Son’s Comeback Ruins Rovers
The Rovers arrived in Dumbarton for the third attempt to play the match on the back of a rare away win. Grant Anderson came in for namesake Stuart and Clarke dropped to the bench for the fit again Graham. Some Rovers fans remembered the last trip to the Son’s ground when the referee asked their mascot to change his top to avoid confusion with home players – the large grey elephant’s head not being enough to differentiate! There was no segregation which meant some Rovers fans had to be politely asked to leave the comfy seats normally occupied by Directors.
Before the visiting support could really comment on Jason Thomson’s second new haircut the home side showed their intent with good play causing the Rovers problems in the first minute. Graham had a first time shot held then Turner ran towards the Raith goal. Anderson did well wide and his ball into the box was knocked out to Watt. Josh’s shot was half blocked but fell for Greig Spence who swivelled and volleyed the ball home from 9 yards. 0:1 after barely four minutes. McGurn did well to save from Smith’s header as the match tempo remained high.
Dougie Hill moved forward, his shot was blocked back to him he flicked the ball up and over the back line and nearly got on the end it. The match was shaping up to be a good one and both reporter and updater wondered if they had enough paper/battery to keep up! Graham turned provider but Anderson’s header from his cross lacked power. Gilhaney’s run across the front of the box ended when his shot went wide.
In the 18th minute Dave McGurn made a very unusual slip up. Hill played him a low slow ball at the far post but Dave missed his kick and the ball rolled gently past him and he was probably the most relieved man in the country seeing it go just past the post and out… More orthodox efforts came from Agnew and Prunty’s shot was slowed by Hill’s block. The matches pace was still high and Spence got wide right – his first cross was blocked but he rolled the ball to the supporting Thomson who used the space he was given to slide the ball into the path of Anderson. Grant Anderson was able to pick his spot from 19 yards and whipped his shot low past Grindlay to make it 0:2.
Grant had another effort then McGurn did well to tip a free kick onto the bar. It came down in the goalmouth and was cleared after a stramash. Brian Prunty then had a tame volley which was easy for McGurn to deal with. In the 36th minute the home side scored. Jim Listerfound space in the six yard box – aided by his two handed shove on a defender – and the ball dropped in front of him and which he stabbed home. Prunty had another effort then Spence hurried Grindlay as he took a short pass back.
The half time discussions was about the pace of the game, the good play of the home side and the space being found by the Raith attackers. That and the novelty of no segregation.
The home side came out looking for the equaliser and in the 47th Dave McGurn made an excellent save from Agnew’s 18 yard shot on a cut back. The Rovers responded with shots from Thomson and Graham who found the side netting on the angle after good work from Watt. Spence was flagged for offside and looped a shot over Grindlay into the far corner, again showing his technical abilities, but earning a harsh yellow card for doing so. Again the Rovers attack were being given space and Spences run from deep, aided by Mensing and Graham, ended with a low shot saved. A clever Rovers free kick should have delivered a decisive third goal, Graham made a good run and his first time cross from the by-line went across goal to the in-running Anderson. Grant was unmarked and somehow managed to fire over the bar from 4 yards when it was much easier to score. A Son’s fan behind me said it was “miss of the season”.
It was increasingly clear the next goal would be vital and Graham’s good work saw Watt’s cross too strong for the Rovers to capitalise. McGinn the home right back put in a better ball and Lister was able to jump and bundle the ball past McGrun from 6 yards. 2:2 and the home side continued to push on, a shot went across goal then McDougall shot over. Another ball into the Rovers box found Prunty at the back post his shot was well blocked by McGurn and as Mensing moved to clear the ex-Ayr man dived forward and the referee decided to award a penalty. It was a soft penalty according to the home fan sat behind me who made a point of saying so. Simon Mensing was rightly furious with the decision but Agnew hit the back of the net despite McGurn getting a bit of his low shot.
3:2 down the Rovers withdrew the lively Watt bringing on Hamill. There were still gaps in the home defence and a Raith free header was fumbled by Grindlay a yard or so out but he was able to re-claim the ball. Hill took a knock in that incident and was replaced by Stuart Anderson with Mensing moving from midfield to centre back. Walker had a decent curling effort go past then Clarke joined the fray for Grant Anderson. Lister got his third in the 83rd minute heading a re-cycled cross in with Mensing not close enough to him.
The Rovers kept working to get something from the game, Graham hit across goal with the keeper beaten, Spence drove a shot wide, Thomson’s good run saw his cross over-hit and Clarke and Stuart Anderson’s efforts didn’t hit the target. Ronald for the home side shot over and Nicky Phinn – no doubt glad no-longer to be a Par – failed to get on the end of a cross as time ran out.
This was a great game of football both sides were looking to get the ball moving and there was no lack of good play. In a very different match from the win at Airdrie only days before, the Rovers put in a better performance yet found themselves on the losing side. Losing having been 2:0 up is frustrating and there were chances to seal the win but the home side deserved something from a cracking First Division match.
Report – John Mainland, Picture – Eddie Doig
Photographs copyright Eddie Doig, edited by Tony Fimister