Raith See Off Sons
Raith Rovers left it late to snatch the win in this come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Dumbarton, in a game which saw the welcome return of Lewis Vaughan to both the team sheet and the scoresheet.
The forward was a second-half substitute, and he grabbed the match sealing fourth goal just a minute after Euan Murray had put Rovers ahead for the first time in the match in the 87th minute.
Dumbarton had deservedly led at the interval with two goals straddling a 13th minute equaliser from Daniel Armstrong, while Kevin Nisbet was the man to restore parity to proceedings with a little under half an hour remaining.
John McGlynn went with the same starting eleven which lost meekly at Montrose last time around, although there was the pleasant sight of Vaughan being considered fit enough to take a seat on the bench.
It was a scrappy start to proceedings with both sides struggling to put together too many consecutive passes, but Dumbarton raced into a lead after 10 minutes, with a quite extraordinary effort.
There seemed little danger when Ross Forbes picked up possession in the middle of the park, but after spotting that Robbie Thomson was off his line, he struck an incredible 50-yard effort past the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
To Raith’s credit however, they weren’t behind for long, and they struck back in the 13th minute, with a well worked goal of their own.
A quickly taken throw in saw Nisbet pick up possession by the corner flag, and after giving himself an angle, his excellent whipped in delivery was glanced home by Armstrong’s head to bring the scores level.
It had been a nervy looking performance from Raith in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, so the hope was the goal would give them a platform to build on, but it was the away side who continued to be in the ascendancy, with Thomson having to be alert to tip wide a low shot from Dom Thomas, after a powerful run from the on-loan winger.
The same player came close again from the resulting corner kick, when Raith failed to clear their lines despite being presented with a number of chances to do so, allowing Thomas another attempt at goal which was deflected over by a team-mate.
The home side almost took the lead in the 18th minute, when Armstrong burst down the right before cutting inside and curling an effort which looked to be heading just inside James McGowan’s right-hand post, only for the ‘keeper to get a fingertip to it and divert it wide.
Within a minute though, Rovers were behind again, when a low cross from Dumbarton’s right allowed Michael Paton to steer the ball home from close range.
It was almost three soon after, when Bobby Barr managed to tee up Calum Gallagher inside the area, but with his back to goal, the best he could do was backheel the ball towards goal, which would have trickled in if not for the intervention of Kyle Benedictus on the line.
The Rovers captain was involved at the other end of the park in the 25th minute, and he possibly should have done better than head his effort over the bar after a good delivery from a corner kick.
Nisbet then did exactly the same thing from an Armstrong delivery 10 minute later, but the home side were fortunate not to be further behind as the interval approached, when Benedictus’ header back to Thomson was a little short, and although the Rovers custodian got to it, he elected to come out feet first, with the ball rebounding off him before eventually being cleared for a corner, which Thomas eventually shot over from.
It was going to take a far better performance in the second half from Raith to preserve their unbeaten home record, and they had a good chance to equalise right at the start of it, when Armstrong’s corner found the head of Nisbet, but again his effort was over the bar.
Rovers were looking brighter in this half, although they could have left themselves an even bigger uphill challenge when Barr found himself inside the penalty area, but his attempt was well blocked by a sliding challenge from Benedictus.
Dumbarton would rue that miss, as Rovers were level in the 63rd minute, with a goal that was both well worked, and somewhat fortuitous.
Liam Buchanan took in a Thomson goal kick and set up Nathan Flanagan down the left-hand side, and while his low cross found Nisbet inside the penalty area, he initially appeared to miscontrol the ball, which deceived McGowan, allowing it to squirm past him and into the net.
Neither defence had looked particularly comfortable all day, but it was Dumbarton’s that was looking increasingly unsteady as the match wore on.
They were caught out by a ball over the top which Buchanan strode onto, but although his shot was on target, the angle was against hm and McGowan was able to save with his foot.
With 20 minutes remaining, Vaughan made his return from injury by replacing Buchanan, and he was involved straight away, gathering up possession before feeding Armstrong, whose crossshot was tipped away by McGowan.
With time ticking away, it looked like Rovers were going to be falling 15 points behind Arbroath, but they took the lead in the 87th minute, with another unusual finish.
A Rovers free-kick seemed to have fizzled out, but Armstrong picked up possession on the right-hand side, and his cross found Murray, who appeared to be doing his best just to keep the ball in play, but his hooked shot across goal bypassed McGowan and into the net to give Raith the lead for the first time.
It was four just a minute later, when Vaughan pounced on some sloppy defending on the edge of the box, and with Wille Dyer backing off him, he needed no further invitation to slam the ball home from twelve yards.
It was a vital win as Rovers attempt to chase down Arbroath and they’ll likely need a similar outcome at Gayfield next weekend in the top-of-the-table clash.
© Eddie Doig 2018
Raith Rovers Assistant Manager Paul Smith spoke to RaithTV after the 4-2 win against Dumbarton
A returning Lewis Vaughan spoke to Raith TV after the 4-2 win against Dumbarton
After the disappointment of last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Montrose, Rovers will hope to get back to winning ways this Saturday with a home fixture against Dumbarton.
The Sons will have a different manager in the dugout from when the two sides last faced off in September, with Jim Duffy taking charge after the departure of Steve Aitken.
The former Stranraer boss had been at Dumbarton since 2015, but following relegation from the Championship last term and a sluggish start to League One this season, his tenure come to an end in October.
The Sons form has still been inconsistent of late, but three wins and a draw from their last six league games has lifted them to eighth in the table, and while that’s still a low position, the tightness of the division means they’re just three points outside the promotion playoff places.
The first meeting between the sides in September could barely have went better for Raith, with Rovers a goal up after 22 seconds and four up after 40 minutes, in a match which ended up a 5-1 victory in what was John McGlynn’s first game in charge in his second spell at the club.
Lewis Vaughan handed Rovers the early advantage, before a brace from Nathan Flanagan and a strike from Kevin Nisbet handed McGlynn’s men a huge advantage a huge advantage before half-time, with Liam Buchanan completed the scoring in the second period.
That was the last occasion Dumbarton lost at home in the league, and it’s their away form which has hindered them this term, with just four points secured on their travels, the fewest by any side in the third tier.
Rovers hold the upper-hand in this meeting in recent years, but only just, with four wins and three draws from the last ten meetings between the two.
Saturday’s match referee will be Barry Cook.
Head-To-Head Home League Record Versus Dumbarton:
Raith Rovers Wins: 36 |Dumbarton Wins: 12 | Draws: 11
Raith Rovers Goals: 124 | Dumbarton Goals: 71
Raith Rovers: W-L-W-W-W-L | Dumbarton: L-W-L-L-W-D
Top Goal Scorers:
Raith Rovers: Kevin Nisbet 19 | Liam Buchanan 8
Dumbarton: Calum Gallagher 6 | Ross Forbes 5
Raith Rovers: 5/6 | Dumbarton: 29/20 | Draw: 13/5