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David Lindsay scoring from the penalty spot


Rovers welcomed league leaders Lochore Welfare to Whitestone Park, looking to stretch their unbeaten league run to five games.

Rovers started with a makeshift back four with only one recognised centre half in Jamie McKay available. Captain Liam Andrew, absent through the injury that curtailed his appearance against Hawick made way for MacKay, and Matty Kinross (working) was replaced in the middle of defence by right back Gary Tickle. Last week’s double scorer Grant Doyle filled in for Tickle at full back, with Harry McGill stepping in for him, and Rovers welcomed back Callum Mitchell after Covid isolation. Top scorer Davie Lindsay made his return alongside Ross Lamb in the Rovers midfield and Luke MacLean started in the striker berth having missed last week. New signing from Vale of Leithen Kyle Kivlichan was named as one of the substitutes.

The first action of the game on seven minutes saw Lochore’s Jamie Leslie get onto the end of a long clearance and set up Ewan Sutherland. He was well covered by Grant Doyle and his shot went straight into the arms of Hanratty. Provider turned striker a few minutes later as a loose ball was snapped up by Leslie and his shot, again from the outside of the box, went harmlessly past Hanratty’s right hand post.

Rovers had to wait till the 13th minute to have their first effort on goal. A Mitchell throw, 10 yards from the Lochore goal line found Luke MacLean in the box. By way of a great turn, his left foot driven cross just evaded the oncoming Rovers forwards for a simple tap in.

In the 18th minute, some great footwork from MacLean took him away from three defenders. Spotting the run forward from Brandon Blair he threaded a great pass through, but Lochore keeper Dale Wotherspoon was smartly out to cover.

Rovers had a golden chance on 22. A great press by Harry McGill won the ball 30 yards out, he looked up and picked out Mark Shiels who showed great awareness to cut back a full 25 yards to the onrushing Davie Lindsay. The midfielder placed a shot which beat Wotherspoon to his right, but it went agonisingly to the wrong side of the post.

A fantastic move on 25, saw Rovers go close again. Some neat interplay between a number of Rovers midfielders set up Mark Shiels, his shot from the edge of the box was covered by Wotherspoon as he saw it past the post.

A minute later, a real wonder save from Hanratty kept the score level. A long ball by Wotherspoon was played into the path of Leslie, but a good read by Gary Tickle saw him come across to clear. Just as he did, he stumbled, which left Leslie ample time to cut in and set himself up for a thunderous shot to Hanratty’s near post. The Rovers keeper got down low to his right, and a strong hand tipped it up onto the bar. Great goalkeeping.

The resulting corner was played short which caught Rovers napping, an initial clearance found it’s way to Leslie, he played in Robbie Crawford whose shot from close range looked goal bound till Gary Tickle threw himself in its path and blocked it out for a corner. Another short corner was well worked as Sutherland cut in to fire a left footed effort, which was again well saved by Hanratty.

On 35, the visitors had their best chance. A Sutherland free kick found Crawford had slipped his marker just a few yards out. He opted to place his header when just getting it on target would have sufficed, and it came off the foot of Hanratty’s left hand post. A squandered chance and a let off for the home side.

On 37, Lochore again went close. Some neat play between Peter Thomson and Leslie allowed some time for the latter to pick out striker Celantano. His run in on goal was thwarted by Hanratty who came out to take it off his foot with the loose ball being picked up by Crawford who could only play it into the grateful arms of the Rovers keeper.

Rovers best chance of the half came as the result of a corner. A driven cross by Mark Shiels was headed out by Kearyn Hicks. The ball fell to the feet of Ross Lamb who played a great threaded ball to the corner taker, who cut inside and unleashed a wicked left footed shot that Wotherspoon did well to tip over the bar.

HT Rovers 0 v 0 Lochore

The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors. Midfielder Crawford did well to get to the goal line and deliver a cross which was well headed clear by Gary Tickle. The ball was picked up 25 yards out by Scott Small however, and his left footed half volley had the beating of Cammy Hanratty low to his left, but he was saved by the base of his post with Callum Mitchell gratefully clearing for a corner.

Rovers were presented with a chance on 56 minutes, when Kearyn Hicks handled just outside the box. Ross Lamb stepped up to take the free kick and his shot could only be parried by keeper Wotherspoon.

The vistors squandered a golden opportunity on the hour mark. A long ball forward found Jamie Leslie in space who controlled and played the ball to Crawford on the right who immediately passed back to Leslie who had moved into space around 15 yards out. With the goal beckoning the forward completely missed the ball with Lindsay gratefully clearing for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Crawford was played short, and he set off on a run where his cross come shot from the corner of the box found striker Celantano on the 6 yard line. Frustration could be heard from the away support as his first time shot went wide.

On 75, some heroic defending by Robbie Walker kept the score level. A cross into the box by Crawford found Celantano who was about to pull the trigger until Walker threw himself full length to clear. Great defending, and an illustration of the will to take something from the game.

Two minutes later, Jamie Leslie dispossessed a Rovers midfielder who released substitute Joe Kirby whose left footed shot was well saved by Hanratty. Two minutes later he was played in again, with the same result – a smart save by the Rovers keeper.

With 7 to go, Celentano made way for Sean Cusick, and the substitute could have scored with his first kick of the ball as his looping header from a Leslie cross could only find the top of the bar.

It was a period of intense pressure by the visitors, with a few minutes left Jamie Leslie flashed a shot just over that rattled the frame of the goal.

In the closing few minutes, Rovers created some chances of their own, Robbie Walker was providing good service into the box and forcing Lochore to defend. In the 89th minute he was again provider, when he spotted substitute Kyle Kivlichan making a run into the box. Just before the debutant could get his header away, he was clearly pushed from behind by Welfare captain Scott Small; Brandon Blair pounced on the loose ball to finish but referee Greig Haynes had already blown for a penalty.

Davie Lindsay stepped up to sweep the penalty past Wotherspoon and give Rovers the lead with his 6th of the season and keep up his 100% success rate from the spot.

Before the restart, Jamie Leslie was given a straight red card, presumably for something he said to referee Haynes. This capped a frustrating afternoon for the Fifers.

FT Rovers 1 v 0 Lochore

Man of the MatchSponsored by Brown Brothers Renault and Dacia

In all honesty, this could have gone a number of ways, but the statistics will prove that the seven saves made by Cameron Hanratty in the Rovers goal, was one of the main reasons Rovers kept the three points in the Borders. A commanding performance from the young keeper with a wonder save thrown in for good measure.

Rovers: Hanratty, Doyle, Mitchell, Tickle, Mackay (Walker 46), Lamb, Lindsay, Shiels (Kivlichan 70), McGill, Blair, MacLean. Unused sub: Smith

Lochore: Wotherspoon, Murray, Small, Hicks, Anderson, Thomson, Donaldson, Sutherland, Celantano, Leslie (Sent off 90), Crawford.

Referee: Greig Haynes

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