Dominant Dundee Eliminate Raith
Raith Rovers were bundled out of the League Cup at the second stage last night, after going down to an impressive-looking Dundee side at Dens Park, by four goals to nil.
Manager Grant Murray made two changes from the side that lost by the same scoreline to Hearts at the weekend. Kevin Moon made his first start of the season at the expense of Liam Fox, while Lewis Vaughan replaced Grant Anderson. Vaughan was tasked with playing behind Christian Nadé, while Mark Stewart filled the role on the right-hand side, vacated by Anderson.
Dundee made six changes from their first Premiership win against St. Mirren on Saturday, and the quality of the replacements on show, illustrated the strength in-depth of Paul Hartley’s side. Scott Bain made his debut in goals, while fellow debutanté Phillip Roberts started on the left. The other four called up were Iain Davidson, Martin Boyle, Peter MacDonald and Greg Stewart, in what was a very attack-minded looking 4-4-2.
Just how forward thinking the Dundee side were was illustrated in the opening minute, when Martin Boyle was presented with a shooting opportunity in the penalty box. His effort was deflected over, but from the resulting corner-kick, Greg Stewart was offered far too much space to power home a header from 10 yards. It was a deflating start for a team looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat just three days previously.
The poor start continued, and Raith almost found themselves 2-0 down, when a poor touch from Moon, allowed Peter MacDonald to control the ball on the edge of the box, but with time to shoot, his finish was lacklustre and straight at Cuthbert.
The home side’s pace on either wings was already giving Raith problems, with Roberts especially looking for the ball at every opportunity and testing Jason Thomson. Raith managed to weather the early storm however, and eventually managed to get their foot on the ball and enjoy some possession.
After ten minutes, they forced Bain into his first action of note, when he had to be alert to tip away Ryan Conroy’s dipping free-kick from twenty-two yards.
A few moments later Dundee had a rather more unusual person to thank, after good work from Nadé and Thomson, teed up Kevin Moon, but his effort from inside the box smacked off Thomson and was eventually cleared.
At this stage, Rovers were enjoying the better of the proceedings, but were only creating half-chances from their promising moves. Conroy and Scott combined to good effect in the middle of the park, and the latter slipped a pass to Stewart, but from the edge of the penalty area, his shot was dragged into the side netting.
The differences between the two teams incisiveness was evident after twenty minutes, when Thomson slipped while advancing on the Dundee penalty area, and within seconds, the play was down the other end, and Greg Stewart should have done better than send an effort crashing over.
Rovers then had Cuthbert to thank, when he kept himself big to deny MacDonald, after the forward was slipped through cleverly by McAllister.
The away side were gifted their best chance of the half, when possession was squandered to Nadé forty-yards from goal. Accelerating away from two challenges, he had Mark Stewart in support and space, but he chose to go alone, and his shot from the edge of the box was of the powderpuff variety.
With Dundee’s pace and strength, you got the impression that Rovers could be punished for failing to take advantage of the chances they were creating, and so it was in the forty-third minute.
Paul McGinn picked up the ball down Raith’s left-hand side, and after cutting infield, he curled a wonderful finish past Cuthbert and into the corner of the rigging from twenty-five yards.
For Raith to force themselves back into the game in the second-half, they were going to have to score the next goal, but they were almost three down in the fifty-first minute.
Roberts pace again took him past Thomson, and the Raith captain’s late tackle deservedly saw his name taken. From the subsequent set-piece, Stewart’s shot was saved by Cuthbert, but then turned in by Martin Boyle. The celebratory roars of the Dundee fans, soon gave way to jeers, when they realised the effort had been disallowed, fortuitously from a Raith point-of-view.
Grant Murray was forced to make his first change ten minutes into the half, after Nadé limped off to be replaced by Grant Anderson. The substitute ventured to the right, with Mark Stewart moving up front. Anderson would soon swap wings with Conroy, but the momentum of the game was now all in Dundee’s favour, and would continue in that vein for the rest of the match.
Martin Boyle had become a bigger threat in the second period, and was starting to give McKeown as difficult a time as Thomson was experiencing on the opposite side. The right-winger turned provider for the third goal just before the hour mark, racing clear of the defence and setting up MacDonald, who nudged it past Cuthbert from close range.
The game appeared lost for Raith at this stage, but they still fashioned the next chance, Anderson finding space and firing a low cross to Stewart, whose side-foot effort was deflected past.
The away side’s ventures up field were becoming rarer and rarer however, and Dundee were playing with a confidence and swagger that a three nil lead can bring. While Rovers had struggled manfully in the first period, they were all too often being exposed in the second, and the fourth goal arrived with twenty minutes remaining.
Substitute Gary Harkins and MacDonald combined to release Stewart inside the box, and although his shot was blocked, Boyle pounced from six yards to extend the lead.
Despite Dundee’s polished performance, they were still capable of tardiness at the back, and James McPake’s wayward pass across goal, allowed Mark Stewart to round Bain, but his shot into the empty net, was cleared off the line by an excellent sliding clearance from Davidson.
It was a brief moment of respite in a half where Dundee had been both dominant, and ruthless. With two heavy defeats in the space of a few days, Rovers will have to lift their performance, as they head into the second Fife derby of the season at Central Park this Saturday.
Copyright Eddie Doig