Rovers dump The Dees out the Cup at Dens
Raith Rovers are through to the William Hill Scottish Cup Fifth Round after a 1-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon.
Rovers made two changes from the eleven that started last weekend’s league win at home against Queen of the South, with Laurie Ellis replacing the injured Paul Watson and Gordon Smith coming back into the starting team, with Greig Spence again dropping to the bench.
Before kick-off, both teams along with a sizeable crowd observed a one minute silence for the victims of last night’s helicopter crash in Glasgow. Weather-wise, it was a little cold and the floodlights were already on a good ten minutes before the game had even started.
When the game did get underway, it was the visiting Rovers who broke the deadlock on 6 minutes with the first real chance of the game. Jason Thomson went on one of his trademark marauding runs down the right wing, before cutting into the centre of the penalty area. Dundee’s Gary Irvine put in a strong enough challenge, but could only divert a trickler of an effort past his own goalkeeper, Kyle Letheren, to give Rovers the lead.
The first half never really got going, so much so that it took Dundee until the 25th minute to even fashion a decent chance of their own. The youngster Craig Wighton, who scored his first senior goal against The Rovers in the league meeting at Dens earlier in the month, fired a shot from the left side of the box. Ross Laidlaw made a great diving save to turn the ball away.
The home side created another half-chance two minutes later. After Dougie Hill had been somewhat harshly booked for a foul when he clearly won the ball, Nicky Riley had a go firing the free kick from about 25 yards out. Laidlaw collected the ball comfortably and Rovers remained a goal to the good and, unlike the previous league meeting, still with 11 men on the park.
Dundee continued to go in search of an equaliser that ultimately wouldn’t come, creating further chances through Peter McDonald on 30, 31 and again on 37 minutes – the latter a dangerous shot from 25 yards which was again confidently palmed away by Ross Laidlaw in the Rovers’ goal before Ryan Conroy was flagged for offside on the rebound.
A wild Rovers effort a minute before the interval summed up what was a poor first half, but thankfully it was Raith who had the edge at the break courtesy of the comical own-goal by Gary Irvine.
At half-time, several Dundee legends were introduced to the sparse home crowd. Two of those, Jocky Scott and Gordon Wallace, also have past Rovers connections. Gordon Wallace received a mixed reception from the Rovers support, while Jocky was given a reception frosty enough to match the falling temperature on Tayside.
Dundee brought on Martin Boyle at the break in place of young Craig Wighton, the youngster had struggled to recapture the form that had seen him find the net the last time the two sides had met.
The early exchanges in the second half were much like the first 45 minutes, with both team swapping half-chances at best.
In the 56thminute, Grant Anderson was wiped out in front of the South Enclosure (known by Dundee fans as ‘The Derry’) by the elbow of Dundee’s Ryan Conroy. No card was shown to Conroy, much to the annoyance of the Rovers support. The resultant free kick from Joe Cardle eventually fell to Laurie Ellis, but his half-hit shot was easy pickings for Kyle Letheren in the Dundee goal.
Two minutes later, Dundee had perhaps their best chance of the game so far. Peter MacDonald went on a driving run before ripping off a rasping effort from around 25 yards, only to again be denied by another stunning save as Ross Laidlaw acrobatically turned the ball onto the top of his own crossbar.
Rovers had another half-chance on the hour, when the ever-impressive Grant Anderson won possession close to the corner from a Dundee goal kick. Grant whipped the ball into Gordon Smith, before Gordon turned and drove his shot high over the bar.
Greig Spence replaced Gordon Smith with quarter of the game to go. Moments later, Rovers put a three sustained minutes of pressure in and around the Dundee penalty box, forcing a series of corners which would in the end come up empty. As with the last time the two sides met in the Scottish Cup, at the last 8 stage in 2010, Dundee were taking the game to Rovers in search of the equaliser but Rovers were reminding their hosts that they were still in the game.
With 14 minutes remaining, former Rovers fan favourite Iain Davidson was booked for a cynical foul on Grant Anderson around the halfway line. Davo was perhaps a little lucky to only get a yellow card. He was subsequently on the receiving end of some less than flattering verbals from the away support for the remainder of the game.
Rovers created one final chance on 80 minutes, with Calum Elliot picking an inside pass from Joe Cardle. Callum drilled the ball at Kyle Letheren, who brilliantly turned the ball onto the outside of his right hand post. Grant Anderson came off with an injury late on and was replaced by Kevin McCann.
From then on it was backs to the wall for Rovers as they played out the final 10 minutes of normal time and four minutes of stoppage time, but Rovers held on much to the relief of a fantastic and vocal travelling support. Raith Rovers had knocked Dundee out of the Scottish Cup at Dens again.
The green shoots of recovery are definitely there after a sticky spell for Rovers in the past few games, but a marked improvement is needed (particularly in front of goal) if Rovers are to take anything from an always-tough trip to The Falkirk Stadium on league duty next Saturday.
Pictures: Eddie Doig