Run Goes On With Win Over Wasps
Raith Rovers retained their 100% home record this afternoon, with a 2-1 win over Alloa Athletic.
Two second-half goals from former Wasps, Greig Spence and Liam Buchanan sealed the points, and while a late goal from Kevin Cawley made the closing minutes far more edgy than Raith fans would have liked, the win was thoroughly merited.
Manager, Barry Smith made one change from last weekend’s 2-0 win over Queens’s Park, with John Herron dropping out the squad altogether, to be replaced by Dario Zanatta, who played a key role in that victory, after being introduced from the bench.
He started on the left-hand side, with Lewis Vaughan starting in the centre of midfield, in Herron’s absence
There were some impressive moves from Roary Rover in the build up to kick off, with the giant lion producing some surprisingly slick dance steps to a tracklist that had been picked by the Raith Development squad, which was heavily laden with dance music and grime.
There were probably slightly fewer decent moves in the opening phases of the game however.
Alloa were the first to threaten, with Graeme Smith rushing from his line in the opening few moments to punch away a cross, but it was a painful moment for Euan Murray, who required treatment after Smith clattered him in the process. With a rather lengthy injury list, it was a relief to see the stopper get back to his feet after some treatment.
There wasn’t too much to get excited about in the early passages of play. Neither side were creating anything particularly clear cut, and while Alloa were giving as good as they got, the home side were looking more comfortable in possession than they did the previous week.
Zanatta looked keen to get forward down the left, while Jamie Watson was demonstrating a willingness to do the same down the right, and while that was stretching the visitors to a degree, the final ball in was unfortunately lacking.
The Raith full back was having a severe test at the other end though, with PJ Crossan taking the ball around him twice in a matter of a few minutes.
The first occasion saw the winger fizz in a low, dangerous cross across goal, but the second chance was more dangerous, with Smith having to claw away his deflected effort for a corner.
The tame start to proceedings continued for the opening quarter, and it took until the 28th minute before Raith could muster a chance of note, when a stinging effort from Zanatta veered just past the left-hand post.
There was nothing tame about Steven Hetherington’s challenge a minute or so later however, with his ferocious tackle knocking the wind out of Vaughan, and creating a loud bellow of anger from the home fans.
He was fine to continue, but there was an enforced change after 35 minutes, when Ross Matthews was taken off with an injury, to be replaced by Bobby Barr.
With the more attack-minded Barr in place, it meant Rovers now had three forward thinking players in their midfield four, and while the thinking was that it would automatically lead to chances being created, it was Alloa who impressed most in the half’s closing moments.
Indeed, there was a scare in the 41st minute, when Crossan again evaded Watson before surging into the area, before eventually going down.
While there was contact, it looked too slight for the award of a penalty, although the Alloa man probably had understandable umbrage at being booked for diving, considering his fall looked genuine, rather than theatrical.
It was all looking a little similar to last week, and although Rovers were looking decent in fits and starts, they were again struggling to produce anything of note, with Neil Parry in the Alloa goals largely untested.
They did manage to conjure one up in the first few minutes of the second period, and what a gilt-edged one it was.
Barr sprung the offside trap, but after he was unable to take the ball cleanly around Parry, the ball fell kindly to the feet of Liam Buchanan, who could only blast the ball high over the crossbar.
Thankfully they didn’t have too long to rue the miss however, as the home side took the lead in the 54th minute.
Zanatta was the architect, brilliantly digging out a cross from the right which was ideally placed for Spence’s head, and he gleefully nodded home from close range to open the scoring.
It was exactly what the side, and indeed the game required, with Rovers looking far brighter since the interval.
Zanatta’s deliveries were starting to prove something of a nuisance to the Alloa defence, and his set piece was the next to cause consternation, although Dave McKay was unable to nod his effort on target.
While they were looking a little livelier up-front, Rovers were also doing a decent job of keeping Alloa at arm’s length, but of course, a second goal would give the team and fans a far larger degree of comfort, and that duly arrived in the 66th minute.
Vaughan played a neat one-two with Buchanan on the edge of the area, but after bursting through on goal, his shot from close range was parried by Parry, allowing Buchanan to score into the unguarded net.
The feeling at that stage was that Rovers should be able to see out the game comfortably, or even extend their lead, but Alloa really should have got back into it with fifteen minutes remaining, with a stramash in the Raith penalty area eventually being turned away by Scott Robertson, when it appeared certain that Alloa would reduce their arrears.
The game was almost put to bed in the 82nd minute, when Buchanan was able to whirl away from his marker on the edge of the area, but his powerful effort was driven just over the bar.
Anyone hoping for a straightforward conclusion to the match would be sadly mistaken however, as Alloa grabbed a goal with a little under five minutes remaining.
A corner was wickedly swung into the area, and with no-one reacting, appeared to strike the post, before Kevin Cawley steered it home from close range.
However, the Alloa fans hoping for a grandstand finish would leave disappointed, with Rovers safely seeing out the match, to stay within three points of league leaders Ayr United.
RaithTV chatted with Barry after the 2-1 win against Alloa
RaithTV chatted with Greig after the 2-1 win against Alloa
After a 2-0 success over Queen’s Park last weekend, Rovers will be hoping to make it two wins in two, when fourth place Alloa Athletic visitor to Stark’s Park this Saturday.
Jim Goodwin’s side goes into the match on the back of a 2-1 loss to Ayr United, but they’d been in recent fine-fettle until that point, with five successive wins across all competitions.
That sequence has seen them safely through to the next round of the Scottish Cup, where they’ll face Dundee United, and also rise up the League One table, where they now sit fourth, two points behind third-placed Arbroath.
The two teams last met on the opening day of this season, when it took a last-minute goal from Lewis Vaughan to salvage a 1-1 draw for Barry Smith’s men at the Indodrill Stadium.
Rovers have actually failed to win any of the last four meetings between the teams, with their last home win over The Wasps back in August 2015, when second-half goals from James Craigen, Craig Wighton and Mark Stewart eventually saw Rovers eventually ease to a 3-0 win.
Despite that sequence, Rovers have the upper-hand over the last ten meetings, with four wins and four draws, stretching back to 2014.
Saturday’s match referee will be Colin Steven.
Head-To-Head Home League Record:
Raith Rovers Wins: 28 | Alloa Athletic Wins: 8 | Draws: 11
Raith Rovers Goals: 113 | Alloa Athletic Goals: 56
Raith Rovers: D-W-L-L-L-W
Alloa Athletic: W-W-W-W-W-L
Top Goal Scorers:
Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 18 | Liam Buchanan 7 | Greig Spence 7
Alloa Athletic: Craig Malcolm 6 | Kevin Cawley 4 | Iain Flannigan 4
Raith Rovers: 3/5 | Alloa Athletic: 19/4 | Draw: 3/1