Draw Dents Davo’s Day
Intrepid Raith fans headed north in decent numbers to Arbroath on a less than spring like overcast day. With Vaughan sidelined by suspension and Spence dropping to the bench Furtado and Buchanan came in to lead the line. Iain Davidson retained his place to make his 400th Rovers appearance.
Arbroath had a couple of ex-Rovers in their line Mark Whatley captaining the hosts and Ryan McCord on the bench. The home side were looking to strengthen their position for the run in as were the Rovers.
In the opening moments Davidson mopped up a foray into the Raith box – something he has done a fair few times over the years. The Rovers won a corner in the sixth minute which Thomson recycled into the danger zone but it didn’t quite reach Buchanan.
Noise from the travelling fans encouraged the men in blue and Scott Robertson did well finding Bobby Barr wide who’s centre was hit first time by Buchanan. Liam’s well struck effort was sadly at the goalkeeper. Down the other end Arbroath’s first corner was whistled dead for a foul. Following which the referee Stephen Finnie had a wee chat with Whatley.
Deft touches from Regan Hendry – who displayed his abilities throughout – in the 19th minute set up Barr who put in a dangerous cross that the home keeper Hutton claimed well in the six yard box. A home break culminated in Swankie hitting a low volley into the side netting.
Aaron Lennox appeared to slip taking the bye kick and seemed to be struggling when a home man got onto a ball over the top putting a low effort past the post. Lennox was a disappointed figure as he gingerly left the field and was replaced by Graeme Smith in the 23rd minute. Next, good interplay was cut out by Murray conceding a corner. At the other end Barr and Hendry combined again wide but the ball in wasn’t knocked home.
Viewers could see as the game went on the Red Lichties were pushing their line well up the park compacting the play and making it harder for Furtado to get into dangerous areas despite his best efforts. With neither side having taken control Davidson did well closing down and blocking an effort from McIntosh just inside the box.
Into the box from a throw in Buchanan hit the bye-line and Furtado’s touch played in Robertson who’s effort from sixteen yards was high and not so handsome. Up the other end a deep cross found no takers as some home fans feebly appealed for a foul no-one saw. Thomson slipped closing down McIntosh wide and seeking to capitalise Wallace headed across goal and past the post.
Down in the box went Buchanan after Furtado played him in. Home man O’Brien was booked for his clumsy challenge. Liam Buchanan got up dusted himself off and put the penalty to the Hutton’s right as the man between he sticks went to his left. 0:1
Seeking an equaliser Arbroath won a corner in the 42nd minute and a back post header fell for McKenna whose shot went up and over the bar. Matthews didn’t manage to get a shot off after Furtado did well wide before the hosts Wallace was the next to be spoken to by Finnie for being overly keen on physical play. The half ended after a reporters nightmare, namely a flurry of activity in the home box as good pressing and some desperate defending prevented Rovers from getting a shot away. A good ball back in eventually fell to Hendry but his low effort from just inside the box was claimed by the diving Hutton.
Over the PA at the half it said the Airdrie v Ayr game was all square. Furtado’s shot after Bene’s pass was too close to Hutton before Murray was not spoken to but booked for a minor transgression. Barr had a go that had Hutton at full stretch diving to his side but the effort went wide before Swankie was next home man to be spoken to but not carded.
No whistle stopped play despite Benedictus going down with a head knock following a challenge from McIntosh who contested a ball on the six yard line moments later leaving Davidson nursing a sore napper as well. The visiting support were not at all keen on play having continued as both physio’s dashed on to tend the prone team mates.
Raith’s back four were in front of the travelling fans and it was clear that they were not pushing on as much as the hosts leaving more space in the middle third of the park. Buchanan was flattened as he tried to receive the ball in the box by what appeared to be a heavy foul in the 56th minute but no penalty was awarded.
Over enthusiasm tested the home ball boys when Gold closed down Thomson and the ball deflected up and over the terracing out of the ground and possibly onto the beach where it will have needed to be grabbed before it was at the mercy of the North Sea.
Very much more threatening Thomson got to the corner of the home box but shot wide. Yule was replaced by Ryan McCord who reduced the space in the middle of the park.
Either side put balls in the box but Barr’s then a second ball from a man in maroon both ended up with the respective keepers. More pressing from the men in blue didn’t add to their lead as the game entered the final quarter. Iain Davidson almost added to his tally of Rovers goals with a moment of real quality, he moved onto a corner outside the box volleying acrobatically and with real venom goalwards. But the unfortunate Jason Thomson couldn’t quite duck out quick enough to avoid deflecting the ball over to safety. If it had gone in it wouldn’t just have been Davo’s best goal it would have been one of the best goals in the 400 games he’s played for us.
Replacement for Gold was Skelly as the home side tried to get back into the game. Barr was booked – it appeared on the say so of home players – for kicking the ball away following a curious free kick decision. It was more likely to have however been brought to the attention of Finnie by the linesmen. Following the (soft at best) free kick that annoyed Bobby, Arbroath won a corner and a low ball in was touched on to the edge of the six yard box where Leighton McIntosh showed good technique to volley home. 1:1
Surprised fans looked on three minutes later when a raised boot trying to cut out a ball in the air was adjudged to be a fifteen yard, intentional pinpoint pass back to Graeme Smith… Thankfully McCord’s effort from 11 yards was blocked by the massed ranks of Rovers and it didn’t hand the Red Lichties the lead.
Leaving the field Barr’s place was taken by Greig Spence pushing on. However, the next action saw Smith block a snap shot from four yards with his face but the unusual tactic did the job! Ricky Little was booked for dissent before Wallace was replaced by Kader who’s methods were less abrasive.
Eighty three minutes saw one of the best chances of the match when Matthews and Furtado combined finding Buchanan in space who managed to fire wide from the middle of the goal no more than eight yards out.
Gambling with action from the referee, McIntosh was penalised again but without his name being taken.
Encouraging play saw Buchanan tee up Spence but Greig was just offside, before Court came on for Matthews.
Normal time over the last chance was another for the Rovers when Spence put a header past without knowing there were two colleagues behind him ready to pounce. The final whistle saw a disappointing result not just for quadruple century man Davo but the rest of the Rovers supporters far and wide…
Don’t think the first letter of each paragraph is a fluke… Cheers Davo, here’s to a few more games to add to your very impressive total.
Photo Gallery will appear here shortly
Rovers manager Barry Smith spoke to RaithTV after the match at Gayfield
With just four fixtures remaining and the difference between themselves and Ayr United still sitting at three points, Raith Rovers know a win is vital against Arbroath at Gayfield this weekend.
Rovers head into the game on the back of three straight wins, but they’ll have their work cut out to make it four, against a side which sits just two places behind them, and have scored just as many League One goals as them this term.
However, Arbroath have picked up more points on the road than at home this term, with 30 of their 52 point haul coming on their travels.
While Rovers hold the whip hand in this fixture down the years, it’s generally a close affair, a fact that’s highlighted by the statistic that only on two occasions in the last 27 meetings, has a side scored more than two goals in a game between the pair.
Raith won 2-0 in the first meeting in October, through goals from Lewis Vaughan and Jason Thomson, and they prevailed the last time they visited Gayfield too, with Greig Spence and Liam Buchanan putting the away side two up, only for a Ross Matthews goal to reduce the arrears in the second period. Despite incessant Arbroath pressure, Rovers hung on for the win.
It was a different story at the end of February though, when a last minute Leighton McIntosh goal saw Raith squander two vital points in the race for the title with a 2-2 draw.
Thomson had given Rovers the lead just before the interval, and although Willis Furtado had fired Rovers back in front after a Ryan Wallace penalty, the late drama cost the Stark’s Park side all three points.
Raith do have a good record in this fixture, with five wins and four draws from their last ten meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Stephen Finnie.
Head-To-Head Away Record Versus Arbroath:
Arbroath Wins: 13 | Draws: 3 | Raith Rovers Wins: 15
Arbroath Goals: 54 | Raith Rovers Goals: 53
Raith Rovers: D-L-L-W-W-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Arbroath: Danny Denholm 11, Ryan McCord 9, Ryan Wallace 7
Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 22, Greig Spence 13, Liam Buchanan 12
Arbroath: 2/1 | Draw: 5/2 | Raith Rovers: 13/10