Four Goals In Comfortable Win
Raith Rovers won their first league match since January 5th, with a surprisingly straightforward 4-1 win over Montrose.
First half goals from Kevin Nisbet and Euan Murray had Raith two ahead at the interval, and Liam Buchanan made it three shortly after the break.
Andrew Steeves gave the Links Park side some hope with 25 minutes remaining, but on-loan Ayr player, Chris McGuffie completed the scoring in the closing stages.
Manager John McGlynn made just two changes from the side which went down 1-0 to Arbroath last weekend.
The goalkeeper rotation continued, with Robbie Thomson coming in for Dean Lyness, while Liam Buchanan replaced the injured Kyle Benedictus.
Iain Davidson had also been expected to miss out after being substituted at half-time last weekend, but he started at centre-half alongside Euan Murray, with Grant Gillespie moving to right-back.
After the poor form of recent weeks, Rovers fans were hoping for a good start to this one, and they weren’t left disappointed, as the hosts took the lead from the penalty spot in just the second minute.
A mix up at the back saw the ball just being deflected away from Montrose goalkeeper, Allan Fleming, and after he failed to gather cleanly, he was adjudged to have brought down Nisbet, allowing the same player to dispatch the penalty to the ‘keeper’s left, with Fleming choosing right.
The forward looked sharp in the game’s opening moments, and he almost pounced upon another mistake in the 8th minute, when a short pass back to Fleming forced the custodian into action, but he gathered the ball up a split second before Nisbet could get there.
Goal aside, it was a frustrating opening 20 minutes or so, with several promising attacking situations being wasted by forward passes that were being sprayed too far ahead of their intended recipient, meaning too many potential opportunities were withering on the vine.
Montrose were starting to impose themselves a little more, and they had their first attempt at goal in the 23rd minute, when a corner was cleared to the edge of the area, and with the ball being looped back into the area, and Graham Webster should possibly have done a little better than head an effort too close to Thomson.
Neither goalkeeper had had too much to do in the first half hour, but Fleming had to be alert to get down to his left to tip away a Callum Crane drive after the left-back had done well to get forward and fashion a chance for himself, then Buchanan tried a first-time attempt soon after, but his aim was a little less true, as he crashed a shot into the side-netting.
Rovers were building up momentum however, and they doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute, when a Flanagan cross to the back post was kept alive by Nat Wedderburn, and his dinked cross into the area was steered past Fleming by the head of Murray for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Rovers had their tails up now, and they should have made it 3-0 a moment later, when a fine move ended with Tony Dinwall finding Nisbet in bags of room at the back post, but despite having time to bring the ball down and pick his spot, he fancied his chances with a volley, which he blasted high into the McDermid Stand.
The majority of the match was now flowing towards Fleming, but Thomson was forced into a save in the 38th minute, excellently tipping away a Martin Rennie header after the Montrose forward was found in the box by Ian Campbell’s cross from the right.
Crane was impressing down the left-hand-side, and his low cross found Nisbet, whose shot from close range was crowded out, as Rovers ended the half on top.
While the first half had kicked off in bright sunshine, the heavens had opened for the start of the second, as Rovers looked to finish the game early, starting on the front foot, with Montrose struggling to get out their own half during its formative stages.
As such, there was no surprise when it became 3-0 in the 55th minute.
Again, Dingwall was the architect, sending in a low cross which eventually found its way to Buchanan, but despite not appearing to catch his shot cleanly, it wrong-footed Fleming, who allowed the ball to squeeze inside his right-hand post to give Buchanan his 10th goal of the season.
With less than half-an-hour remaining and Rovers still pushing for more, it looked very much like a case of damage limitation for the visitors, but they reduced the arrears with a goal out the blue, when Andrew Steeves blasted past Thomson from 20 plus yards, to suddenly set up a potentially nervy closing quarter.
Any concerns could have been assuaged in the 74th minute, when a quickly taken Montrose free-kick went completely awry, allowing Nisbet a clear run on goal after skipping over a challenge, but his shot was battered away by Fleming who had spread himself well.
John McGlynn had shuffled things around in the closing stages, bringing on Kiean Bowie and Craig McGuffie for Buchanan and Nathan Flanagan, and it was the latter of the substitutes who ended the game as a contest, as his ambitious shot from wide on the right took a deflection and looped over Fleming and into the net to restore Rovers three goal advantage.
With the game now over as a contest, Rovers were able to see out the game comfortably, with the result meaning eight points now separate Raith in second and Montrose in fifth.
Raith TV talked to John McGlynn after the 4-1 win against Montrose
Raith Rovers entertain Montrose this Saturday, with both sides aiming to finish in the playoff spots.
Rovers are now second only on goal difference from Forfar Athletic, with East Fife just two points behind, but fifth placed Montrose are just five points behind Rovers, and a win for Stewart Petrie’s men would make things extremely tight in the race for a top four finish.
The Mo’ go into the game in fine fettle, with just two defeats in their last eight league games, and their performances this term have been one of the surprises of the season, with many tipping them as the favourites to go straight back down at the end of the season.
A run of just two wins from their opening 10 League One fixtures seemed to confirm those early predictions, but since October they’ve been one of the division’s form sides, and are now very much looking up, rather than down the table.
Rovers have yet to beat Montrose this season, taking just one point from the two matches.
The first at Stark’s Park in February saw the teams tied at one apiece, with Rovers reliant on an Iain Campbell own goal to rescue a point.
Montrose recorded heir first win over Rovers in over 30 years in December, despite Daniel Armstrong giving Rovers the lead in just the third minute.
Top scorer, Martin Rennie brought the scores level after 10 minutes, and Craig Johnston handed the home side a second half advantage, only for Kevin Nisbet to being the scores level again with 15 minutes remaining.
However, just five minutes later, Ross Campbell steered the ball home to seal a 3-2 win for the Gable Endies.
Despite those results, Rovers have a good record in this fixture, with seven wins and two draws from the last ten meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Mike Roncone.
Head-To-Head Home League Record Versus Montrose:
Raith Rovers Wins: 15 | Montrose Wins: 3 | Draws: 7
Raith Rovers Goals: 58 | Montrose Goals: 23
Raith Rovers: D-W-L-D-L-L | Montrose: L-L-D-W-L-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Raith Rovers: Kevin Nisbet 21 | Liam Buchanan 9 | Lewis Vaughan 9
Montrose: Martin Rennie 10 | Euan Henderson 4 | Craig Johnston 4
Raith Rovers: 3/4 | Montrose: 16/5 | Draw: 3/1