Son’s Late Goal Seals Draw
For the second successive week, the concession of a goal in injury time denied Raith Rovers three points, when they were held to a 2-2 draw against Dumbarton at Stark’s Park this afternoon.
Rovers manager Grant Murray started the match against the Sons with an unchanged eleven from the side that drew with league leaders Partick Thistle last week. However, despite the fact that today’s opponents were firmly rooted at the wrong end of the table, Rovers struggled for long periods during what turned out to be a rather frustrating afternoon for the home support.
Rovers started brightly enough, with both Greig Spence and Allan Walker trying their luck with shots in the opening ten minutes. However, neither managed to hit the target.
Indeed, it was the visitors who almost snatched the lead on the twenty-minute mark. A quickly taken free-kick caught the Rovers defence out of position, and a long range shot took a wicked deflection before clipping the outside of David McGurn’s post and out for a goal kick.
Rovers, relieved by that narrow escape, pushed forward once more, and opened the scoring courtesy of Brian Graham after 25 minutes. The big striker latched on to a high ball inside the Dumbarton penalty area, and shrugged off the challenge of a defender before placing a firm left foot shot beyond Jamie Ewings into the net.
Graham wiped his brow in the direction of the home support behind the goal, a clear reference to the fact that, up to that point, he had been having a poor match by his own high standards so far this season.
Dumbarton’s Ross Forsyth received the first yellow card of the match after half an hour for a crude challenge on Grant Anderson as he chased a dangerous-looking pass by Walker, before Greig Spence drew a save from Ewings with a smart left foot shot from just outside the box.
As the first half drew to a close, Rovers came close to doubling their advantage. A neat exchange of passes down the right flank between front two Graham and Spence ended with a first-time short by Walker, although the Rovers captain’s effort hit the side net.
Dougie Hill then levelled the yellow card count with a strong tackle right under the nose of referee Mike Tumilty.
The visitors belied their lowly league status by starting the second half on the front foot, and a lung-bursting run by Jim Lister almost brought an equaliser, although the Rovers defence managed to scramble the ball clear as the striker looked set to score.
With fifty minutes played, Eddie Malone’s free-kick was met with a glancing header by Graham, though Ewings was equal to the effort with a fine save low to his right. A minute later, Ewings denied the same player once more with an acrobatic dive to deny Graham a second goal.
Just as it looked as if Rovers were looking likely to increase their lead, Dumbarton cobbled together an equaliser to send their small band of
supporters wild. A long ball fell invitingly for Jim Lister, who found space behind the Rovers defence. McGurn attempted to narrow the angle on the advancing striker, but couldn’t stop his shot from finding the bottom corner of the net.
The goal clearly galvanised the Sons, who almost snatched an unlikely lead a minute later, although a fine save by McGurn maintained parity.
Rovers were rattled by the concession of an equaliser, and struggled to regain a foothold on the contest. However, as the home fans started to become restless, Rovers went back in front.
With twenty minutes remaining, a Walker corner kick was met by Dougie Hill, whose strong header was flicked into the net from the predatory Greig Spence from inside the six-yard box.
Any sense that Spence’s goal would prove to be the winner was clearly not felt by the Sons, who went in search of what would be their second league point of the season. Grant Anderson’s name made its way into the referee’s notebook for a foul 25 yards from goal. The resultant free-kick tested McGurn, who had to scramble across his line to touch the shot around his left post.
Shortly afterwards, a fine diving header by Lister shaved the outside of the post with McGurn well beaten.
With ten minutes remaining, Sons manager Alan Adamson brought on Brian Prunty in a bid to salvage something from the match. It proved to be an inspired change, as, in the final minute of regulation time, the substitute latched on to a loose ball in the box and drove his shot past McGurn into the far corner of the net.
Deep into stoppage time, Rovers created a final chance to claim the three points. Allan Walker’s run into the heart of the Dumbarton defence left the Rovers captain with only the keeper to beat, but the captain’s shot was confidently parried away by Ewings.
At the final whistle, the feeling persisted that Rovers had dropped two valuable points at home yet again, although, in truth, Dumbarton were worthy of a share of the spoils in the end. That David McGurn was named man of the match for the home side will provide much food for thought for those of a Rovers persuasion.
Report – Donald Ramsay, Pictures – Tony Fimister
Photographs copyright Tony Fimister and Ian Martin
Grant Murray spoke to Davie after an action packed match
Dumbarton gaffer Alan Adamson spoke to Raith TV