Rovers Spring Forward with Airdrie Win
Having gone four games without a win a trip to Airdrie who had only lost one home League game all season may have worried some. The sun was out and the pitch looked like it was freshly cut but was of course uniform plastic.
A change in line up saw Vaughan and Furtado up front with Hendry and the returning Robertson behind them in midfield. Barr and Matthews were wide and the established back four of Thomson, Davidson, Benedictus and Murray protecting the orange clad Lennox.
The hosts had Dale Carrick and Ryan Conroy in their starting eleven who will remember their parts in a Raith Cup win at Ibrox for different reasons.
On a still day the small fun fair that had set up next to the ground meant that random music wafted across the park now and again – thankfully no smells of candy floss or cheeseburgers similarly assaulted the senses. As the Rovers fans commented on the line up they saw a cross into their box in front of them cleared by bleached blonde Davidson.
Furtado then ran at his former teammates and shot well wide before a Raith free kick lead to a corner that was defended. Furtado closed down a home defender and his eagerness was rewarded with a cheap corner. Playing the ball in low Willis found Matthews who’s deft flick up and into the six yard box has headed on by Thomson, dropping in front of Lewis Vaughan who reacted quickest rifling home from five yards. It was, to be frank, a really well worked goal whether from the training ground or not the Rovers were up 0:1
Home number 6 Luke Watt had a go from 23 yards but it went wide. He had used the ball well in previous meetings and was keen to do so again often being found by team mates hoping he could craft an opportunity. As the Rovers pushed on a defender and the home keeper got in a fankle but the custodian punched the needless corner away to safety.
A harmless bounce ball in the middle of the pitch was to prove costly when Vaughan won it and skipped away from Watt who needlessly and cynically hacked him down. Stood but a yard away the referee rightly showed the home man a yellow card – despite Watt’s continued moaning about the decision.
Robertson played a really good pass into the box for Vaughan and from the resulting corner Jason Thomson rose unhindered to power a header past the helpless keeper from 6 yards. A good twenty minutes saw the Rovers 0:2 ahead and the home side were already facing a rare home reverse.
The 24th minute saw the Diamonds first corner but a foul on a Raith man removed any danger. A home effort went wide around the half hour and Barr and Matthews had switched sides as the Rovers continued to look dangerous, remaining the better side.
O’Neill was carded for taking out a running Matthews and Vaughan’s great delivery found Furtado arriving in the corner of the six yard box. Rising well his powerful header hit the bar but went over rather than nestle in the net for a third. It looked as if that going in would hit the home side hard as they struggled to contain the visitors.
Watt annoyed the large and vocal Rovers support throwing himself to the ground in front of them, rightly ignored – the Rovers broke up field but to no effect. His defensive colleagues nearly handed Vaughan another goal when unaccountably he was played in by a home man with just one defender to beat. Lewis did well to fire in a shot but the keeper just did better blocking it and the ball was scrambled away.
Clearly not enjoying their day Brown was the next host booked for a rant about how a foul he’d committed apparently wasn’t. Moments later Higgins blatant foul on Furtado didn’t see the defenders name taken but Vaughan was booked for a needless foul on an Airdrie man who was trying to get forward.
At the half the hosts were no doubt keener to head for some candy floss and a go on the waltzers than the Rovers support. The home side however had other ideas and from the kick off it was clear that ex-Rover Ryan Conroy who had hardly had the ball in the first half had moved further forward. He got to the Rovers by-line and his cross found Scott Stewart who did well to win a header and put the ball into the side of the net leaving Lennox helpless. 1:2 was not what the visitors had planned for the re-start but Furtado and Vaughan showed they were still up for it combining before Willis’s effort was saved.
Lennox dealt well with a cross after which Carrick needed treatment – the other ex-Rover wasn’t having a good day and despite his persistence nothing really worked out for him.
Furtado broke again – he looked dangerous throughout – and from a corner the second ball into the box saw Thomson stretching head wide as he looked to double his tally.
By the hour O’Neil and Brown had both been penalised for a foul each despite their earlier cards, but to be honest neither had merited further action. Davidson up for a corner laid the ball off first time to Vaughan who’s shot was powerful but at the keeper.
Iain Davidson was booked moments later rising cleanly winning a header before his head met that of a home man going for the ball. There was clearly no intent and Davo was unlucky to be booked for minor accidental contact. The Rovers passed up another opportunity when Furtado – yes him again – did well dashing forward and as the keeper came to narrow the angle Willis’s low pass into the path of the on-rushing Vaughan somehow eluded him. After such a let off the home side changed formation again with Ross Brown removed and Jake Hastie coming on. Two men up front however didn’t stop another go from Furtado, Murray going down in the home box and Matthews and Barr combining nicely to win a corner.
John Herron was warmed up and ready to come on for a couple of minutes and saw Robertson booked for a foul just before he replaced him. Again Scott had showed his abilities in the usual quiet but very effective way. 4
Adam Brown came on for the home side replacing Cammy Russell. As time wound down Barr was booked for a failed attempt to foul a home man before Scott Stewart used space and time badly to smack a cross shot wide.
The home number 3, MacDonald, was booked for a bad foul on Vaughan or for dissent following the whistle, one or the other. Hendry who put in a good shift despite no previous name check in this report shot wide first time from about 27 yards before a glancing header by Thomson at the back post removed any danger from the home side’s last foray forward.
The game ended on a sour note for the home side when Watt – who clearly is relied upon by Airdrie to use his good range of passing – committed a rash foul which merited a second yellow card. His finger pointing in the face of the official while lambasting the correct decision didn’t do him any favours before he trudged off the park to be followed a minute or two later by the rest of the players.
As spring – perhaps – arrives the Rovers have more than steadied the ship with a good win that could have been even more comfortable. It wasn’t just the clocks that took a leap forward this weekend.
© Eddie Doig 2018
RaithTV spoke with the Manager after the win against Airdrieonians
Raith Rovers head to The Excelsior Stadium to take on Airdrie this Saturday, knowing that victory is essential as they look to stay on the coat tails of Ayr United at the summit of League One.
Rovers now sit six points behind Ayr having played a game fewer than The Honest Men, and with just seven games remaining, every point is a prisoner as Barry Smith’s team aims to bounce back to the second tier at the first time of asking..
Taking all three on offer will be a big ask this weekend though, against an Airdrie team who have lost just once at home this season, back in September to East Fife, and have already taken a point from Rovers with a 2-2 draw at the same venue back in December.
That game saw Raith take the lead through Greig Spence, only to fall behind after responses from Jake Hastie and Cammy Russell. Only a stoppage time own goal from Jordan McGregor prevented The Diamonds from notching up a win.
The first meeting was back in September, when late goals from Jason Thomson and Dario Zanatta secured a 2-0 win, while the last fixture between the pair ended as a 2-1 win for Raith, with Willis Furtado and Lewis Vaughan replaying to an opener from Airdrie’s Dale Carrick.
Raith Rovers have won six and drawn one of the last ten meetings between the sides, with their last defeat to Airdrie coming back in August 2011, in a League Cup second round tie.
Saturday’s match referee will be Gavin Duncan.
Head-To-Head Away League Record At Airdrie:
Airdrie Wins: 3 | Raith Rovers Wins: 3 | Draws: 5
Airdrie Goals: 10 | Raith Rovers Goals: 14
Raith Rovers: W-W-D-D-L-L
Top Goal Scorers:
Airdrie: Willis Furtado 6 | Ryan Conroy 5 | Cammy Russell 5
Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 21 | Greig Spence 13 | Liam Buchanan 12
Airdrie: 13/5 | Raith Rovers: 21/20 | Draw: 5/2