Comfortable Raith Ease To Win
Raith Rovers kept up their 100% pre-season record this afternoon, with a one-sided 2-0 victory over Lowland League side, Spartans.
Grant Anderson and trialist Matthew Knox gave Rovers a deserved two goal lead at the interval, and it would have ended in a more emphatic scoreline if not for a fine performance from Spartans’s goalkeeper, Blair Carswell.
John McGlynn made five changes to the starting XI which started Thursday evening’s 3-2 win over Hamilton Academical.
In defence, Jamie Watson and Kyle Benedictus came in for Dave McKay and Iain Davidson, while in front of them Grant Anderson, Michael Miller and Knox came in for Kieron Bowie, Joao Victoria and Brad Spencer.
The match started at a fairly languid pace, with Rovers dictating possession, and they had their first attempt at goal after six minutes.
Fernandy Mendy had ventured forward during a decent passing move, but his attempt at goal from 25-yards was sent crashing into the stand behind Carswell.
There wasn’t too much happening in what was a fairly low-keystart to the match, although the entire opening quarter of an hour had taken place in the Edinburgh side’s half, but other than a few crosses into the area from Anderson and Kieran MacDonald, Rovers had failed to exert too much pressure on Carswell.
However, they opened the scoring in the 17th minute, with their first real chance.
Anderson was the scorer, running onto a fine slide rule pass from Ross Matthews which parted the Spartans backline, allowing the experienced wide-man to slot the ball home.
It was a goal which was thoroughly merited based on Rovers domination of the ball and territory, and you sensed it was possibly going to be a long day for the visitors.
It was almost 2-0 in the 23rd minute, when good work by Lewis Allan ended with him sending in a ball to Regan Hendry at the back post, but the midfielder saw his first-time effort from close range blocked and diverted behind.
The game then hit a bit of a lull, with Rovers happy to spray the ball around and make Spartans do all the chasing, but it burst into life again with 10 minutes of the half remaining, with a flurry of activity.
First, Hendry had two efforts blocked in quick succession from just outside the area, then Mendy sent a header just over the bar from an Anderson cross.
The second goal was just moments away however, and when it arrived in the 37th minute, it was a humdinger.
Trialist Knox, picked up the ball, and from 25-yards, gave Carswell no-chance with a fantastic chipped effort.
The match had essentially been a game of defence versus attack since the opening whistle, and with the second goal the final action of the first period, you felt Rovers had a few more goals in them if they fancied moving through the gears in the second half.
The second 45 started in the exact same manner as the first, with Rovers on the front foot, and a rehearsed corner-kick routine saw Hendry drift out the six yard box to get on the end of a drifting Matthews delivery, but he couldn’t quite get enough purchase into his shot on the turn and the chance went begging.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that approximately 90% of the game must have taken place in the visitors half, but Rovers narrow formation required their full-backs to get forward to supply the width, and while MacDonald was supplying that in abundance on the left, Watson’s forays forward were a little more sporadic.
Spartans had managed to keep Rovers at bay for the opening stages of the half, but they almost found themselves three down just before the hour mark, and again the danger came from Knox, who skimmed the crossbar with a shot from distance.
Spartans rode their luck a moment later too, when a low, driven cross from Hendry was somehow missed by Allan, Anderson and Knox who all failed to get something on a cross which was perfectly fizzed across the six-yard line.
That was the final piece of action for a number of players, with Mendy, Benedictus, Knox and Miller making way for Iain Davidson, Dave McKay, Kieron Bowie and Joao Victoria.
Rovers continued to take the game to Spartans, and they rode their luck with 25 minutes remaining.
Carswell did well to repel Allan’s shot, who did well to turn in the box and get an attempt away, then Victoria almost got his first ever goal in a Raith jersey a few seconds later, but his low drive through a flurry of players was blocked on the line.
Carswell was alert again in the 72nd minute, diving low to his left and stopping an Anderson shot with his midriff, as Rovers started to increase their efforts as the match drew towards its close.
David McGurn was called into action for the first time in the 74th minute, when he comfortably held Reid’s effort, but Carswell was now the busiest man on the park, and had to look smart not once but twice in the space of a minute, doing well to claw away Anderson’s half volley, before doing even better to block Davidson’s attempt from an acute angle after a corner had been swung in.
Despite Raith’s dominance, they were unable to extend their lead further, in a match where they were far too good for their Lowland League guests.
Rovers will complete their pre-season campaign on Tuesday, with a home match against Fife neighbours, Cowdenbeath.
Photos © Tony Fimister