Rovers Feeble in Falkirk
The Rovers lost 2:1 at Falkirk today in the spring sunshine. Some one goal wins/losses are narrow, this was not. The Rovers were never really in this match, somehow the hosts managed not to take advantage of the number of chances they created and should have had the points wrapped up by half time.
The Rovers saw two changes from the eleven that started the midweek win over Queen of the South. Hill returned for the suspended Donaldson and Moon dropped out replaced by Callachan. After the fans took their seats in time to see the home ground staff watering the plastic pitch the game began.
In the second minute a free kick into the Raith box was flicked on by McCracken past the dangerous Loy. It took the Rovers nearly ten minutes to create anything when Smith got space in his wide right position and crossed to Elliot who knocked it back for Baird, however the ball had crossed the line on the way over. Robinson claimed a free kick at the second attempt and then Vaulks took advantage of a slip from Booth to get in the box. Six yard box pinball ensued with a shot blocked by the Rovers, then Robinson made a save, a Bairn at the back post’s shot was blocked and the ball was somehow cleared by the defence.
Falkirk were beginning to control possession and Chalmers got wide but his low cross was easy to defend. McCracken was the first booked for taking out Baird on the break. Two minutes later in the 18th minute Chalmers tried again and his ball in found the big front man Beck who touched it back to Rory Loy who easily buried the ball in the bottom corner. Before the Rovers could respond Robinson threw the ball out to Cardle who dallied, Falkirk pushed on and after the initial effort was blocked Connor McGrandles deftly lobbed the ball over the congested goalmouth into the far corner for 2:0. Both goals had been scored with relative ease.
Cardle who had been struggling since an early foul on him was replaced in the 24thminute by Grant Anderson.
Smith switched to the left hand side. In the 26th minute Rovers managed to get a ball into the home box for the first time. On the half hour the Rovers got the ball into the danger zone again after Anderson did well wide and his cross was teed up by Elliot for Baird. Form man John Baird volleyed low past a despairing defender and the pace took it under the home keeper for 2:1.
Falkirk threatened next when Robinson was quick to get the ball before Loy at the end of good home play. The industrious Anderson pushed on again and Smith couldn’t control his ball across the box then Elliot headed a corner into the side netting. As the half ran down Millar who was unchallenged or pressured throughout played yet another good pass wide to Vaulks who’s low cross past the exposed Robinson somehow eluded Beck at full stretch in front of the open goal. Considering that the big loanee is 6 foot 5 it was quite an achievement not getting something on the ball for a simple third goal.
At the half the Raith support were marvelling that their side were only a goal behind. However a creditable second by Roary Rover in a mascot race raised spirits a little.
Loy shot at Robinson early then Millar fired in a free kick that the Raith keeper did well to push wide. Anderson got into the home box at the second attempt but it came to nothing. Hill was booked then a rare period of good Raith play saw two home men combining to block Callachan’s shot from 24 yards.
Millar shot over then Fox was booked and Millar’s effort from the resulting free kick went just wide with Robinson struggling. A Falkirk corner flashed across goal then another long throw into the visitors box caused concern. The Rovers won a corner and three Raith headers ended with McGovern taking the ball easily. Sibbald got space wide and his cracking ball in to Loy was put wide by the prolific front man. It looked easier for him to score…
Falkirk were still getting time and space on the ball giving them ample opportunity to chose the right option. Sadly when the Rovers were in possession the home side were not so keen to make things easy insisting in closing down the men in red. In the 70th minute Beck headed onto the roof of the Raith net from a corner. In a rare foray Anderson had a long run towards the Raith support but the final ball was overhit.
Smith – who’d been unable to make any impact wide left – was replaced by Vaughan. Yet another period of decent play by the hosts ended with only a corner. Millar ran at the home defence and eluded a number of challenges before running out of ideas and going down in the box, he was penalised for a dive but not booked. Again the home side threatened always looking more likely to add to their advantage – Loy’s cross was blocked back to him and his shot went into the side netting to the Rovers relief.
A rare Rovers corner was far too easy for the Bairns keeper to claim under no pressure. Elliot had a go from 18 yards and it was blocked then Baird was replaced by Spence. In a rare moment of panic a ball spun off a Falkirk defender and across the box just in front of Spence. Robinson did well knocking the ball away from Beck who was poised again to knock the ball home. The last opportunity fell for Spence who’s header did not test McGovern. Any Raith equaliser would have been hilarious for the visitors but very, very unfair on the home side.
If any of the Falkirk side travelled on to Fife for the Links Market they would not have won the prize bingo nor would their accuracy have been enough to win soft toys at the shooting stalls. Thankfully for the Rovers they went home on the end of only a 2:1 defeat after some of their play lacked the substance of candyfloss. This could have been a heavy defeat but thankfully it wasn’t…
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig
Copyright Eddie Doig