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Team Pd GD Pt
1 Arbroath 34 28 69
2 Forfar 34 5 57
3 Raith Rovers 34 25 56
4 Montrose 34 0 50
5 East Fife 34 -6 45
6 Airdrieonians 34 1 42
7 Dumbarton 34 -1 42
8 Stranraer 34 -8 42
9 Brechin 34 -18 35
10 Stenhousemuir 34 -26 35
Updated: 21st Apr
Saturday July 29th 2017

Raith Rovers 2 – 0 Cowdenbeath


Raith brought their BetFred Cup campaign to a close with an emphatic 2-0 victory over a poor Cowdenbeath side at Starks Park this afternoon. Goals from Lewis Vaughan and Liam Buchanan sealed a victory in a match which was over as a contest well before even the half-time whistle.

With Barry Smith’s side starting to gel through midfield and upfront, Raith passed the ball well and were unquestionably the hungrier of the two sides throughout. For Raith, a welcome burst of confidence and momentum before next week’s opening League fixture at Alloa; for the visitors Cowdenbeath, this season could be a very long one indeed.

With neither side able to progress in this season’s BetFred competition – each with one win in three in the competition so far – today’s fixture felt on occasion like a pre-season friendly, with a low tempo and played in bright sunshine. Smith made one change, with Ian Davidson dropping to the bench and a start for young defender David McKay. Lewis Vaughan sat behind the front two of Spence and Buchanan. Ross Callachan continued as captain.

Last season, Cowdenbeath didn’t have their troubles to seek. A difficult spell in the management hot seat from Gary Locke saw a string of poor results, league status assured only after a frantic penalty shoot-out win over East Kilbride. This season’s side has yet to knit together properly – Morris and Muirhead partnered upfront again, with goalkeeper McGovern a diminutive presence between the posts. Two heavy BetFred defeats against both Dundee clubs had clearly had an impact on the visitors’ confidence, with a lack of flow through midfield evident from the outset.

Raith started very brightly indeed. If manager Smith’s gameplan was to put the match to bed early and earn a more relaxing second-half, the plan worked perfectly – four clear-cut chances were created in the first ten minutes. Raith would be a goal up before the visitors had crossed the half-way line in any meaningful sense.

From the outset, Vaughan Buchanan and Spence interlinked well, with neat passes and short sharp bursts creating space. An early one-two between Buchanan and Robertson drew applause, as did Cowdenbeath keeper McGovern’s save to deny the opener. Callachan fed Vaughan, the youngster’s drive blocked clear. With the clock only showing five minutes, Spence’s shot following a Vaughan corner was turned off the line by Mullen.

A goal was coming. Raith’s early shine was matched by a lethargic showing from their visitors – in the early moments, only Muirhead upfront displayed real appetite. The small group of away fans – housed in the dark recesses of the main stand with the empty North Stand bathed in sunshine – had little to cheer.

On eight minutes, Raith went ahead. Callachan found space to nip a neat through ball to Lewis Vaughan, and the Raith striker composed himself and fired a flashing shot into McGovern’s far corner. The lead was clearly deserved. Having taken control of the game early, Raith wouldn’t relinquish control of the game from that point.

More pleasing was the appetite Raith had for more. Minutes after the opener, Callachan again burst through midfield and played a slide-rule pass inside centre-halves Rumsby and Syme, allowing Buchanan to jink in ahead of McGovern advancing from his line – Buchanan’s cut-back from a narrow angle was cleared away.

Although Cowdenbeath offered little in central areas, there was no denying Raith were brimming with confidence in the opening half. Robertson and Callachan seemed to gel particularly well – the former wisely stroking the ball left and right and showing a spritely turn of pace to dictate the direction of travel; the newly-installed young captain was more bravado and bluster, running at men, and driving forward at pace. Callachan also combined well with Jason Thomson running from right-back – although Thomson clearly has reduced top speed from several years ago, his combination play with Callachan was a problem Cowdenbeath didn’t solve for the full ninety minutes.

Robertson shot low at McGovern after quarter of an hour; Callachan’s back-heel freed Vaughan to fire another effort goal-bound minutes later.

Callachan’s range of passing looks also to have improved – although perhaps confidence is the sole reason for a quality which has been underused in recent, more troubled, times. Like a patient and experienced NFL quarterback, Callachan now moderates his use of the deep ball – he threw a hail-mary deep beyond left-back Rutherford on twenty minutes, finding Buchanan in space to launch another attack on McGovern’s goal – Rutherford’s frustration nearly resulting in the match’s only booking after a couple of late lunges in the minutes that followed.

On the half-hour, Raith extended their lead with a lovely passing movement. While the goal looked deceptively simple – Matthews’ cross, Spence’s nod back, and Liam Buchanan’s finish – Raith had strung together numerous passes, exercised patience, and struck quickly and with style. The smiles on the players’ faces told its own story.

Ross Matthews brought the half to a close with a rasping drive from his wide-left berth – his shot fizzing just over McGovern’s cross-bar.

Visiting manager Billy Brown no doubt sought a reaction from his troops after half-time. McInally and Muirhead exchanged passes, with Ross Matthews looking lively to block a goal-bound effort. Callachan was robbed by Swann, with the midfielder leaving his opposite numbers trailing in his wake before running out of steam, allowing Lennox to gather at his near-post.

The tempo of the match dropped noticeably as the second-half wore on. Rumsby seemed to have two hands on Spence’s shoulders in defending a whipped Vaughan centre – the referee saw no offence. Within seconds, the big defender showed no little skill under pressure, back-flicking substitute Bobby Barr’s cross out of his own six-yard box.

Jason Thomson was next to test the Cowdenbeath defence – with one run, the former captain weaved inside, stepped off both feet, and only narrowly failed to find a forward to apply the finishing touch. A minute later, a deeper cross evaded all-comers, dipping onto the roof of McGovern’s net.

As many early-season games do, tempers frayed slightly nearing the end. Vaughan’s lovely turn and nutmeg on the far touch-line was rewarded with a clatter from Rutherford, Mullen jumped into Benedictus in the box, and the South Stand erupted with two penalty shouts in five seconds, both Spence and Vaughan unceremoniously dumped into the Starks Park turf. The referee’s reluctance to blow his whistle lead to unseemly pushing and shoving, as temperatures rose.

The match wound down to a conclusion in the last ten minutes. With the score-line not in doubt, and Raith having replaced all three strikers to applause from the home support, it was substitute Yaw Osei who shone most brightly – his driven cross-shot from the tightest of angles whizzing inches beyond McGovern’s far-post. Barr’s shot and Callachan’s drive both drew late saves from the Cowdenbeath keeper. The margin of victory stayed at two, but could have been several goals greater.

An efficient and in places stylish victory for Raith fans to mull over as August approaches and the League campaign begins in earnest with next week’s trip to Alloa. Sterner opposition will be encountered soon, so lessons may be difficult to draw from Tuesday’s and Saturday’s victories.

However, while not progressing through the group stages of the BetFred Cup may strike some as a disappointment, a pragmatic view would be that the Cup has served its purpose – experienced opposition have shown the heights which Raith can aspire to this season, and two inferior opponents have been dispatched with clean and concise passing, excellent team play, and no fewer than eight goals. Raith take well-earned confidence into next week.

Welcome to Starks Park for our final Betfred Cup game against Cowdenbeath
Cowdenbeath kick off
Good ball from Matthews towards Vaughan but it was too heavy for Vaughan to pick up
Strong clearance from Murray on the edge of the box
Good play between Robertson and Buchanan with one two touches but neither slot the ball away
Corner to Raith
Vaughan gets the ball into the box but Spencer's strike is cleared off the line
Vaughan scores for Raith with a shot inside the box
Corner to Cowdenbeath
Good ball in but doesn't connect with anyone and goes out for a goal kick to Raith
Callachan goes on a fantastic run up the pitch plays the ball onto Buchanan who chips it. Keeper clears and Spence couldn't finish
Long throw in from Cowden into Raith box bit Bene heads clear
Bene covers the ball well, turns and clears the ball up field
Throw in to Raith deep in Cowden half
Vaughan and Thomson play the one two, Robertson takes a shot straight to the keeper
Lovely back healer from Vaughan to Callachan who takes a shot but keeper gathers
Foul to Raith. Callachan plays the ball onto Spence who is fouled just outside Cowden box
Corner Raith
Good ball in from Vaughan meets the head of Raith player but keeper collects
McKay with clearance header in Raith box throw in to Cowden
Foul on Vaughan
Neat one two between Thomson and Callachan
Cowden go for a shot on goal but doesn't trouble lennox as it goes out for goal kick
Goal Raith
Buchanan this time. Matthews crosses the ball in deep and Buchanan knocks it in
Foul to Cowdenbeath in their box
McKay with a relaxed tackle to put the ball out for Cowden corner
Robertson with timely tackle picked up by Callachan who takes the ball up the park
A lot of good play from Raith
Ball from Vaughan to Callachan who plays a shot but it's cleared inside the Cowden box
Could to Cowden in Raith half
Cowden play the ball into the box comes off the head of Cowden's Morris but it goes out for a goalkick
Good shot on goal from Matthews but the ball goes just over the bar
Smith is constant with his direction and encouragement from the sideline. Good to see and hear
Bit of an H &H from Spence there as he over kicks the ball high into the North Stand
McGurn is on the pitch at half-time for a wee interview and draw 50/50, a warm reception from the Raith fans
Teams come back onto the pitch. Raith will shooting towards the home fans this half
Foul to Raith
Callachan plays to Spence who plays to Murray. Murray is fouled
Close one. Vaughan takes the free-kick short pass to Callachan who plays a low drive which goes inches past the post
Seagulls are swooping into the South Stand.
Murray down injured and receiving treatment
Back on his feet and back on the park
Foul to Cowden as Vaughan brings down one of their players at the dugout touchline
Most of the play is going on in the middle of the park at the moment
With Raith having most of the play and passing the ball about
Sub for Raith off Buchanan on Barr
Thomson plays the ball onto Barr who crosses into the box Vaughan is fouled in the box but ref plays on
Thomson runs across the edge of the Cowden box. He could shoot with his left and he didn't pass to Spence.
Cowden sub Morris off Kellichan on
Foul to Raith Cowden player body checks Vaughan
Vaughan free kick into the box is met by a Cowden boot
Cowden thinking of making another sub
Cowden sub Off Rutherford On Thomson
Murray tries to play the ball onto Spence but it's too soft and it's played just behind and rolls out the park
Spence his for goal but keeper clears for a Raith corner
Vaughan turns a Cowden player and is fouled in the box. No penalty says the ref.
Matthews is fouled at the corner but ref again says no foul
Matthews is fouled at the corner but ref again says no foul
Foul to Raith as Roberston is dragged to the ground
Bene down
Dusts himself down and play continues
Free kick to Raith as Matthews is brought down deep in Cowden half. Vaughan' s free kick is too much and goes out for a goal kick
Could Osei be coming on at some point. Stripped and warming up at the by-line
Yup Osei is has been given the call to come back to dugout
Jason is fouled on the by-line but bliss for a goal kick
Raith sub Off Spence On Osei
Court may also be coming on soon
Raith sub Off Vaughan On Court
Oh.. nearly stunning goal from Osei.
Attendance today 1480
Corner Raith
Barr with the ball into the box, meets the head of Court but keeper catches
A thunder shot from Barr making the keeper dive ...corner to to Raith
Matthews in the box tries to pass to Osei but too many players and Osei can't collect
+1 Cowden try to go for goal but it's cleared
Full-time here at Starks 2 nil to Raith. Good passing play from Raith who deserve the win
+1 Start of league business next week
Lennox; Thomson; Callachan (Cpt); Murray; Benedictus; Spence; Robertson; Buchanan; Vaughan; Matthews; McKay
Subs: Brian; Barr; Davidson; Osei; Court; Berry; Valentine

McGovern; Pyper; Rutherford; Mullen; Rumsby (Cpt); Syme; McInally; Buchanan; Morris; Muirhead; Swann
Subs;Miller; Ovenstone; Thomson; Kellichan; Penman; Turnbull; Leslie

RaithTV chatted with the Gaffer after the 2-0 win against Cowdenbeath

Raith Rovers and Cowdenbeath will bring a close to their Betfred League Cup campaign this weekend, when the two meet at Stark’s Park this Saturday.

With both teams picking up just one win from their first three matches, neither can progress to the knockout phase, although whoever wins on Saturday will finish third, taking the additional prize money that comes with it.

The two teams were in action in midweek, and while Rovers were racking up the goals at Buckie, Billy Brown’s team experienced contrasting fortunes at Central Park, where a first-half hat-trick from Sofien Moussa, condemned the Blue Brazil to a 3-0 defeat.

After taking over from Gary Locke this summer, Billy Brown has attempted to rebuild a side which only managed to stay in the league last term, thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over East Kilbride in the League Two play-off.

With David McGurn picking up an injury which may rule him out of this one, two goalkeepers have been brought in, with Joe McGovern arriving from Forfar, as well as Blair Penman, who’s just been released by Celtic.

Defender, David Syme signed permanently after his loan spell from Raith last term, and he could be joined at the back by John Ovenstone, who’s been snapped up from Tayport in a player/coach position. Nineteen year-old right-back, Matthew McInally could also feature, after he was picked up following a spell with Partick Thistle.

Midfielders Robbie Buchanan and Jack Whittaker were acquired after they left Hearts and Kilmarnock respectively, while prolific striker, Josh Morris was signed from Hawick Royal Albert.

These two sides last met in July 2015, when a Lewis Vaughan goal was all that separated them in a Challenge Cup tie at Central Park, but it was a different story when they last played at Stark’s Park in April 2015, when a Colin Nish hat-trick secured an impressive 3-1 win for the Blue Brazil.

The recent head-to-head is reasonably even Steven, with Rovers picking up five wins from the last ten meetings, compared to Cowdenbeath’s four.

Saturday’s match referee will be Kevin Graham.

Head-to-Head Cup Record Versus Cowdenbeath:

Raith Rovers Wins: 7 |  Draws: 1 | Cowdenbeath Wins: 6

Raith Rovers Goals: 30 | Cowdenbeath Goals: 20

Current Form:

Raith Rovers: L-L-W

Cowdenbeath: W-L-L

Top Goal Scorers:

Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 3, Liam Buchanan 2, Greig Spence 1, Ross Matthews 1

Cowdenbeath: Cameron Muirhead 2, David Syme 2

Match Odds:

Raith Rovers: 2/5 |  Draw: 4/1 |  Cowdenbeath: 6/1