Welcome Win At Accies
Sometimes match reports almost write themselves last week’s eight goals made the report easy. Today’s win over the Hamilton was more of a test – this was not an advert for Scottish football however the Rovers fans left New Douglas Park with all three points.
Having overly tested the arithmetic of a program seller by giving him £5.50 for a £2.50 program I took my seat as the Rovers did a slightly different warm up. There were also changes to the line up with Ellis and Clarke coming in for Smith and Hamill. Laurie went into the back four as Mensing moved into central midfield while Clarke lined up wide left.
Before kickoff there was a minute’s applause to commemorate ex-Accies Chairman Jan Stepek. It was overcast and though the pitch looked good there was a bald patch in the goalmouth in front of the away support. The Rovers showed early intent with Mensing’s low driven cross knocked away after only 25 seconds and first corner within 2 minutes. Accie loanee Stevie May – who’d tied back his flowing locks – got space wide and played the ball into the box which lacked home men.
Ellis shot from the edge of the box and the Accies failed to create an opportunity from a free kick 25 yards out as the game became scrappy. The home side had to make an early change and re-jig their back four with Hendrie going off and Devlin on. Neither side really managed to get control of the match and it settled into a pattern of one side then the other having better spells. Not much football was being played and not much to excite the sparse crowd.
The flashy May used his pace to get into the area despite the attentions of Hill and Ellis then fell over – he’d have done rather better if he’d tried to stay on his feet. The Rovers were looking for opportunities and Graham’s quick throw to Clarke behind the home defensive line hit him on the back and fell kindly to the chasing Canning. Jason Thomson was booked then from a corner Ellis’s front post header across goal was hoofed off the line by an Accies man. The ball was headed back in and blocked by the home keeper before Mensing’s header was held by number one Cuthbert. The busy Spence worked his way into the box but to no effect then Mensing was booked.
In the 36th minute Brian Graham got goal side with the ball and was bundled to the ground before he could pull the trigger. It looked a stonewall penalty from the away end, according to my Accie fan brother-in-law in the home end it was a “definite penalty”. Ref Brian Colvin didn’t agree. May worked an opening and his volley across goal saw McGurn struggling but it went wide. Graham played a good ball forward for the hard working Clarke but he couldn’t quite get his head to it as the half wound down.
In the 44th the Rovers got the breakthrough. Spence hit the ball forward and from behind the goal it looked like a pretty feeble shot however the angle confused us. The ball dropped for the inrushing Allan Walker a few yards out who put his shot in off the underside of the bar. Most of the Rovers fans went from, “Ach” to “Yes!” in a second – it was an odd goal, pleasing but odd.
1:0 up at the half sharp eyed Rovers fans noticed McGurn looking ill at ease as he left the pitch. Laidlaw was worked hard by keeper coach Wayne Henderson during the break. Dave did not return for the second half and Accies made their remaining two changes to try and get back into the game. Young Ross Laidlaw did well in the first minute claiming a cross under pressure and looked un-phased despite the rain that had begun.
The second half did nothing to enliven the fans that had little to distract them from the cold. Hill left the fray in the 53rd minute with Hamill going into the centre of midfield and Mensing taking the injured man’s place in the back four.
Clarke had a shot on the turn that he didn’t really get hold of then May headed past the post. Jason Thomson did well with a lung busting forward run then moments later timed a tackle nicely in the Raith box. With 15 minutes to go Smith came on in place of Spence. Good Rovers play broke down when Graham’s clever back heel was too firm for the inrushing Malone in the box. Keatings had a shot on the turn but it trundled to Laidlaw.
Graham had a cross behind the inrushing Clarke then May’s low 18 yard strike hit the side netting. As time ran down the Rovers were perhaps sitting a little too deep but the Accies were unable to capitalise. Laidlaw took a mishit shot and as time ran out the Accies saw only their second corner cleared and May who despite a box full of players tried to put it into the top corner on the angle from 22 yards. The ball sailed harmlessly wide as the game ended.
This was not the best of games but a good result. The front three worked hard, Mensing showed his ability in the middle and Laurie didn’t look like he’d been away. Ross Laidlaw came off the bench and showed again he is a more than able understudy.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig
Live match updates by: David Codd
Photographs Copyright Eddie Doig