referee Graves played the advantage which allowed Shanks to pick out Miller and his low drive from the edge of the box brought out a good save from keeper Hanratty. Just seconds later, the West Calder MOTM Miller went looking for his hat trick again spotting Hanratty off his line and his powerful dipping lob was turned behind by the diving keeper with a strong left hand. Two minutes from time, Taylor laid the ball back to Hay who stepped inside his man but he leant back on the shot and his 22 yarder didn’t trouble the keeper. A minute from time, Chiwara fouled Lindsay in midfield and having been warned previously, it was no surprise to see referee Danny Graves reach for his pocket once more for the United no14. On the final whistle, it was the West Lothian side who make progress into the next round of the King Cup, with an excellent performance from James Miller being a highlight of their evening. Peebles showed they have plenty of appetite for the challenges ahead and will obviously be in better shape to meet them when they get their squad back up to full strength.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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