Season Ends at Livingston
The Rovers signed off an up and down season with a loss at Livingston. Lining up without Thomson, Elliott and Moon in came Mullen, Spence and Callachan. The bench was packed with youngsters and player coach Ellis. Livingston has been a side fleet of foot for a few seasons now and John McGlynn has been trying to improve their consistency after some up and down results.
Your reporter realised that he had no pens for his last match report but disaster was averted – thanks Elaine! It was overcast and certainly no advert for summer football. The Rovers fans who pitched up in Hawaiian clobber of lurid shirts and hula skirts were no doubt feeling the cold.
Home man Danny Mullen got wide early on and his cross shot to no-one from the side line was optimistic to say the least. Callachan played a good cross field ball, anticipating Anderson’s angled run, but the home keeper got to it just in time. A decent home pass wide to McNulty saw him seem to be closed down at the by-line. However he got the ball across and Danny Mullen, coming in unchallenged, was able to pick his spot in the bottom corner for an early home lead. The Rovers had bodies back but were unable to prevent the ex-works side going one up.
Callachan was just beaten to the ball by the home keeper then Baird and Booth combined well but the move came to nothing. Referee David Somers – in his last match – had little option in the 19th minute when Sives took down Spence. The linesman was waving his flag furiously and Somers flashed the red card as last man Sives trudged off without complaint.
One behind, facing ten men, the Rovers fancied their chances of getting back into the game. However, the home side’s style is all about getting the ball forward quickly so they are perhaps the league’s side best suited to playing with ten men. This was illustrated when McNulty, alone at the edge of the box, managed to get a shot past Hill and Watson but not Robinson. Callachan was booked then, from the free kick, a simple header from the always-involved Martin Scott found Danny Mullen alone in the box and he shot wide. Grant Anderson was trying to make things happen wide right and a cross was played back to him but his low stinging angled drive was held by Jamieson, the home keeper.
Anderson stepping in, nicking the ball in the Raith half, and his run was ended by Kyle Jacobs who was booked. On the half hour, the home side re-organised, sending on Mevlja for Praprotnik. The busy Baird passed to Anderson who played in Cardle. Joe found Spence but his effort from 18 yards went wide. There were flurries of Raith play as they began to find a bit more space but the end result didn’t quite come off. Booth sent another good ball towards Anderson but a despairing stretch from a home man just got it away.
In the last five minutes of the first half, Callachan flashed a shot across goal from 20 yards then Cardle stepped inside and put a low shot past Jamieson, which came back off the foot of the post invitingly into the middle of the box. A Livvy man got there first and cleared the danger. It was an unusually slow shot but almost tied up the game. From the corner, Baird’s front post run and audacious jumping flick of the boot put the ball into the side netting as the home side looked on. Pushing on, Fox played in Anderson who found Spence whose low cross had no takers.
At the half, the Rovers support – though chilly – hoped the one man advantage would mean a better outcome to the second half than the first. The Rovers first threat came from the rarely used option of a Grant Anderson long throw. A good move from Robinson to Fraser Mullen to Baird to Spence back to Baird then to Cardle saw Booth run on and shoot over. This play encouraged all of a Rovers persuasion. In the 54th minute, Anderson eluded a foul from Talbot and scampered off after the ball in space. The referee, however, blew rather than let the clear advantage develop. The home player was booked.
In the 56th minute, Cardle took on one too many and lost the ball. Breaking quickly, the home side saw a viciously struck shot come back off Robinson’s body and fall to the following-up Scott who somehow shot wide. It was a golden opportunity for the ten men. Around the hour, Callachan was replaced by Vaughan. A Rovers’ corner went deep and Spence couldn’t reach the knock down to get an accurate shot in. At the other end, McNulty got away from two Rovers defenders and Robinson dashed out missing the ball. The crowd held their breath as McNulty’s shot from wide went into the side netting and not the empty net.
Jamieson saved a Baird effort after Spence played him in and was, at best, ponderous as he slowly restarted play. Cardle went down late, having played a pass with one of the Jacobs by him, and Joe had to be treated for a face knock. Just past the midway point, another long throw saw a defender knock the ball towards his own goal but no Rovers were in a position to pounce. Vaughan had provided some pep with his forward runs and Fox was annoyed to see his effort go over against his old side.
McNulty was well defended then Cardle was booked for pointing out the Rovers should have been awarded a throw. Martin Scott had a dipping effort from just inside the Rovers half go wide as the home side continued to look to get a second. In the 79th minute, the hosts sealed the points. Martin Scott played a great ball to Mark McNulty at pace who fired a low angled shot into the net from about 14 yards.
Vaughan played in Anderson who squared the ball but no red shirts were there to take advantage. Fraser Mullen was booked and Talbot’s over-reaction to the foul saw him dragged away before his name was taken a second time. The Rovers managed to take their corner count to eight then nine before Vaughan skied an effort. Paul Watson was pushed up front but nothing of note happened as the last few minutes ticked by.
The final whistle marked the end of the 2013/2014 season for Raith Rovers. This has been a season of unusually high highs but too many lows. More points have been unluckily dropped than won fortuitously. However, there are relatively few Saturdays that will have to be filled with shopping, gardening and the dreaded DIY before it all starts again next season. Many wives, girlfriends and partners will soon be looking forward to getting peace and quiet on a Saturday afternoon again soon…
© Eddie Doig