Kane Proves He’s Able In Friendly Defeat
James Craigen scored Raith Rovers first goal of their pre-season programme this evening, but it failed to spark a comeback, as Raith went down to Paul Hartley’s Dundee side by two goals to one.
Manager, Ray McKinnon made four changes from the side which lost out to Aberdeen on Sunday.
In goals, David McGurn made his first start of the summer, as did Mark Stewart who partnered the returning Lewis Vaughan up front, with Mitch Megginson dropping to the bench. Rory McKeown also returned to the starting line-up, with Darren Petrie missing out.
For Dundee, manager Paul Hartley gave starts to five of his new signings, with Kevin Holt, Nicky Law, Rory Loy, Kane Hemmings and Nick Ross, all in the starting XI.
Dundee returned from their Hungarian training camp on Sunday, and were quickly out the starting blocks, almost taking the lead in the opening minute.
Possession was squandered in the middle of the park, allowing Hemmings to dart forward and unleash a low, fizzing effort from 25-yards which McGurn did well to tip against the post.
Despite this being only Dundee’s second friendly, they were keeping the ball well in the opening stages, and Kyle Benedictus had to be vigilant to avert an opening for Loy, cutting out a through ball to the ex-Falkirk forward.
After being starved of the ball in the opening ten minutes or so, the hosts gradually began to get a toe-hold in the game, and much like Sunday, it was the woodwork which denied them the lead.
Stewart controlled the ball with his back to goal, before turning his man and getting a shot away. Scott Bain could only parry his effort, and from close range, Vaughan was unfortunate to see his prodded shot rebound clear after striking the underside of the bar.
Rovers were now starting to look more threatening, and Stewart perhaps should have done better when he appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball from a corner kick. The same striker looked to have been put through by Thomson a moment later, but the ball sped off the turf after it bounced, allowing the onrushing Bain to gather.
Both teams were creating chances, although Dundee were looking the more impressive on the ball, and a wonderful passing move after 20 minutes, ended with the advancing Holt, crossing the ball to Hemmings, who had managed to find room just eight yards out. However, after his first touch allowed him to take the ball on the volley, he appeared to strike the ball with his shin, causing it to loop harmlessly over the bar.
One thing that was apparent during Kane Hemmings career spell in Scotland with Cowdenbeath, is that if presented with chances, he will almost certainly take one of them, and he did just that, when presented with his third good opportunity just two minutes later.
Nicky Low broke up a Rovers attack in the middle of the park, and played it to Stewart, who advanced towards a retreating Rovers defence, before returning it to Low. He teed up Hemmings, who had again found space inside the area, and from an angle, he placed his shot beyond McGurn, and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The remainder of the half, saw Dundee play keep-ball, with their midfield diamond controlling possession and knocking it around well. Gary Harkins was dictating things in front of his back four, while Nicky Low was doing an able job of dismantling Raith’s build up play. Stewart’s positioning at the tip of the midfield, just behind Loy and Hemmings, meant that at times, Dundee had a forward three, although to Rovers credit, apart from yet another Hemmings chance which McGurn saved excellently, low to his left, Dundee were toiling create too many chances, despite the lion’s share of the game.
Dundee made four substitutions at half-time, and it took one of them, Julen Etxabeguren, just two minutes to get on the scoresheet. Stewart’s low free-kick from wide on the left should probably have been cleared, but instead, it drifted through to the back post, where the former East Fife defender was able to stab home from close range.
At that point, it looked like Dundee might run away with it, but to Rovers credit, they scored almost immediately, reducing the arrears in the 51st minute. Good work from Grant Anderson down the right-hand side, allowed him to cross the ball into the box, via a deflection, which fell kindly to James Craigen who calmly slotted it past the exposed Bain.
Suddenly, Rovers dander was in the up position, and Ross Callachan almost brought parity a minute or so later, when his rip-snorter of a shot from 20-yards was plucked out the top corner by Bain.
The Dens Park custodian was called into action once more on the hour mark, when Lewis Vaughan skipped clear of the Dundee defence, and played a square ball to Stewart who was in support and arrowing towards goal. However, despite a fine pass, Stewart’s heavy touch took the ball away from him, allowing Bain to narrow the angle and block the effort.
Rovers were enjoying a fine spell at this stage, but with six substitutions over the final half-hour, the momentum appeared to be lost, although the pace of one of those subs, Mitch Megginson, did threaten Dundee on the counter-attack on a few occasions.
Despite Dundee regaining control in the final stages, the final chance fell to Rovers in the last few minutes. Megginson was brought down just outside the penalty area, and from a right-hand angle, Vaughan did well to get his direct free-kick up, over the wall and on target, but Bain impressively tipped the goal-bound shot over the bar.
Rovers next test will be their first away match of the summer, when they travel to Methil this Saturday, to take on Gary Naysmith’s East Fife side.
Photpgraphs © Tony Fimister 2015
Manager Ray McKinnon spoke with Raith TV after the match
Rory McKeown passed the 50 game mark v Dundee
Raith Rovers will welcome their third visitors to Stark’s Park this summer, when Paul Hartley’s Dundee side make the trip to Kirkcaldy on Wednesday evening.
This will be Dundee’s first friendly on Scottish soil, but they’ll presumably be in tip-top shape, after returning from a week’s worth of warm weather training in Hungary, where they were put through their paces at The Globall Football Park in Telkl, located on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
As well as double training sessions, the Dees also played a bounce match against Hungarian top-tier team Paksi on Saturday, with the local side running out 1-0 winners.
The match was the first opportunity for a raft of new faces to make their first appearance for Dundee, with Paul Hartley wasting no time in seeking to improve a side which finished sixth in the Premiership last time around.
Former Stranraer goalkeeper, David Mitchell will possibly be expected to play second-fiddle to Scott Bain, while the defence will see the new additions of Kevin Holt, Darryll Meggatt and Julen Etxabeguren join from Queen of the South, Alloa and East Fife respectively.
Hartley also moved quickly to sign forward, Rory Loy from Falkirk, as well as acquiring Kane Hemmings from Barnsley, who’ll be reunited with Greg Stewart, after the pair impressed in tandem for Cowdenbeath two seasons ago.
The final two additions to their roster are both midfielders with Premiership experience, with Nicky Low signing up after leaving Aberdeen, and he could be partnered with Nick Ross, who had spent six years with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The two clubs last competitive meeting was almost twelve months ago, when Dundee were convincing 4-0 winners in a League Cup second round tie at Dens Park last August.
Wednesday evening’s match referee will be John McKendrick.
Dundee Ins and Outs:
In: David Mitchell, (Stranraer) Kevin Holt, (Queen of the South) Nicky Low, (Aberdeen) Rory Loy, (Falkirk) Kane Hemmings, (Barnsley) Darryll Meggatt, (Alloa) Nick Ross, (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) Julen Etxabeguren, (East Fife)
Out: Martin Boyle, (Hibernian) Kyle Benedictus, (Raith Rovers) Jamie Reid, (Arbroath) David Clarkson, (Motherwell) Kyle Letheren, (Blackpool) Craig Wighton, (Raith Rovers; loan) Iain Davidson, (Unattached) Paul Heffernan, (Unattached) Jim McAllister, (Unattached) Willie Dyer, (Unattached) Stephen McGinn (Unattached)
Overall Head-to-Head Record:
Raith Rovers Wins: 31 | Dundee Wins: 69 | Draws: 35
Raith Rovers Goals: 151 | Dundee Goals: 225