McGurn the hero as Raith steal points from Bairns
The recent results of these two teams couldn’t have been much different prior to this match. Falkirk were on a high with a run of 5 consecutive wins, with Rovers having lost 3 in a row.
The game kicked off at 5.30, due to the game being live on TV, at a freezing cold Falkirk Stadium. However, before kick off there was an impeccably observed minutes silence to pay respect to the victims of the recent bin lorry tragedy in Glasgow.
Raith’s new director of football, took his place alongside the rest of the Rovers board in the main stand to watch his first match in his new role at the club.
The Rovers made one change from the starting line up that lost to Hibs last weekend with Christian Nade dropping to the bench to be replaced by Calum Elliot
The opening exhanges of the game were fairly pedestrian and it wasn’t until the 13th minute that the first real attacking move of the game. Falkirk were awarded a free kick after Loy was bundled off the ball. The free kick rebounded off the wall and Loy took a shot which was again deflected – with Falkirk claiming a handball. Minutes after, Martin Scott was booked for a foul on Taiwo, then Falkirk’s Duffie was booked for a foul on Scott.
In the 18th minute, Conroy claimed possession of the ball 35 yards out and had an ambitious shot just past MacDonald’s right hand post in the Falkirk goal. Three minutes later, Elliot fired well over after a Rovers corner. The first quarter of the game was scrappy with Rovers perhaps just having the edge.
However that was all about to change as Falkirk upped their game and started to dominate the match. In the 23rd minute Craig Sibbald fired just over the bar for Falkirk, then 2 minutes later McGurn saved well from a Blair Alston shot, then McGurn again saved well as he plucked the ball out of the air from Grant’s looping header. Falkirk then took advantage of McKeown dithering in defence whilst in his own box, as Loy gained possession and shot goalwards only to be parried by McGurn who then amazingly saved the return shot from Alston. Cooper then struck in a low cross which was just missed by Loy and Sibbald. The Falkirk pressure didn’t end there as more poor defending from Raith allowed Loy a shot but was well saved by McGurn. Rovers needed some respite after a ten minute bashing from Falkirk and have to thank Davie McGurn for the scores remaining level.
Rovers did then create a couple of half chances with Scott shooting straight at the Falkirk keeper after some neat build up play, then Scott chipped the ball into the box for Stewart but he was held off by Cooper.
There was concern for both teams in the 35th minute as Thomson and Duffie clash heads but both players were up sharply and play continued.
Both teams traded half chances with a free kick from Bia Bi going close, Loy hit the side netting with chances for Rovers coming from Elliot & Mckay. Just as the first half looked like it was petering out, Rovers created one more chance with a 20 yard shot from Callachan that took a deflection of Grant and hit the post. The closest chance of the game was followed promptly by the half time whistle.
HALF TIME: Falkirk 0 Raith Rovers 0
No changes were made as the teams came out for the second half. Falkirk started the second half in determined fashion. Cooper had an early break and shot that was blocked by the Rovers defence before Taiwo was booked for a foul on Scott. More Falkirk neat play led to an Alston shot that went just wide, Alston shot just wide again then Grant was through in goal only for McGurn to gather the ball at his feet. Loy then had a great run and shot which just went past McGurn’s post.
Falkirk made the first substitution of the game in 58 minutes with Shephard replacing Bia Bi. The first fifteen minutes of the second half were dominated by Falkirk.
Rovers came back into the game and in 64 minutes McKay’s bye line cross was just headed wide by Conroy, then 2 minutes later Thomson got to the bye line and drove in an excellent cross that was deflected by Leahy into his own side netting.
Sibbald then troubled McGurn again with a free kick that was saved by the Raith keeper. Thomson was then booked for a nudge on Rory Loy.
Rovers then created another chance, McKeown’s throw in was picked up by Calum Elliot in space but the Rovers striker fired it into the crowd. McGurn was then called into action again as he tipped a Falkirk shot over the bar.
Rovers then produced the move of the game, Elliot won the ball on the half way line and ran forcefully and directly to the corner of the 18 yard box and played an inch perfect pass to Conroy who just shot wide into the side netting.
In the 77th minute Falkirk brought on ex Rovers loanee David Smith to replace Cooper. Moments later, Alston again shot wide.
Then came the moment of the game as Rovers took a shock lead. Elliot played the ball to McKay at the edge of the Falkirk box, McKay played the ball to McKeown who played a sublime cross to the far post where Conroy pounced to score. Falkirk 0 Raith Rovers 1.
The Rovers goalscorer was almost immediately replaced by Anderson as Falkirk brought on Grant for Taiwo.
McGurn then saved Rovers with another wonder save, the ball was crossed in by Loy and as Watson tried to defend the cross the ball hit off him (with a hint of handball) and towards the goal and McGurn reacted brilliantly to push the ball away.
Rovers made one final change with Nade replacing Stewart in injury time as Rovers saw out the game and a fine victory.
The 149 Rovers supporters in the 3,358 crown who braved the freezing conditions in this late Saturday kick off left the Falkirk Stadium in great spirit. Grant Murray too will be delighted with a win and a clean sheet after a recent poor run of results. Falkirk will be disappointed not to get any reward from their 17 attempts at goal, with Davie McGurn largely to blame for that.
A good win, Rovers remain in 7th place and will hope to build on this result at Central Park in the Fife derby next week.
One change to the Falkirk side from last week, Cooper comes in for Vaulks.
Rovers with one change also, Elliot coming in for Nade.
Seasons greetings to Rovers fans far and wide.
The stadium announcer just informed us that we have Scott Martin playing, relax folks, it is in fact our own 'Jimmy' Scott.
There will be a one minute of silence in memory of the Glasgow Queen Street tragedy.
Rovers in white kick off towards the home fans.
McGurn comes out to punch clear from a free kick, Mr Dallas calls for an infringement.
Scott and McKay combining well.
Conroy gets disposessed in the area.
Elliot and MacDonald challenge for the ball, corner Rovers.
Conroy hits the corner too long, Scott strugled but failed to keep it in play.
The play has been quite pedestrian in the opening minutes.
Thomson down, clattered on the touchline.
Thomson returns to the field.
The Falkirk CM's playing head tennis, a move from the training ground.
Loy bundled off the ball, free kick 35 yards out.
Loy fires in a rebound, shouts for handball, ref waves on play.
Scott yellow for a foul.
Stewart and Elliot forcing a defencive error.
Duffie yellow for a foul on Scott.
Conroy with the free kick from 30 yards, alas he sends it just wide of the keepers left post.
Taiwo frustrated, holds back Elliot.
Elliot sends Conroy's corner skywards.
Sibbald takes a pot shot from 25 yards but sent it high.
McGurns pluckes the ball out of the air from Grant's looping header.
Mckeown hesitated and allowed Loy to shoot low, McGurn parried and Alston fired a rocket again saved by McGurn.
Alston and Loy combine and again Raith have McGurn to thank for a save.
Cooper crosses but the static Loy and Sibbald could not react.
Scott shoots in low from 25 yards, MacDonald spills then recovers the ball.
Scott chips the ball into the box but Stewart is held off by Cooper.
Cooper and Thomson clash heads, remarkably both get to their feet and continue play.
Scott delivers a peach of a long ball to McKay who chips his marker and is then brought down in the box, the ref waves on play.
Both sides lacking a cutting edge.
Loy with a left foot shot hits the side netting.
Callachan forces MacDonald to palm the ball off the post.
Cooper skins Thomson for Fakirk's first attacking move of the half.
Taiwo yellow for a foul on Scott.
Loy and Alsotn combine, the latter sending his shot wide.
Watson fails to clear, McGurn to the rescue.
Alston sends the ball across goal, no takers.
Grant in on goal, McGurn throws himself at the ball and clears.
Sibbald in along the bye line is disposessed by McKay.
Loy beats Hill in a foot race and hits a left foot shot just past McGurn's right post.
Botti Biabi off, Shepherd on.
Callachan delivering his second long pass to McKay, third time lucky?
Conroy heading just past at the back post.
Lucky Leahy, diverting Thomson's cross into the side nettting.
Sibbald takes a 30 yard free kick which is easily taken by McGurn.
Thomson yellow for a foul.
McKeown with a long throw, Duffie lets the ball drop to Elliot who cracked the ball first time into the crowd.
Both sides playing like they had seconds at the trifle.
McGurn forced to tip a high ball over the bar.
Sterling defending by Callachan.
Elliot on the break, delivers to Conroy who shot just wide.
Loy shoots just wide.
Cooper off, Smith on.
Elliot the provider and Conroy obliges at the back post. GOAL ROVERS.
Goal scorer Conroy off, Anderson on.
Taiwo off, Thomas Grant on.
McGurn plucks the ball off the goal line, spectacular work.
Peter Grant heads the ball onto the roof of the net.
Watson bravely blocks a Loy shot.
Duffie crosses to Loy whose glancing header went narrowly past McGurn's right post.
+1 Elliot in from the right shoots into MacDonald's arms.
+2 Stewart off, Nade on.
+3 Full time.
©Eddie Doig 2014