Points Dropped In Station Park Draw
Raith Rovers saw their lead at the top of the League One table whittled away this afternoon, after a disappointing 1-1 draw against bottom-of-the-table Forfar Athletic.
John Herron had given Rovers a second-half lead, but after the dismissal of Iain Davidson following the concession of a penalty, Mark Millar’s successful spot-kick earned the Loons a hard-earned point.
Manager, Barry Smith made one change from the abandoned match at Stranraer, with Kevin McHattie, who featured for the under-20 side in midweek, returning to the fold for Jamie Watson, a move which allowed Jason Thomson to return to his more natural right-back berth.
Forfar were without a league win since the opening day of the campaign, but Jim Weir’s new charges started the game brightly, with Marc Scott and Jamie Bain in particular causing a nuisance of themselves down Raith’s left-hand side, and Rovers had a close escape after seven minutes, when Graeme Smith was forced into a fine, fingertip save to deny Conner Duthie from 20-yards.
Despite the length of the league separating the two teams, it had been an uncomfortable opening period for the away side, as Forfar penned Raith in for the opening ten minutes or so, with Rovers forced into defending numerous crosses into the area, with right full-back Bain repeatedly getting into advanced positions.
Despite that, Rovers almost took the lead after quarter of an hour, with Forfar their own worst enemy at the back.
Left-back, Michael Kennedy gifted possession away to Bobby Barr, then attempted to make amends by pulling on his jersey and bringing him down, an action which brought a booking from referee, Graham Beaton. From Lewis Vaughan’s free-kick from the wide area, Liam Buchanan met the ball with a strong downward header, which Marc McCallum saved well with his feet.
Buchanan was the architect of Raith’s next chance a few moments later, but after skipping into the Forfar penalty area, he skelped his shot well over McCallum’s crossbar.
The match had now completely swung the other way after the opening exchanges, with Rovers taking a firm grip on proceedings, but despite a flurry of opportunities, none could be capitalised on, with Vaughan, Buchanan and Heron all trying their luck to no avail.
Spence was then the next to have a go, pivoting away from his marker on the right-angle of the penalty box, but after doing well to create a little wriggle-room, his shot was lashed wildly past the target.
It was starting to become a recurring theme, and a frustrating one at that, and after latching on to a hefty, wind assisted lump up the park from Smith, Buchanan found himself behind the Loons defence, but the difficult, high bouncing ball did little to help him, and like virtually everything which had aimed at McCallum’s goal, the attempt was wayward.
The final passage of play was undoubtedly the first period’s best, as Vaughan skipped past three challenges down the left, before heading in-field and squaring to Barr, who flicked it sideways to Thomson, who, perhaps spurred on by his recent goal-scoring prowess, elected to let fly from over 30-yards, but his ambitious effort just failed to dip quickly enough to trouble Forfar’s number one.
With Forfar playing with the wind in the second period, the concern was that they’d make better use of it than the visitors had done in the previous 45, and they should really have taken the lead in its opening moments.
Dylan Easton combined with David Cox, and his deep cross looked ideal for Murray Mackintosh who’d arrived into the area late, but he could only apply his knee to the in swinger, and the chance was gone.
However, Rovers were straight up the park, and after the ball broke to Vaughan 25-yards from goal, his fiercely struck first-time effort whistled just over the bar.
The Forfar ‘keeper hadn’t been pressed into action on too many occasions in the game, but he was forced into a save in the 58th minute, after Vaughan let fly after dribbling along the edge of the box, but it was a fairly comfortable one which he caught cleanly.
McCallum was beaten a few moments later though, with a goal that appeared out of very little.
Thomson’s cross to the back post appeared to be evading everyone, but with the Forfar defence caught static, Herron was able to stab it home at the back-post.
Despite their being half-an-hour remaining, a second goal would almost certainly have sealed matters, and Buchanan almost generated it, running onto a pass from Vaughan and half-volleying an effort which McCallum again did well to gather in.
However, Forfar got back into the game in the 73rd minute, with a goal that was entirely avoidable.
There appeared little danger as the ball was launched in the general direction of substitute Ousman See, but with Iain Davidson caught underneath it, and Graeme Smith electing to stay on his line, See was suddenly right through with just the ‘keeper to beat, a fact which prompted Davidson to haul the forward back, handing the home side a penalty, and a numerical advantage, as Davidson was promptly dismissed for his endeavour. Mark Millar made no mistake from the spot-kick.
It was now going to be a huge test of character for the short-handed Rovers side, and they were almost a goal behind with ten minutes left, as Easton flashed a shot centimetres wide of Smith’s left-hand post.
Both teams continued to push in the closing moments, but while Rovers failed to threaten, Forfar almost won it at the death, when a header from Scott McBride flashed just wide.
The result now means Rovers top the table on goal difference, albeit having played a game fewer. Next week’s match sees the return of the Fife derby, with East Fife the visitors to Stark’s Park.
© Eddie Doig 2017
RaithTV chatted with Barry after the 1-1 draw at Forfar RaithTV
After the damp disappointment of last weekend’s abandoned fixture against Stranraer, Raith are back on the road this Saturday, with a trip to bottom of the table Forfar Athletic.
The Loons recently parted company with Garry Bollan, with his place taken by former Elgin boss Jim Weir, who has started his tenure with a 1-1 draw with Queen’s Park, and most recently, a 5-0 home defeat to Ayr United.
That win saw the Honest Men move to within two points of Rovers at the top of the League One table, although Barry Smith’s men have of course played one game fewer.
Raith and Forfar have met once already this term, and although Rovers ran out eventual 3-1 winners, it was far from straightforward, with two late goals eventually sealing the points.
Marc Millar had fired the away side in front with an excellent free-kick after just 18 minutes, although Lewis Vaughan restored parity just after the half-hour mark.
Jamie Bain then saw a straight red card, and despite the numerical advantage, it took until the 85th minute for Raith to take the lead through Liam Buchanan, and the points were eventually made safe just three minutes later, thanks to a close range strike from Greig Spence.
It’s been 10 years since Raith visited Station Park on league duty, although they did meet at the same venue in the Challenge Cup just last term, with the home side producing a surprising victory.
Mark Stewart had given Rovers the lead midway through the first period, but a goal from Lewis Milne and a brace from Josh Peters put Forfar in the driving seat, and despite a late goal from Declan McManus, Rovers couldn’t force the game into extra-time.
Despite that reverse, Raith have a good recent record against Forfar, with six wins and two draws from the last ten competitive meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Graham Beaton.
Head-To-Head League Record at Forfar:
Forfar Athletic Wins: 15 | Raith Rovers Wins: 11 | Draws: 9
Forfar Athletic Goals: 61 | Raith Rovers Goals: 50
Forfar Athletic: L-L-L-D-D-L | Raith Rovers: W-W-W-L-W-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Forfar Athletic: Marc Millar 6
Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 17 | Liam Buchanan 7 | Greig Spence 6
Forfar Athletic: 7/1 | Raith Rovers: 2/5 | Draw: 19/5