Raith Progress Against Poor Pars
The Rovers arrived at East End Park looking to complete a four day Fife double at their League One hosts. Starting unchanged from Saturday Raith faced a Dunfermline side bolstered by on loan Scully in goal and Moore up front. Many had commented that this fixture did not stir the emotions as much as previous derbies – this certainly was the case for me – but a crowd of 3,765 ignored the heavy rain.
The Pars having conceded early in Saturday’s home defeat to Arbroath will have hoped to start better. They didn’t. A panicked clearance handed the Rovers a cheap corner and Dougie Hill headed Cardle’s delivery down into the net after just 1 minute 40 seconds. A couple of minutes later the home defence again looked poor when Morris played a free kick to centre back colleague Kerr who wasn’t paying attention and the more alert Spence nearly capitalised.
The home side saw a free kick blocked by Hill then Ryan Thomson felled Fox after the Raith man had won a header. Being charitable the home man badly miss-timed the challenge and initially things didn’t look good with players from both sides signalling for assistance. The stretcher came on but Fox hobbled off and was tended to for a couple of minutes on the sideline before returning.
In the 10th minute Wallace crossed harmlessly wide then in the 15th Ryan Thomson shot over from 15 yards. The Rovers looked more dangerous moments later when the home keeper was relieved to claim the ball that had got caught in Hill’s feet on the six yard line. There was some close attention being paid particularly to Spence and headers were being keenly contested so it was a surprise when Jason Thomson was the first man booked having been tripped by Falkingham – the referee adjudged him to have dived.
Callum Elliot was continuing his good start to his Rovers career and a sublime flick wrong footed the home defence as Fox nipped into the box unmarked. Liam’s low shot went into the side netting. Partick man Scully in goal had to be very quick to claim Cardle’s dangerous ball following a corner as Spence was poised to add to his goal tally. The home side forced a save from McGurn in the 28thminute when Byrne ran unopposed and his shot was pushed wide for a corner. From the home corner the Rovers threatened again Cardle made ground wide and his vicious cross was just missed Anderson’s far post diving header attempt. Another let off for the home side.
Raith Captain Thomson carefully covered a run into the box in the 33rd. In the 35th good Rovers play again featuring Elliot, Spence and the hardworking Moon was scrambled away from the six yard box and Cardle’s follow up shot was blocked wide for a corner. Spence shot past as the Rovers had a good end to the half. Anderson was causing problems wide and Thomson in space saw his effort miss then in the 44th minute some pinball at the edge of the home box eventually fell to a Pars boot. The last action of the half was a rare home attempt when Whittle fired high and not too hansom from 24 yards.
At the half the Rovers took off on form Spence bringing in Gordon Smith. Dunfermline tried to lift things bringing on Husband for Ferguson. The Rovers had the first opportunity when Cardle’s free kick was blocked by the wall and Scully was able to take his second attempt low. There was no flurry from the underdogs and the best they managed early on was an over hit angled free kick from Wallace. Elliot again carved the home defence open in the 53rd minute playing in Cardle who took a touch and lifted the ball over the exposed keeper but saw it sail over the bar. It was a great chance and Rovers star Joe will be disappointed by his finish.
In the 63rd minute Cardle was played in and danced into the box where he was felled by a challenge from Geggan. Fox took the ball and placed it on the spot in Spence’s absence. Driving the ball to Scully’s right the keeper guessed correctly but the power of the shot saw it go into the roof of the net. Two nil to the Rovers thanks to Liam Fox.
Fox shot over then Husband fired a shot into the 3rd row of the stand six yards wide. McGurn cut out a cross at the front post then Elliot and Smith threatened and Scully claimed another Raith corner at the second attempt. In the 78th minute a ball into the six yard box was half blocked by Watson and bounced up into McGurn’s arms. The home team tried to muster a late push but their final ball was often mediocre and the Rovers defence handled their efforts well. Whittle played a bad back pass well short of Scully and was rightly booked for what could only be described as a comedic obstruction of Elliot. Ex-Rover Dargo who’d been on since the 71st minute headed a cross straight up in the air in the 89th minute. The game ended just after Cardle was caught late and Whittle failed to capitalise lamely volleying wide.
The Rovers progress into Thursday’s draw for the next round knowing that the new regime at East End will be prompt in providing their share of the gate money. Dunfermline must try and get their heads up for their important trip to Stenhousemuir and then face Falkirk at home in the League Cup hoping to avoid a hat-trick of home defeats. These are changed days for our Fife neighbours facing the harsh realities of modern football however I’m sure none of them would swap this for the alternative that they had more than ten million reasons to fear.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig