Super Subs Sink Alloa
The Rovers made the short trip along the Forth to face Danny Lennon’s Alloa Athletic. Ray McKinnon’s side were looking to maintain a streak of four league wins. The line-ups saw Scott Robertson make his first Rovers start after a couple of Development League runs out over the international break. Also coming in was Craig Wighton with Ryan McCord and Grant Anderson moving to the bench. The hosts had ex-Rover Andrew McNeil in goal (in purple tights!) and the much travelled Michael Chopra up front.
Conditions were good and kick off followed the annual Show Racism the Red Card display from players. There was an early injury to the corner flag which took a knock which seemed to leave it in three sections. Two were re-connected and the mini flag was quickly replaced by a grounds man. The first chance fell to the hosts, as the Raith support called for offside a cross was headed over by Flannigan.
McKeown then pushed forward and from the resulting corner and some pin ball in the home box ended with the ball being hoofed clear. Toshney then headed Craigen’s free kick wide as the Rovers started well. Before the first ten minutes were over Alloa had a free kick which saw them fail to capitalise from a stramash in the Raith box. Cuthbert was then able to take a cross shot easily before Marr was booked after a more than vigorous challenge on Wighton.
In the 14th minute a long clearance from Cuthbert was flicked on by Daly and Stewart took a touch before seeing his stinging volley acrobatically tipped away by a leaping McNeil. The resulting corner was hit low at goal by Wighton and with McNeil beaten a home man on the post booted the ball away. Daly had the next chance skying his first time shot from seven yards having got on the end of Stewarts low cross after Craigen had found Mark with a good ball.
Alloa were trying to put the ball over the Raith defence and Toshney then Thomson blocked home efforts. The Rovers threatened next from a corner with Davidson heading back across goal and Benedictus had two efforts that didn’t break the deadlock.
As both sides tried to get the vital first goal with neither managing to take control home man Duffy fired a shot into the rail side trees before McNeil half caught then at the second attempt claimed a testing McKeown cross before the half ended with an odd moment. Cuthbert went out his box to sweep up and taking a touch eluded the first man before his clearance was blocked by a closing Wasp. The ball arched up and towards goal! From the other side the concerned Rovers support held their breath trying to work out where the ball was going to end up. Lewis Toshney wisely decided to remove the danger heading the ball out of play.
That was the big defenders last contribution as Ryan McCord took his place at the second half kick-off. The ex-Alloa man coming on in midfield as Iain Davidson slotted back into the back four beside Benedictus. Perhaps Ryan was overly familiar with his surroundings misplacing his first few passes but soon settled in and became more effective.
Trying to gain the upper hand Stewart did well wide and Craigen’s shot was blocked. Pushing on the Rovers saw a move involving Robertson, Thomson and Wighton end with Craigen just failing to force a shot on goal. Then from a free kick Benedictus sent a firm header over as the Rovers pushed for the opener. The hosts had similar ideas and Chopra will have been disappointed to head at Cuthbert from a dangerous position then see his shot blocked at the end of a quick counter attack.
The pace had increased and the game was becoming more end to end. A Daly header into the box led to a more than hopeful shout for handball. Then a McCord free kick led to Craigen’s inviting cross which saw Benedictus head across goal and despite Alloa’s defence being pulled out of shape they somehow managed prevent Thomson’s vicious low shot hitting the target. Alloa also looked dangerous and Cuthbert was pleased to take a long ball after the threatening front man took a touch to make it easier for him…
In the 70th minute McNeil took it upon himself to dash shouting to the edge of his box trying to take a high ball. He missed clattering Daly who’d headed goal ward but just wide. Daly had a better – and less painful opportunity – moments later heading a free kick over. The Rovers kept on pushing and another good ball from Stewart wide eluded Wighton but the in rushing Robertson shot low and McNeil blocked then claimed the ball at the second attempt.
Both managers shuffled their packs in the 79th minute making double substitutions. Craigen and Wighton were replaced by Anderson and Megginson. Ray McKinnon’s change paid almost instant dividends as Megginson nicked the ball and moved forward playing in Stewart wide. Mark’s low ball back to the running Megginson was hit goal ward and McNeil dove to block it. Yet again he didn’t hold it and Anderson was all too keen to capitalise stabbing the ball home from about four yards. The Rovers players chased after him gleefully as he high stepped towards the celebrating travelling support.
Alloa tried to react to going behind and some pressure ended with a shot wide from Hamilton. Anderson scampered down the wing easily outpacing a heavy footed defender and his low cross was somehow nicked from Stewart’s toe in the six yard box as the Rovers looked to seal the three points. Cuthbert easily claimed a tame shot from a Wasp then after a deep cross was squared Crawford put the last attempt of the game wide.
The Rovers fans cheered the final whistle and applauded the Raith players who had put in a hard shift. Both sides had chances with the Rovers creating more but many a similar match over the years have ended nil nil. However, yet again the points went to the Rovers and the winning run was extended for another week.
© Eddie Doig
RaithTV spoke with the gaffer after the win at Alloa
After the drama, and ultimate disappointment of the international break, the SPFL returns this weekend, with Raith Rovers travelling to Clackmannanshire, to take on Danny Lennon’s Alloa Athletic team.
While Raith’s impressive form has seen them win six of their last nine games, Alloa have also enjoyed an upturn in fortunes, with just two defeats in five after a difficult start to the campaign. Not only has that sequence seen them defeat Dumbarton, they’ve also posted impressive draws against both Falkirk and St. Mirren. Those five points, mean the Wasps have now nudged ahead of Livingston once again at the foot of the Championship table, and currently reside in ninth place.
Jason Thomson’s late, late goal in the 2-1 win over Morton a fortnight ago, sustained Rovers 100% home record, and they’ll be looking to make it two successive league wins on their travels this Saturday, after the win in Paisley in last month.
The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 3-0 win for Raith, but that didn’t necessarily tell the whole story of the match, which was a reasonably tight affair, at least until James Craigen opened the scoring with a stunning volley from 25-yards, ten minutes into the second period. Further goals from Craig Wighton and Mark Stewart completed the scoring.
Evenly-matched games are a recurring theme in this fixture, and while Rovers have an impressive record at the Indodrill Stadium, you have to go back to 1990 to find the last time the Kirkcaldy club won a match at the venue by more than one goal, a 4-0 victory back in April of that year.
Raith have six wins and three draws from the last ten meetings between the clubs, with Alloa’s only triumph coming in November 2013.
Saturday’s match referee will be Andrew Dallas.
Head-to-Head League Record at Indodrill Stadium:
Alloa Athletic Wins: 17 | Raith Rovers Wins: 22 | Draws: 7
Alloa Athletic Goals: 72 | Raith Rovers Goals: 83
Alloa Athletic: L-W-L-D-L-D | Raith Rovers: L-W-W-L-W-W
Alloa Athletic: Iain Flannigan 3
Raith Rovers: Kyle Benedictus 3 | Mark Stewart 3
Alloa Athletic: 3/1 | Raith Rovers: 10/11 | Draw: 13/5