Rovers Lack Fizz in Irn Bru Cup
A decent Rovers support travelled to Dumbarton under clear skies arriving to find a light breeze coming up the Clyde and across the pitch. The Sons have a number of ex-Rovers on their books and Mark Stewart and Craig Barr both started with David Smith, Chris Johnston and Dougie Hill on the bench. The Rovers brought in Jamie Watson, James Berry and Yaw Osei to start.
As tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday a minutes silence was faultlessly observed as two church clocks chimed three o’clock in the distance, tolling mournfully for those who never returned.
The game started quietly and the first ball into either box was an angled driven cross from Thomson that was over hit. A couple of minutes later the home side saw a more accurate cross headed goal ward but Smith was able to dive and collect easily. In the twelth minute Smith chose to punch a catchable ball and was clattered by Stewart, who was penalised. As the home side started to get more than their share of possession Thomson headed away another cross. Hutton was sitting in front of the home back four as Spence tried to push on, Lewis and Yaw were wide. Matthews and Herron in the middle of the park with Berry sitting a little deeper. It was clear that the Rovers were looking to play the ball on for Yaw to run onto but this never really came off with attempts being over hit or going out for throws. Perhaps the light breeze was a factor. Without this planned outlet the Rovers ended up being pushed back more than they would have wanted. The home side looked to capitalise and from a corner in the 18th minute took the lead. A corner ended up in front of goal and was scwaffed by an attacker but fell to Chris McLaughlin who dinked the ball into the corner of the net. The ball wasn’t travelling very quickly but was accurate enough to beat the diving Smith in the Rovers goal.
Walsh tried from long range rippling the roof of the Rovers net before Stewart ran thru on-side but his first touch meant he could only cross but nothing came of the corner. Vaughan perhaps encouraged by the wind behind him had a go long range from a free kick but didn’t test Gallacher in the home goal. In the 28th minute another home corner saw a block from Smith then a break up the other end which eventually saw Yaw’s shot blocked. Dumbarton from another corner saw McLaughlin headed over.
Herron showed persistence outnumbered to play in Matthews at the edge of the box but Ross put his shot over. Again the Rovers threatened carving their best chance of the first half on the break, Yaw at last was able to use his pace and cutting back sent a great ball across goal. Vaughan just missed it with the home keeper beaten and it flashed across goal. Rover football had broken out a period of sustained passing saw Thomson’s cross was headed over by Herron. From a Rovers corner a low delivery to the edge of the box found Spence in space but he skied his shot – sadly straight from the training ground to car park behind the goal.
There was a minor flashpoint in the 38th minute when Carswell blocked the ball on the ground and rather than be penalised for the obvious obstruction Herron tried to extricate the ball and words were exchanged. The referee spoke to both and oddly awarded the home side a free kick. As the half wound down Smith held a couple of shots and Murray did well to rob a Stewart who was about to pull the trigger after the ball fell to him in the box.
Within moments of the first half beginning an angled ball was contested by Davidson and Stewart. Davo went down and didn’t move as the ex-Rover headed for goal, short handed the Rovers defence in the shape of Murray blocked a shot and the ball was scrambled away. Davidson received treatment and hobbled back on not looking comfortable. In the 48th minute experience keeper Smith rolled a free kick short to the toiling Davidson who was caught out by the rapidly closing down Alistair Roy and robbed. The home man stepped forward and slotted the ball past Smith from the edge of the box to make it two nil. The situation was wholly avoidable and Davidson hobbled off replaced by Robertson at the back as Berry was replaced by Buchanan.
Dumbarton continued to push on and scored again in the 55th minute after a bit of six yard box pinball. The referee had however blown his whistle and after moments of confusion it became clear a penalty had been awarded and Spence was shown a straight red card for what was presumed to be hand ball. Walsh lined up to take the pen firing a poor effort to Smiths right but the stopper in part redeemed himself by diving low and blocking the ball away keeping the score at two nil.
McKay replaced Osei and Roberstson moved forward into his more accustomed midfield role. Initially the pattern of play continued, Gallagher firing over on the turn, but the Rovers despite being a man down managed to get more into the game. Murray played a good ball down the line and Thomson did well crossing low into the box where Buchanan’s clever dummy let Vaughan fire a low shot through a forest of legs and just wide as the keeper watched helpless. McKay looked assured at the back and intercepted reading the play well before finding Herron who played in Buchanan who went down in the box not that there looked much in it.
The Sons still threatened and Smith was adjudged to have touched over a rising Stewart effort which he didn’t seem to get near. Matthews did well wide sending in a cross that the home keeper seemed to ponder doing something about but his indecision was not punished – thankfully for him he wasn’t much tested during the ninety minutes. Vaughan shot weakly at him then a great Buchanan flick saw Lewis running at goal ahead of a defender – despite his scoring streak – he decided to square the ball to Buchanan but a defender nipped in and prevented probably our best chance of the half was gone.
Robertson was booked, to the consternation of some of the travelling support as the home side tried to hit on the break. Smith blocked another effort before it was at last the Rovers turn to threaten from a set piece and Vaughan’s low centre was blocked away. Buchanan played in Vaughan who was harshly adjudged to be offside as he slotted the ball home before the game ended preventing what would have been only the Rovers third corner.
Over the piece the Rovers were disappointing but the Irn Bru Cup has provided more positives than negatives with good performances and useful experience for a number of our talented youngsters in the shape of McKay, Watson, Berry and Osei. The focus will have already returned to the midweek League match.
© Eddie Doig 2017
RaithTV spoke with the Gaffer after the 2-0 defeat to Dumbarton
After securing the three points in the latest Fife derby of the season on Saturday, Rovers now face two cup ties in consecutive weekends, starting this Saturday at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium, with an Irn Bru Cup quarter-final tie against Dumbarton.
Steve Aitken’s side have continued to compound expectations in Scotland’s second-tier, with last week’s 1-0 win over Brechin City helping to keep them clear of the relegation spots in eighth, four points ahead of second bottom Falkirk, and a huge 11 ahead of bottom-of-the-table Brechin City.
There’s no shortage of familiar faces amongst the Dumbarton squad, with seven former Raith players amongst their ranks.
Their defence could feature Dougie Hill, Craig Barr and David Smith, whilst in midfield, Danny Handling and Craig Johnston could also start. Lastly, up-front, Aitken could start with a pairing of Christian Nade and Mark Stewart.
Dumbarton reached this stage with wins over the Rangers Development side (2-0,) Connah’s Quay Nomads (2-1,) and Stranraer (2-1), with this meeting the first cup-tie between the teams since a second-round Scottish Cup tie in the 2006/07 season, with the Sons running out 1-0 winners.
While that game was reasonably tight, that’s seems to be the exception rather than the norm between these two, with 56 goals scored in the last 16 meetings.
Raith have failed to win any of their last three games against Dumbarton, with their run of two defeats and a draw, their poorest sequence against the Sons since they lost five and drew one of six straight games across the 1982/83 and 83/84 seasons.
Despite that, they do have the upper-hand over the last ten meetings, with four wins and four draws from the last ten meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Gavin Duncan.
Head-to-Head Cup Record Versus Dumbarton:
Dumbarton Wins: 6 | Raith Rovers Wins: 7 | Draws: 2
Dumbarton Goals: 21 | Raith Rovers Goals: 21
Top Goal Scorers:
Dumbarton: Mark Stewart 4 | Dimitras Froxylias 3 | Craig Barr 2
Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 18 | Liam Buchanan 7 | Greig Spence 6
Dumbarton: 8/5 | Raith Rovers: 8/5 | Draw: 12/5