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  • kennyholt




A bright, but blustery day was the setting for Rovers, as they headed over the bridge to Fife for a game against a Burntisland team that had only suffered one defeat in the league. Manager Michael Wilson handed debuts to Haddington loan signings Mark Shiels and Brandon Blair.

It didn’t take long for the game to come to life when Shippy captain Ben Anthony got onto the end of a long ball on the left. The pacy forward cut inside to unleash a shot that Rovers keeper Cameron Hanratty did well to get down to his right to push away.

In the first half, Rovers were playing into the strong wind, however both teams took time to adapt. After an even opening period, it was Rovers that struck first. On 16 mins, some quick thinking by Mark Shiels played the ball to Ross Lamb on the edge of the box. The midfielder switched to his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner. After two similarly spectacular goals in midweek in a friendly against Edinburgh United, Lamb continued his fine form to open the Rovers account for the afternoon.

Burntisland 0 v 1 Rovers

On 17 mins, the hosts could have gone down to 10 men when centre half Sandy Strang handled on the edge of the box to stop Brandon Blair being through on goal. A yellow card was produced by referee William McAleese which was probably the right decision. The resulting free kick by Lamb took a deflection resulting in a routine save by home keeper Costello.

On 26; Shippy skipper Anthony did well to stay onside from a long ball and charge in from the left. His powerful shot from 12 yards was well saved by Hanratty, with the follow-up from Shaun Keatings being blocked by Rovers captain, Liam Andrew.

The wind was a constant factor in the first half, a goal kick from Hanratty fell short to Keatings on the right who found himself free and it was only some last ditch defending by Matty Kinross that prevented strike partner Scott Orrock from having an open goal. Another chance gone for the home side.

With 10 minutes to go in the half, a great long ball from Rovers full back Callum Mitchell, found Luke MacLean on the defenders last shoulder to put him through. Keeper Costello was smartly off his line to deny the striker, and Mark Shiels could only watch as his follow-up was headed away by defender Mark James.

HT Burntisland 0 v 1 Rovers

Rovers were forced into a change on 51 minutes when James Dodds replaced Kinross, who was experiencing breathing difficulties following a recent bout of Covid. An example of one of the challenges these times are bringing teams across the leagues.

On 52, Rovers extended their lead. A lofted pass by Andrew found Robbie Walker who headed neatly on to Brandon Blair. The forward took the ball to the goal line and picked out Luke MacLean who cut back to the unmarked Mark Shiels. The midfielder controlled the ball from 10 yards out and coolly wrong-footed Costello.

Burntisland 0 v 2 Rovers

In the 65th minute, Burntisland should have pulled one back. A ball by Keatings picked out Ben Anthony 10 yards out, the striker could have picked his spot, but he shot straight at a very grateful Hanratty in the Rovers goal.

On 72, Rovers almost extended their lead when Brandon Blair found himself through on goal. He was thwarted however, when Costello got off his line quicky in order to charge down the forward’s attempted lob.

Three minutes later, Rovers made it three. Some sloppy defending by Shippy gifted Luke MacLean a run through on goal. After rounding the keeper, the Rovers top scorer played a selfless reverse to Shiels who stroked it past the keeper for a debut brace; MacLean’s tireless work rate earning him a second assist, as the Burntisland players and bench looked on in disbelief.

Burntisland 0 v 3 Rovers

You got the feeling that the hosts would have chances in the closing period, and this was to be the case. Ben Anthony shot just over, before they pulled one back on 78. Centre half Sandy Strang wasn’t picked up from a Clancy corner and he did well to place his header past Hanratty.

Burntisland 1 v 3 Rovers

It was only some heroics from Cameron Hanratty that denied the home side another with 9 minutes left. Darrell Anthony made a surging run from midfield and unleashed a wicked shot from 30 yards that was sailing into the top right-hand corner. From out of nowhere, Hanratty got his left hand to it and tipped it past the post. A fine save to cap a sterling performance from the young keeper.

With a minute to go, a cross by McPhail threatened the Rovers back line, but it was dealt with well by Dodds. The experienced defender reading the threat well to thwart the home side.

Another gift wrapped it up for Rovers three minutes into injury time. A back pass by James was well enough placed but the keeper inexplicably attempted a Cruyff turn in his own six-yard box, and he was dispossessed by Davie Lindsay who gratefully tapped it into the net, claiming his fifth of the season.

FT Burntisland 1 v 4 Rovers

All in all, a very satisfying day for Rovers, who after a tough start have been unbeaten in the league for the last three games. They’ll look to extend this in the next game in the Borders derby against Hawick Royal Albert United.

Rovers: Hanratty, Tickle (Skinner 85), Mitchell, Andrew, Kinross (Dodds 53), Lindsay, Lamb (Smith 91), Shiels, MacLean, Walker, Blair (Cormack 85).

Burntisland: Costello, Miller, Clancy, James, Strang, Galloway (McManus 65), Keatings (McPhail 73), D Anthony, B Anthony, Orrock, Wilson.

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