Late Drama Denies Raith
Two late goals from Stranraer saw Raith Rovers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Stair Park, as their away frailties were again brought into sharp focus.
Goals in the second period from Michael Miller and Brad Spencer had placed Rovers in control of the game after Connor McManus had given Stranraer the lead at the interval, but Rovers contrived to give two goals away in the final seven minutes, as David Dangana and Cameron Elliot ensured the points stayed with Steve Farrell’s men.
John McGlynn went with the same starting eleven which won so impressively against Clyde the previous weekend, but playing against the wind, they were slow out of the blocks in this one, with the Blues coming close after just over a minute.
Right-back, Scott Robertson swung a good ball into the box, and while Dangana’s header appeared to unsettle David McGurn, the on-loan Aberdeen forward’s glancing effort went just past the keeper’s right-hand post.
Stranraer continued to look the livelier in the opening passages of play, and Jamie Hamill almost opened the scoring with an acrobatic effort, after a corner kick fell nicely for him at the edge of the box, allowing him an audacious overhead attempt which just dropped wide of McGurn’s goal.
Rovers started to grow into the match however, and while Spencer’s effort from 22-yards was blasted well over the bar, their next attempt caused far more angst for the home side, when a clearance fell kindly for Grant Anderson inside the area, but his low effort was blocked by a defender, just as it looked like Rovers would take an early advantage.
Instead, they ended up going a goal down in the 16th minute.
Elliott initially did well down the left, cutting inside and teeing up McManus 20-yards out, and with no Rovers player able to put the midfielder under any kind of pressure, he was able to take a touch and curl a fine effort past an unsighted McGurn to give the hosts an early lead.
Rovers were continuing to create half chances as they pushed for an equaliser, and Miller almost caught Stranraer ‘keeper Dale Burgess off guard, when his cross come shot nearly sneaked under the crossbar, then Lewis Allan almost brought the scores level when he got on the end of a corner kick, but he couldn’t get hold of his first-time effort and the chance was gone.
Rovers continued to be on the front foot for the rest of the first-period, but chances were kept at a premium due to a disciplined Stranraer defence that was doing well to restrict Rovers to long balls over the top, as well as dealing effectively with crosses from wide areas.
That changed three minutes into the second period though, when Rovers restored parity.
Lewis Allan did well to win a corner after pouncing on a McGurn launch up field, and from the right sided cross, Miller was able to head home from close range under pressure.
Rovers now started to take a firmer control of proceedings, but they were struggling to create anything too clear cut in terms of chances, despite having the lion’s share of possession, and they were almost made to pay for it with 25 minutes remaining, when Elliott danced his way through the Rovers defence to give himself a great shooting opportunity, only for his effort to be blocked superbly by Kieran MacDonald.
Rovers then took the lead after 70 minutes, when Spencer picked up the ball wide on the left, and while Burgess may have prepared himself for a low cross, the midfielder’s low shot fizzed into the opposite corner of the net to put the away side in control.
At this stage, most observers probably expected Rovers to either hold out or build on their lead, but instead, they were hauled back by Stranraer with seven minutes left, after Dangala brought out a superb save from McGurn after he latched on to a cross from the right, but despite an abundance of defenders in the box, Dangala was the quickest to react, firing the rebound high into the net.
It was to get even worse for Rovers just two minutes later, when again, McGurn did well initially to repel Ian Smith’s shot from distance, but with Iain Davidson and Elliott both running to the ball, McGurn’s second touch took it away from his teammate, who then fell over the goalkeeper, allowing Elliott the simplest of finishes from a yard.
It was a little harsh on the visitors, who had the upper-hand for large spells, but the result takes them off the top of the table and down to second, with Falkirk now a point clear at the summit of League One.
Rovers get the chance to return to winning ways next week, with a home match against Montrose.
© Eddie Doig 2019
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the defeat to Stranraer