East, west, home’s best for Rovers as city side are drowned out

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Peebles Rovers 1

Lothian Thistle HV 1

EoS QUALIFYING LEAGUES GROUP D

MAURICE GORDON reports from Whitestone Park

With the Saughton Enclosure pitch flooded, this game was switched to Peebles.

And the home advantage earned Rovers a battling draw.

Lothian had the better of the opening exchanges, with good efforts coming from Craig Stevenson, Craig Stewart and Joe Murray, while Kevin Swain comfortably saved a long-range effort from Ray Fleming.

The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock six minutes before half-time when, following a Kenny Fisher corner-kick, Omar Ali sent over a right-wing cross which picked out Murray, who headed the ball just over.

Lothian made a bright start to the second half when, from a Kevin Lee corner-kick, a Gary Georgeson shot was deflected just wide of the goal.

Peebles began to come more into the game, however, and a Paul Hunter through-ball sent Scott Watson racing into the Lothian box.

But just when it seemed he had the Lothian goal completely at his mercy, he lost control of the ball at the vital moment.

Thistle opened the scoring after 65 minutes from a hotly-disputed penalty-kick. Andrew Williamson came sliding in from the side to take the ball off Murray’s toes with what seemed like a perfectly-timed tackle just inside the box. But, when Murray went tumbling to the ground, the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

After the dust had settled, Connan McDiarmid gave the diving Kevan Massie no chance by slamming the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Peebles were back on level terms 10 minutes later. And once again it came from a penalty which could be filed under the soft category.

There seemed to be little in it when Lothian substitute Richie Wilkes challenged Craig Edgar just inside the Lothian box. But when Edgar bit the dust it was Peebles’ turn to have a chance at goal. Craig Edgar kept his cool before blasting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net despite the diving Swain getting a hand to it.

Lothian came close to grabbing a winner one minute into injury-time from a Kenny Fisher corner-kick. Massie instinctively saved from Lothian substitute Lloyd Dignan with his legs before the same player blasted the ball just over the bar from the rebound.

All in all an entertaining encounter with the Rovers deserving something for all of their efforts, but this game will be remembered for those two penalties.

Peebles Rovers: K. Massie, P. Hunter, S. Galloway, J. Girdwood, A. Williamson, R. Fleming, L. Montgomery (C. Leslie), S. Watson (G. Knox), C. Edgar, N. Cairns, A. Chalmers.