Rovers Gain First Win
Rovers got their first win of the season this evening, with a hard fought but deserved win over Peterhead.
Early goals from Kieran Bowie and Michael Miller gave Raith a two goal lead at the interval, and a fine headed effort in the closing stages from Lewis Allan sealed the points, although a late lapse allowed Peterhead to make the scoreline more respectable with five minutes remaining.
John McGlynn made three changes from Saturday’s defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Fernandy Mendy and Dave McKay dropped out of the backline, with Rovers reverting to a back four, with Michael Miller moving to right back, and Iain Davidson and Kyle Benedictus partnering each other at centre-half.
Joao Victoria and Kieran Bowie came back into midfield, while Grant Anderson dropped to the bench, with Brad Spencer moving back into the starting eleven.
Rovers have had a tough start to their competitive campaign, but they started this one brightly, taking the lead after just three minutes.
Kieran MacDoanld did well to hit the byeline, and his low cross picked out Bowie at the back post, and he turned the ball past Blue Toon ‘keeper, Greg Fleming from 12 yards to put Raith in front.
MacDonald’s forward forays have impressed since joining from Airdrie, and he was bombing forward to good effect early doors, and his low cross in the eighth minute almost brought about a second goal, but the resulting stramash was eventually cleared.
Peterhead had been second best for the opening 10 minutes or so, but they started to feel their way back into the game, without testing Ross Munro in the Rovers goal.
The hosts were still looking incisive though, and Ross Matthews did well to tee up Brad Spencer in the 15th minute, but his first time effort from 20 yards was curled high into the Penman Family Stand.
Rovers were playing impressively, and they doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute, with a humdinger of an effort.
More good work from Bowie in the middle of the park, saw him pick out Miller who was overlapping on the right, and his first time effort fizzed past Fleming and into the opposite corner to give Raith a cushion.
Rovers were well on top now, and a neat passage of play eventually found Matthews right through with just the ‘keeper to beat, but while his dinked effort was over the onrushing goalie, his effort dribbled just wide of the left-hand post.
Bowie was having a lively match wide on the left, and after Matthews went down in a heap under a challenge on the edge of the area, the 16-year-old nipped in and cracked a fierce drive over the Blue Toon crossbar.
The game had dipped a little since the second goal, which had given the visitors a little encouragement, and they almost grabbed a foothold in the game in the 37th minute, when a great cross from the right was just too far ahead of Derek Lyle, who had flung himself at the cross in vain.
Needing a way back into the match, Peterhead had started to come out their shells a little, with Willie Gibson keeping things ticking over in midfield, rarely wasting a pass, while Jamie Stevenson was giving Jim McInally’s men a good outlet down the right.
Rovers were keeping them at arm’s length however, with Peterhead’s best chance coming just before the interval, when Jack Leitch saw his first time effort flash just over Munro’s bar from just outside the box.
The second period started at a more sedate period than the first, but Rovers came close again in the 55th minute, when a well worked piece of play down the left saw them win a corner, and from it, Benedictus’ effort in a crowded penalty area was just kept out on the line.
Rovers made their first change in the 65th minute, with Grant Anderson replacing Victoria wide on the left, and he was straight into action almost immediately.
Scampering on to a through ball, he side-stepped the onrushing Fleming who brought him down with a trailing leg right on the edge of the area.
However, despite having a clear sight at goal, referee Chris Fordyce saw fit to award Rovers a free-kick on the edge of the area, and present Fleming with the yellow card.
With 12 minutes remaining, McGlynn made his second swap, with Fernandy Mendy replacing Davidson, and Rovers put the game to bed just a minute later.
Bowie did well to swing in a great cross from the left, allowing Allan to rise well and plonk a header over Fleming to make the score 3-0.
Rovers were ending the game strongly, and a pullback from MacDonald at the end of a well worked move found Hendry on the edge of the area, but he failed to get enough purchase into his finish and it dribbled wide of the left-hand upright.
While there was another goal in the game, it came from Peterhead, after a backpass ended up at the feet of Ben Armour, who slotted past Munro to reduce the arrears.
Although there were still five minutes remaining, Rovers comfortably held out, to seal a a fine performance and result against a side which is expected to put together a decent campaign in League One this term.
Rovers last game in Group D is against Cove Rangers at the Balmoral Stadium this Saturday.
Phots © Tony Fimister
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the 3-1 win in the Betfred Cup
Rovers and Peterhead come together at Stark’s Park on Tuesday evening, with the north-east side still in contention near the top of Group D.
The Blue Toon are unbeaten over 90 minutes in the League Cup, with a 2-1 win over Cove Rangers a penalty win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle and a point against Dundee leaving Jim McInally’s men on six points from three outings.
Those results mean that Peterhead are still in with a shout of advancing to the last 16 of the competition, although only a win will suffice for them against Rovers.
Peterhead have continued their excellent form from last term, when they won the League Two title on the final day from Clyde, and Jim McInally has retained the bulk of last season’s successful squad, with just a few new additions over the summer.
Two of those were brought in from Annan Athletic, with right back Scott Hooper and forward Aidan Smith both making the long journey north.
Only two more new faces have joined the Balmoor roster, with midfielders Gary Fraser joining from Cowdenbeath, and forward Ben Armour signing up after he left Greenock Morton.
It’s been18 months since the two sides last faced off against each other, in what was a poor day at the office for Barry Smith’s Rovers team, as Peterhead ran out easy 3-0 winners up in the Scottish Cup back in November 2017.
Rovers have a pretty poor record in this fixture in general, with just three wins and three draws from the last 10 meetings between the clubs.
Tuesday evening’s match referee will be Chris Fordyce.
Head-To-Head Cup Record Versus Peterhead:
Raith Rovers Wins: 3 | Peterhead Wins: 1 | Draws: 3
Raith Rovers Goals: 14 | Peterhead Goals: 9
Raith Rovers: L-L | Peterhead: W-D-D
Raith Rovers: Lewis Allan 1
Peterhead: Derek Lyle and Rory McAllister both 1
Raith Rovers: 11/8 | Peterhead: 9/5 | Draw: 23/10