Rovers End Pre-Season On A High
Raith Rovers made it three games unbeaten and three without conceding a goal in their final pre-season fixture this afternoon, with a resounding 4-0 win over Arbroath at Gayfield.
Aaron Lennox made his first start for the club in goal, and despite the recent acquisition, paperwork pending, of central-defender, Jean-Yves M’Voto, it was Kyle Benedictus and Craig Barr who started in the middle of defence.
The two Ross’, Callachan and Matthews were the pivots in midfield, with Bobby Barr on the right, and a trialist, let’s call him Trialist A, on the left.
Up front, Lewis Vaughan was partnered with Trialist B, with a further unnamed trialist on the bench.
Arbroath manager, Dick Campbell appears to have assembled a talented looking squad over the summer, with ex-Raith midfielder, Ryan McCord in midfield, while the attacking trio of Steven Doris, Brian Prunty and Bobby Linn should all catch the eye in League Two this term.
In the opening moments, a run down the left-hand side from the eager to impress, Trialist B saw him drive the ball into the box, and while Josh Thomson did well to deflect the ball wide, he was somewhat fortuitous that the ball ruffled the side netting and not the back of the rigging.
Raith certainly weren’t bossing the early stages though, and when possession was given away in the middle of the park, Arbroath suddenly had a two-on-two situation, as McCord and Prunty broke away. However, Callachan showed fine awareness to track back and disrupt the Red Lichties chance, which they should really have made more of.
There then followed a short spell of Arbroath promise, with the Rovers rear-guard having to block a number of attempts from the edge of the area, as McCord, Doris and Prunty all asked questions in the early stages.
Bobby Barr and Vaughan have both looked lively this summer, and it appeared this match was going to be no different. Vaughan gathered the ball in the centre of the park, before playing a one-two with the winger. Taking up a position on the right-angle of the penalty area, space opened up in front of the forward, but his shot, though well struck, flashed over.
With possession reasonably even in the game’s opening stages, Raith created the game’s best opportunity in the 25th minute. Callachan found himself in time and space on the right-hand side of the area, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Even though the chance was frittered away, it was an indicator that Rovers were just starting to step it up a gear, and that was confirmed when they opened the scoring just five minutes later.
Jason Thomson’s throw in, deep inside Arbroath’s half, eventually made its way to Callachan in the middle of the park, and his clever through pass to an advancing Vaughan, allowed the striker to arrow towards goal, before placing a well-hit shot past the advancing, Robbie Mutch.
Despite the setback, Arbroath were almost level a moment later.
Colin Hamilton flicked a ball on to Linn from a corner, but he thumped his half-volley past Lennox’s right-hand post.
Arbroath would rue that miss, as it was 2-0 by the 38th minute.
Bobby Barr accelerated past Omar Kader, and although he was eventually brought down just outside the penalty area, the Forfar player had been hanging off his shirt for about twelve yards before the winger eventually succumbed to the impediment.
Perhaps surprisingly, Kevin McHattie stood over the free-kick, and encouragingly, the left-back curled a fine low effort around the wall and just inside Robbie Mutch’s right-hand post from approximately 22-yards to double Rovers advantage.
Raith were now firmly in the ascendency, and the two trialists almost combined to make it three. The forward dropped deep, before firing off an excellent pass to the left-midfielder who had beaten the offside trap, but Mutch was the equal to his shot on target.
Gary Locke made one change at the interval, with David Bates replacing Craig Barr at centre-half, and the second period was only seconds old when the Kirkcaldy side made it 3-0.
Trialist A combined well with Barr on the edge of the area, with the ball eventually being worked through a congested penalty area to the advancing Trialist B who powered through the Arbroath defence and calmly slotted past substitute goalkeeper, Ricky Gomes.
The just-introduced ‘keeper had to be alert a few moments later, nimbly touching away a fine attempt from Trialist A, which was heading into the top-corner from a tight angle.
Play was now all heading towards Gomes, who was well positioned to stop Trialist B grabbing his second of the game, after great work by Barr to avoid two challenges before teeing him up.
The Arbroath goalie’s reactions were tested yet further, when he stuck out a hand to stop a shot from the impressive Trialist A, who’d done well to wriggle free in the area.
After a flurry of Arbroath substitutions, the home side seemed to stymie Raith’s momentum, and with 20 minutes left, Trialist A made way for Jonny Court, while M’Voto was introduced for Benedictus. Raith’s number of trialists didn’t diminish for too long however, as a third was introduced for Ross Matthews.
The game’s closing stages appeared to be petering out, with the imposing looking M’Voto one of the few notable features of a game which had went from a reasonably high-tempo affair to a more low-key runabout.
Not that the scoring was finished however, as with ten minutes remaining, Raith made it four.
Again, the good work was started by Barr, who drove into the heart of Arbroath’s area. He found Vaughan on the edge of the box, and he was clever enough to pick out Trialist C who stroked the ball past Gomes.
It was a fine way to bring the curtain down on the pre-season campaign, with the real stuff kicking-off next Friday, when Raith take on Cove Rangers at Station Park, Forfar.
Match highlights generously supplied by 36nilTV:
© Eddie Doig 2016