Rovers Below Par
Grant Murray’s unbeaten managerial run came to a stuttering halt today on Halbeath Road.
The healthy Raith support settled in the sun hoping to extend an 11 game unbeaten run. The Rovers lined up with Colin Wilson in for Ellis and Grant Anderson back in his wide midfield role. Jambo loanee David Smith was on the bench. Sammy the Tammy was more subdued than in the past but nearly fell as he ran onto the park. Some ex-Pars including Bert Paton were introduced before kick-off which polarised the two supports.
The Rovers started facing the sun and with the blustery breeze behind them. Within seconds of the start Eddie Malone played the ball down the line and was caught very late by the flying challenge of Falkingham. The wee man caught him hard and high, the Rovers fans were rightly incensed, it was a shocker. Calum Murray, the referee, surprisingly decided a yellow card was sufficient. Eddie was able to continue and saw Grant Anderson knock the ball back to Thomson. Jason’s cross fell to Stuart Anderson who shot well over. The home side responded by swinging a ball into the box and Morris fouled McGurn. Dunfermline seemed keen to get the ball forward quickly and Barrowman capitalised forcing a blocking save from McGurn in the 5th minute. A Rovers corner fell to Grant Anderson who’s shot from 17 yards was wayward.
Wallace crossed for the home side but Jason Thomson was alert. Colin Wilson then did well sacrificing himself to block a driven effort from the edge of the box. A Rovers pass wide to Grant Anderson was collected by McMillan but he tried to play out rather than clear his lines. He made a right mess of it and Grant capitalised, the winger was brought down in the box by Morris for a clear penalty.
Brian Graham lined up to take the spot kick and fired his shot low to Gallacher’s right, the keeper guessed correctly and made a great save. Dunfermline tried to respond to this let off but Wallace’s shot from 19 yards was at McGurn. The home side took the lead in the 19th minute. Another long ball found Wallace who out muscled Wilson and was able to pick his spot at McGurn’s near post from just inside the box. Wallace next attracted attention fouling Hill and then Hill was booked, despite his efforts to pull out of a tackle, on the far side.
The lack of midfield play was limiting the Rovers ability to get a grip of the game Walker wasn’t getting the chance to ferret out the ball as he normally does. More direct play from the home side saw Wilson bundled out of the way by Barrowman. Cardle took advantage crossing from the far side and Falkingham had the simple task of heading home from close in. 2:0 in the 32nd minute. Jason Thomson was rightly booked in the 35thminute as the misfiring Rovers failed to get going. Jason was more constructive running up the right side and then the Rovers saw a corner bundled past by a home defender. At the other end a direct ball led to Barrowman scuffing an effort that McGurn claimed easily then another longer ball saw Cardle following up sting the hands of McGrun as he palmed his well struck shot down to take. The same man tried again from nearer and Dave was quick to smother the chance just before the half.
At the half Grant Murray decided to bring himself on in place of Colin Wilson. Bert’s team talk made some difference, Malone cut inside and his angled drive was blocked away by Gallacher. At the other end Wallace spun and shot over from 16 yards. Brian Graham brushed past Morris who was relieved to see the play stopped as the Rovers man homed in on goal. Cardle was penalised and Walker’s free kick found the diving Brian Graham who bulleted his 10th goal of the season past the helpless keeper from six yards.
Grant Murray will have been disappointed to be booked for his first foul despite the presence of other red shirts. Jim Jeffries was also vexed and whistler Murray took some time to calm him down. The Pars scored the vital next goal in the 56th minute. A long ball resulted in Cardle’s deft pass wide to Geggan who’s cross to the back post was headed home across goal by Barrowman. It was a good goal but for the wrong team… From the kickoff Walker and Clarke nearly combined get Pat past the back four. On the hour Clarke was quick to pressure Gallacher beating him to the ball at the bye line but desperate defending prevented the Rovers from getting a shot in. Grant Anderson shot over as did Greggan.
Pat Clarke’s next attempt to get goalside saw him blocked out then Wallace played in Cardle who took a touch then shot wide when he’d have hoped to hit the target. In the 70th minute Walker and Graham combined well to play in Clarke but Gallacher reacted quickly to snuff out the threat. In the 71st the home side won their first corner but Wallace was offside when the ball was played back in. In the 74th there was a rare bit of quality when Stuart Anderson’s expert lob was met by Smith’s perfectly timed run. His first touch was good but his shot was pushed away by Gallacher.
Geggan had a long range effort and then Stuart Anderson tried from 25 yards but it went wide. Husband was booked for an ankle tap on Smith who was scampering through the middle. Dougie Hill, who’d had a decent game, made an uncharacteristic error and Wallace shot into the side netting. As time ran down Barrowman could have done better with a header from Wallace’s cross. Dave McGurn showed composure under pressure just before a shout from the home end came for the final whistle. It’s not just Raith fans who remember Allan Walkers late equaliser…
Falkingham was named Man of the Match even though he could have been a spectator from the first minute. To be frank Jason Thomson was the main beneficiary of his staying on as referee Murray didn’t take further action against the ex-pars loanee despite penalising again a few times.
The Rovers good run came to an end with a poor performance. The defence was tested by the direct style of the home side, Bert Paton in the stand will have found it familiar. The midfield didn’t get enough of the ball to create though the front men worked hard. Having had six corners to the home sides two the Rovers will have been disappointed to not have taken advantage. At least the Rovers only have a week before being able to get going again in next week’s Cup game at Partick.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig
Photographs copyright Eddie Doig
Grant Murray shared his thoughts with Raith TV after Saturdays game