Raith Hit Five Against Stenny
Raith Rovers made it a happy new year for the Lang Toun faithful with a comprehensive 5-1 win against table-footing, first -footing Stenhousemuir at Stark’s Park this afternoon.
John McGlynn’s men had enjoyed wins against The Warriors in the first two games between the sides this season, and would have been confident of making it three on the bounce prior to kick-off despite last week’s disappointing derby loss against East Fife. That they did so with style was a particularly welcome way to see in 2019.
The Rovers starting eleven saw two changes from last weekend, with Calum Crane and Lewis Vaughan lining up in place of Ross Matthews and Nathan Flanagan. Grant Gillespie was restored to his natural midfield berth, having filled in at right-back of late. The visitors included former Rovers midfielder Mark Ferry in their side.
An eventful opening half was only three minutes old when Rovers striker Kevin Nisbet pounced on a loose ball and dragged the ball wide of keeper Graeme Smith before slicing his shot high into the side-net with the goal gaping. The youngster needed treatment following his efforts, and within a few minutes he succumbed to his injury, making way for Chris Duggan – it was a change which frustrated the home crowd, as a full three minutes passed between Nisbet leaving the field and Duggan entering the fray, as the ball stubbornly refused to make its way out of play and the home side soldiered on with ten men.
Restored to a full complement, Rovers pressed forward, and dogged work by Lewis Vaughan down the left wing saw a chance fall to Daniel Armstrong, though the playmaker’s shot flew over the bar. Stenny responded with an attack of their own, and won a free-kick on the edge of the Rovers box thanks to a loose pass by Nat Wedderburn. However, Jesus Tena’s attempt was blocked by a resolute wall.
In their next foray forward, Rovers took the lead with quarter of an hour played. A corner kick – their first of the match – was initially cleared, but Armstrong was quick to regain the ball and his cut-back was met with a firm shot by Iain Davidson which found the far corner of the net. A minute later, Rovers’ fortunes improved further when the visitors were reduced to ten men. Liam Buchanan’s pass sent Duggan through with a clear run on goal, but he was fouled by Conor McBrearty, leaving referee Grant Irvine with little option but to brandish a red card.
Not that Colin McMenamin’s men were quite ready to feel sorry for themselves. Within two minutes, parity was restored when a deep, innocuous-looking cross into the Rovers box was met with a looping header by Sebastian Ross which found the net off the inside of the far post.
Chris Duggan was then denied a goal with a fine close-range block, before Wedderburn saw a low drive from outside the box touched round the post by the diving Smith. This, however, signalled Rovers’ intent, and with half an hour played they regained the lead. In an attempt to thwart another Rovers attack, Smith dashed from his line but his miscued clearance fell invitingly for Gillespie, who advanced into the box and drove a low shot into the net.
Rovers’ tails were up now, and they pushed forward at every opportunity, pinning Stenny back up the pitch. Armstrong, pulling the strings from every conceivable angle, left his marker for dead before unleashing a shot from a tight angle which whistled past the upright.
Before long, however, Rovers extended their lead with a well-worked goal. From a corner kick, the ball fell to Lewis Vaughan, who swivelled and floated a deep cross into the heart of the penalty area. Euan Murray was quickest to react, and his firm header from eight yards found the roof of the net.
The fans in the Penman Family stand were still celebrating the two-goal cushion when Rovers scored their fourth goal, effectively putting the match beyond their opponents before half time. Following good work down the right wing, the ball fell invitingly for Vaughan, who lashed a low shot into the net with the minimum of fuss.
As the sides emerged for the second period, a Rovers goals avalanche was perhaps on the cards, and Vaughan should have made it five within a minute of the restart when put through one on one with the keeper, though Smith thwarted the striker’s attempted lob with a smart save.
However, Chris Duggan did score Rovers’ fifth goal five minutes later, when he clipped a shot over the advancing Smith from six yards. The goalkeeper was injured in the collision, and had to be replaced between the sticks by Lewis McMinn.
As could perhaps be expected of a side 5-1 to the good against ten men, Rovers largely monopolised possession and created a series of chances over the course of the second half, though they struggled to increase their lead against a side whose ambitions extended little further than damage limitation. Shots rained down on McMinn with alarming frequency, to the extent that, were this a boxing match, the referee would have called an end to proceedings long before the end. Buchanan and Gillespie went close with shots before free-kicks by Armstrong and Vaughan landed on the top of the net with the substitute keeper a pleading spectator.
Alan Cook earned the first caution of the game with twenty minutes left for a trip on Armstrong, and then had to be thankful to his keeper for a smart save from Davidson’s header from the resultant free-kick. Lewis Milne was then introduced for Rovers for Wedderburn, before Duggan was unfortunate to see his smart shot from 18 yards smack back off the post. Liam Buchanan was then replaced by Nathan Flanagan.
For all their continued efforts, Rovers could not add to their goal tally over the closing minutes. In truth, Vaughan should have done better than screw a shot into the side-net from inside the six-yard box, and a long-range floated effort from Armstrong brushed the crossbar, but goal number six proved elusive.
Nobody tried harder to address that than Duggan, but for all the striker found the net twice in the closing minutes, on each occasion the celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag. Stenhousemuir then ran down the clock on a difficult afternoon with a couple of slow substitutions, and a touch of time-wasting by McMinn which attracted the wrath of the referee.
There was just enough time left to confirm Grant Gillespie as man of the match – richly deserved for an energetic and creative performance in the middle of the park – and acknowledge the 38 away fans who had made the post-festive trip east.
In truth, for all Rovers were comfortable winners this afternoon, based on the number of chances created they could and possibly should have won by an even greater margin, though few could complain with five goals, which represents a positive reaction to last week’s defeat.
Pace-setters Arbroath continue to enjoy a stubbornly healthy lead at the league summit, but McGlynn’s men will hopefully reduce the deficit over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, a tricky fixture on the road at Airdrie awaits next week before the Pars visit on much-anticipated Scottish Cup duty.
Raith Rovers Manager John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV following the 5-1 win against Stenhousemuir
Raith Rovers striker Chris Duggan spoke to RaithTV following the 5-1 win against Stenhousemuir
It’s the first fixture of 2019 this Saturday, with Stenhousemuir the first footers at Stark’s Park, as Raith Rovers look to start the new year in finer fettle than they ended the last.
Last weekend’s defeat to East Fife saw them fall 11 points behind Arbroath, but they’ll be looking to start a winning run against a side they have a 100% record against this term.
This will be the third meeting against the sides this term, with the first coming back in August at Stark’s Park, when a Kevin Nisbet brace was enough to seal all three points for the home side in a 2-0 win.
The last meeting also saw Rovers prevail by a two-goal margin, although they had to repel a fightback from the Warriors in the second period.
Daniel Armstrong opened the scoring in the 11th minute, before Calum Crane doubled the advantage in the 58th. Any thoughts Rovers would be able to coast towards all three points were scuppered midway through the second period though, when Mark McGuigan reduced the arrears. However, a last minute goal from Armstrong saw Rovers seal the win.
Like Rovers, Stenny have changed their manager during the season, with Brown Ferguson being relieved of his duties in November, with Colin McMenamin being brought in as a replacement.
The new man has found wins hard to come by though, with just one win in his seven league games in charge since taking over.
He did preside over one of their best ever results in that time though, with an excellent 4-2 win over Falkirk in the Scottish Cup, their first win over their local rivals at Ochilview since 1961.
They were seconds away from going into this one on the back of a win, as they went into stoppage time of their last outing against Dumbarton leading 2-1, only for Ross Forbes to score his second outstanding free-kick of the afternoon to snatch a point for the Sons at the death.
That result left Stenhousemuir bottom of the table, but level on points with Brechin City, and three points behind eighth placed Dumbarton.
Rovers have a good record in this one, with eight wins and two defeats from the last 10 meetings, and there generally is a winner in this one, with no draw between the teams since 1984.
Saturday’s match referee will be Grant Irvine.
Head-To-Head Home League Record Versus Stenhousemuir:
Raith Rovers Wins: 22 | Stenhousemuir Wins: 6 | Draws: 5
Raith Rovers Goals: 84 | Stenhousemuir Goals: 32
Raith Rovers: W-W-L-W-W-L
Top Goal Scorers:
Raith Rovers: Kevin Nisbet 20 | Liam Buchanan 9 | Daniel Armstrong 5 | Lewis Vaughan 5
Stenhousemuir: Mark McGuigan 10 | Alan Cook 2
Raith Rovers: 4/9 | Stenhousemuir: 11/2 | Draw: 18/5