All Square At Station Park
Raith Rovers remain top of League One, but Falkirk gained ground on them from the chasing pack, after John McGlynn’s men were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Forfar Athletic at Station Park.
Ross Forbes had given the home side an early lead, but a dominant second half performance saw John Baird drag Rovers level from close range, and despite creating a number of other chances, they were unable to find the winner.
There was one change in the Raith starting lineup, with Iain Davidson returning from suspension to take the place of Dave McKay, while on the bench, there was the welcome return of Michael Miller from injury.
Rovers were the in-form team going into this one, but after a low key start to the match, Forfar took the lead in the game’s first meaningful attack.
Ross Meechan’s cross from the right seemed innocuous enough, but with Ross Munro unable to claim it, Forbes had the simple task of nodding into the empty net.
The visitors looked a little rattled at this point, and Forfar were presented with another chance just a few minutes later, when possession was gifted away on the half way line to Jordan Kirkpatrick, and with the defence backing off, he unleashed a 25-yard drive which Munro handled comfortably.
Rovers just couldn’t seem to settle, and Forfar almost made it two in the 13th minute, when the Raith backline was again unable to stop the cross coming in, allowing Forbes to swing his boot at it, but his attempt was blocked by Kieran MacDonald.
After a slow start, Rovers were starting to find their way into the game, and Gullan squandered a good chance after pouncing onto a loose ball after Grant Anderson was challenged in the box and appealed for a penalty, and Dylan Tait tested Marc McCallum from long range, although his attempt was straight at the ‘keeper.
Raith were now very much in the ascendency, and while they were keeping possession well and playing good football, the majority of their good play was coming unstuck as they entered the final third.
Rovers started the second half with a change in personnel, with Ross Matthews taking the place of Brad Spencer, but they were almost two down within moments of the restart, when Davidson was unable to cut out a clearance, allowing Ross Kirkpatrick to bear down on goal, but Munro did well to repel his effort with his feet.
Despite that early chance, Forfar were on the back foot at the start of the second half, but the bulk of the play was all happening in front of their defence, albeit Rovers tempo had moved up a gear.
Anderson was unable to turn in a MacDonald cross in the 54th minute, and it was his last contribution to the game, as he made way for Kieron Bowie, who went up top to spearhead the Raith attack.
Within seconds of his introduction, Rovers spurned their best chance to equalise, with MacDonald again the creator.
The full back’s cross found Dylan Tait at the back post, but after bringing the ball under control, he somehow managed to blast the ball over the bar from close range.
Ten minutes later, Rovers came even closer to restoring parity, when Baird took a pass in from Hendry, and after spinning his marker in the penalty area, he cracked a shot that beat Marc McCallum, but rebounded off the post to safety.
It was starting to feel like it wasn’t going to be Rovers day, but in the 72nd minute, the scores were level.
Unsurprisingly, Macdonald was the architect, with his cross being nodded back across goal by Tait, and Baird was on hand to nod home from close range.
With their tails up, Rovers now looked the likeliest winner, but they had Munro to thanks for keeping the scores level with 10 minutes remaining, after he did well at full stretch to divert away a Forbes attempt from just outside the box.
However, the visiting fans thought they’d have a reason to celebrate two minutes later, when MacDonald’s cross seemed ideal for Bowie, but he just failed to connect from six yards, and the chance was gone.
They came even closer in the final minute, when Davidson appeared to have done enough to toe-poke the ball home, but McCallum instinctively tipped the ball past the post, to secure a point for the hosts.
John McGlynn’s men will put league action to one side next weekend, when they travel to Livingston in the Scottish Cup.
© Eddie Doig 2020
RaithTV talked to John McGlynn after the 1-1 draw at Station Park
Raith Rovers head to Station Park this weekend, looking to extend their good run of form, and keeping their position at the top of League One.
John McGlynn’s men have lost just once in their last 10 outings, and currently hold a two point lead above second placed Airdrie, with Falkirk a further point behind.
Saturday’s opponents are on a less impressive sequence of results, with just one win in their last five outings, leaving them in ninth place in the table, six points above bottom club Stranraer.
Rovers have found Station Park, and Angus in general an unhappy hunting ground in recent years, although they did win their last time out in September, when goals from Lewis Vaughan and Kieran MacDonald sealing a come from behind 2-1 win, a victory that was Raith’s first win at the venue since 2007.
It was a slightly tamer affair the last time the two teams met in November however, with the two playing out a 0-0 draw at Stark’s Park.
Rovers have the upper hand in recent years in this fixture, but only just, with four wins and three draws from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Duncan Williams.
Head-To-Head Away League Record Versus Forfar Athletic:
Forfar Wins: 18 | Raith Rovers Wins: 12 | Draws: 10
Forfar Goals: 70 | Raith Rovers Goals: 57
Raith Rovers: W-W-D-L-W-W
Forfar: Dale Hilson 7 | Ross Forbes 5 | Michael Travis 5
Raith Rovers: Kieron Bowie 8 | Jamie Gullan 7 | Lewis Allan 6
Forfar: 3/1 | Raith Rovers: 3/4 | Draw: 14/5