Rovers End Campaign With Draw
Raith Rovers ended their league campaign with a 1-1 draw with Montrose this afternoon, a result which confirmed their third place finish in the table.
Graham Webster had given the home side the lead after 10 minutes, but Craig McGuffie levelled the scores just 10 minutes later, and while Rovers were in the acendency for the bulk of the match from that point on, they couldn’t grab a winner.
The result means that Raith will be at home to Forfar Athletic in the first leg of the playoffs on Tuesday evening, with the second leg taking place at Station Park next Saturday.
With one eye on those fixtures, manager John McGlynn chose to rest five players from last weekend’s win over Brechin, with Iain Davidson, Kyle Benedictus, Jamie Barjonas, Liam Buchanan and Kevin Nisbet all dropping out.
They made way for Euan Murray, Nat Wedderburn, Grant Gillespie, Jamie Watson and 16-year-old Kieron Bowie, who made his first senior start for the club.
It may have been a much changed Rovers side, but the defending for Montrose’s goal was sadly typical.
A long punt up the park from goalkeeper Allan Fleming found Webster in acres of space on Rovers left-hand side, and while Callum Crane was able to get across, he was easily sold a dummy by Webster, who cut inside and curled an effort through a ruck of players and past Dean Lynass to put the Mo one up.
It was a good, if all-too-easy goal for the home side, although Rovers hit back in the 20th minute, with an even better effort.
The build up started right from the back, with Lynass rolling the ball to Dave McKay, who played it down the right, where a neat interchange between Ross Matthews and Jamie Gullan, saw the latter play a low cross into the penalty area, which Wedderburn backheeled, allowing McGuffie to pick his spot past Fleming to restore parity.
It was almost 2-1 to Rovers within five minutes after an almighty goalmouth scramble following a short-corner, which saw McGuffie’s attempt kept out by Fleming, while a number of players attempted to follow up,with Wedderburn, Murray and Bowie all just unable to turn the ball home, before Fleming pounced to secure the ball on the goal-line.
Gullan was impressing down the right-hand-side, and he was next to try his luck after making good headway down the flank and drifting inside, but after doing well to eke out the chance for himself, he could only drag the ball wide of target after getting in range.
The home side’s only shot on target had resulted in their goal, but while Rovers were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, they were struggling to test Fleming in the Mo’ nets, with Bowie having an effort charged down, while Grant Gillespie tried his luck from distance which flew well over the ‘keeper’s crossbar.
Livewire Gullan did come closer at the start of the second period though, when the Montrose defence gifted him possession 25-yards from goal, and after sidestepping away from one challenge and making some space for the shot, his effort fizzed just over the bar.
The on-loan Hibs forward was instrumental in Rovers next attack too, brilliantly shifting away from two home players in the middle of the park, before finding Crane who had done well to get forward down the left.
However, with Bowie in space inside the area, Crane’s cross was too high and Bowie was unable to get enough on the header which was off-target.
Rovers were continuing to look the likeliest to pull off the win, and they should have taken the lead with 20 minutes remaining, when some patient build up play eventually allowed Matthews to pick out Bowie, but with just the ‘keeper to beat, he pulled his shot wide of the post as Fleming bore down on him.
Stewart Petrie’s side had been wasteful in possession all afternoon, and Paul Watson was the next player to gift Rovers a chance, when Bowie did well to steal the ball off him in Rovers half, before advancing on goal and sending a curling effort just wide from 25-yards.
There was still time for one more shot at goal, and unsurprisingly it came for the away side, when substitute Nathan Flanagan found space in the left-hand channel, and from an acute angle, he flashed an effort past Fleming, and just wide of the right-hand post.
The result means that Rovers end the term with just one win in five matches, although on the flip side, they’ve lost just two in 12. One of those did come against Tuesday evening’s opponents Forfar Athletic though, and with the Loons so impressive this season, it’ll take a big effort from McGlynn’s men to take a lead to Station Park next Saturday.
© Eddie Doig 2019
RaithTV spoke to John after the 1-1 draw at Montrose
Raith Rovers head to the Angus region once again this Saturday, for their final league match of the campaign.
It might not be the sides final meeting this term however, with both participating in the end of season Championship playoffs, albeit in different semi-finals.
While Montrose’s opponents are to be confirmed, Raith know they’ll be taking in Forfar over two legs next week.
Rovers have a poor record in Angus this season, with just one win seven visits, with the solitary victory coming at Gayfield against Arbroath just before Christmas.
They also have a mixed record versus the Mo’ this term, with a win, a draw and a defeat in the three prior match ups.
The first encounter was at Stark’s Park back in September, when Rovers were reliant on an own goal from Iain Campbell to salvage a 1-1 draw, while the return match at Links Park was even less fruitful, where despite goals from Kevin Nisbet and Daniel Armstrong, Rovers still lost out by the odd goal in five.
The last meeting in February saw Raith produce one of their better performances this season however, when goals from Nisbet, Euan Murray, Liam Buchanan and Craig McGuffie sealed a 4-1 victory.
Despite the mixed record this season, Rovers generally enjoy good results in this fixture, with seven wins and two draws from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Lloyd Wilson.
Away League Record Versus Montrose:
Montrose Wins: 6 | Raith Rovers Wins 14 | Draws: 6
Montrose Goals: 56 | Raith Rovers Goals: 40
Raith Rovers: W-W-D-L-D-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Montrose: Martin Rennie 14 | Paul Watson 7 | Ross Campbell 7
Raith Rovers: Kevin Nisbet 32 | Liam Buchanan 13 | Lewis Vaughan 9
Montrose: 6/4 | Raith Rovers: 13/8 | Draw: 13/5