Extra Man Pays For Visitors
Both sides went into the game having played three times all square with a win, a draw and a loss each, Dundee’s win coming against ten men. The Rovers are still missing several starters, Cardle returned joining Donaldson who’ll not have expected to be straight in the line up after returning from loan. Grant Anderson made it to a depleted bench of only five. Grieg Spence was able to do some work during the warm-up but clearly has a bit to go before he can be kitted for a game. Dundee however had the full seven men on the bench including ex-Rover Willie Dyer and Kevin McBride was in from the start for the visitors who were without Iain Davidson.
The game started with neither side getting the upper hand or creating chances of note – perhaps this being the fourth or at least five or perhaps seven meetings had an impact. Dundee had corner in the fourth minute, Thomson stopped Boyle setting up an optimistic overhead effort in the 12th minute. Callachan’s cross field ball was just cleared by Gallagher with Elliot in close attendance.
In the 17th minute there was a chance, McDonald flicked on a free kick and Boyle headed goal ward from six yards. Laidlaw did well to push the net bound effort wide. In the 19th minute McDonald tried to get on a ball at the edge of the box and went down, the referee was having none of it and play continued. The ex-Ton man was not however penalised, no doubt to his relief. In the 25th minute Conroy ran onto a good ball and Laidlaw did well again saving his low shot from 22 yards. The visitors were perhaps a little on top when McBride squealed at the top of his voice for a hand ball in the box that clearly wasn’t.
On the half hour good Raith play almost played in Moon as Conroy had been. In the 31st minute Benedictus was booked for a foul on Thomson as he ran at the heart of the visitors. From the resulting free kick Smith’s header flashed just wide. Cardle beat Gallagher to a bouncing ball and the big defender will have been pleased to see the supporting Elliot’s shot blocked by keeper Letheren and then cleared. It was the Rovers turn to enjoy a good spell and Cardle was taken out by Irvine who was rightly spoken too when play eventually stopped. The half ended in stalemate after Booth cut out a dangerous cross well and Moon put a shot well wide.
Both sides at the half will have thought the win was there for the taking and none of the 4000+ crowd will have headed home early. Hill
stretched to cut out a dangerous ball after a misplaced pass then a Raith corner went back in from a throw and Elliot danced into the box crossing low to Moon who shot over. Following a Dee free kick the ball rolled harmlessly to Laidlaw testing the depth perception of the home fans at the other end. Jason Thomson was booked for fouling Boyle and McDonald stayed on his feet heading wide from the free kick.
Callachan saw his hard shot deflected over by a diving defender for another Raith corner. Cardle’s delivery was very poor but a scuffed clearance up in the air meant Letheren came for the ball – he landed heavily on Donaldson but clearly took a head knock. He was replaced by Gibson between the sticks and though conscious was stretchered away.
Elliot was blocked by Gallagher as he tried to run at goal. In the 66th minute pinball broke out about 30 yards from the Raith goal as a number of players of both sides failed to control the ball. A clearance pinged off a player and back past everyone into the path of the pacey Boyle. Jason Thomson was nearest to him and tried to tackle taking him down. The referee had no option but to send the home man off for his second bookable offence however the ball could have gone anywhere in the melee.
Ellis came off the bench with Smith being sacrificed as the Rovers re-organised. In only the 70th minute the need for breaks to go your way in football were exposed again when Elliot played in Callachan and his good cross was half knocked away by Dee man only for it to slide past the beaten keeper and the post, the corner was not given. Despite being a man down the Rovers pushed on, Elliot was fouled three times in less than two and a half minutes. First Gallagher then the already booked Benedictus and finally Irvine went in hard on the Rovers man. Surprisingly only Irvine was booked but the striker was struggling from then on after his three heavy knocks. In the 79th minute after a Dee shot was blocked away for a throw the ball went back in the box a clearance was scuffed and a shot half saved then somehow the ball broke the Rovers way and a poised Dee man failed to hit the net. The corner saw a header across harmlessly go past.
The League leaders failed to take advantage of a couple of cheaply conceded corners sandwiching Fox requiring treatment. Liam had played a few games earlier this season with a calf problem and another player struggling like Elliot was the last thing the Rovers needed. Elliot made a good run testing the Dee defence, who didn’t try to foul him yet again, but he was crowded out. Callachan was replaced by Anderson as an ambulance went up Pratt Street no doubt carrying the stricken keeper. In the 89th minute a punt down the middle saw Laidlaw come for it. The big youngster made some contact with it under pressure and the ball landed at the feet of McAllister who took the opportunity to shoot goal ward. Despite a lunge from a defender the ball ended up in the net. The half cleared ball could just have easily have bounced harmlessly away or to a Raith man.
Elliot – who was still limping – was fouled again by the already spoken to then booked Irvine as he moved forward. The resulting free kick was knocked past for a Raith corner. Gibson did well to just beat a Rover to the in swinging ball and despite Cardle being nearby Wighton got away and played in McAllister who raced un-marked forward. Laidlaw stayed on his feet and forced him wide but the Dee man managed to seal the result for the 11 men in the 92nd minute.
In the final minute there was another golden opportunity to score but for the Rovers. Anderson’s excellent cross was met by Elliot at the near post and his perfect header was finger tipped onto the post by Gibson. As time ran out big Gallagher fouled Elliot again, the visitors’ 11th free kick conceded of the second half to the Rovers three. The central defender was booked either for persistent fouling, the foul itself or kicking the ball away as it could have been any of the three.
Having created better chances with ten men the Rovers again were left wondering how things would have ended up eleven versus eleven. The break of the ball certainly didn’t favour them. The Rovers will hope the few extra days before the next match will let those already injured recover further and give those who picked up a knock – or in Elliot’s case knocks – time to recover for the next match. Hopefully there will be no long term problems for Letheran, no one likes to see players stretchered off.
Report: John Mainland, Pictures: Tony Fimister
Photographs © Tony Fimister
David Hancock spoke to Manager Grant Murray after a disappointing 90 minutes