Rovers Blow Cold in Hamilton
The Rovers after the good performance at Partick lined up unchanged despite illness having affected the squad earlier this week. The early sunshine had gone and a strong wind was blowing across the pitch and into McGurn’s face in the first half.
A sparse crowd plus a handful of freeloaders looking on from behind Sainsbury’s were not rewarded with a good match. The first half was poor at best with the wind making passing and control difficult. The home side did have a few efforts, Routledge shot wide in the fifth minute and Jason Thomson saw a good ball towards him in space accidently blocked by the ref. Jason didn’t get his usual opportunities to push down the wing as it was proving difficult to get the ball to him with the wind holding it up and blowing it off course. In the 10th minute some Rovers fans cheered when Graham’s long range effort bounced into the goal on the Astroturf behind the home keeper. His shot was wind assisted and straight to not off the training ground.
McShane shot at McGurn then Mensing headed Hamill’s corner wide at the back post. A rare moment of quality saw Hendrie play a great first time pass to Crawford who’s strike from 25 yards scraped the outside of the far post. Some of the Rovers support tried to entertain themselves with a chant or two about ‘Jelly reptiles’ no doubt fuelled by said sweets from the Links Market. Canning headed over from a free kick but his blushes were spared by the offside flag. At the other end Spence failed to get enough on Walker’s free kick to direct it goalwards.
In the 29thminute the wind nearly broke the deadlock when a cross to the far post, where there were no Accies men, was nearly blown
into the top corner. McGurn was quick to get across goal and tip it over. Ryan shot wide and then Devlin headed tamely at McGurn. Spence nearly managed to play in Graham up front but the threat was removed and followed by an Accies break. Hamill did well to get back and make an important tackle at the edge of the Rovers box.
In the 44th minute Stevie May threw himself down a yard plus outside the box, a similar distance from the nearest Raith man… Routledge stayed on his feet before ending the half with a shot that went well wide. The Police’s hit Message in a Bottle was played at the half and was a clear highlight of proceedings so far for many Raith fans. The home support seemed to stir but it was actually the noise of a passing train.
With the wind behind them for the second half the Rovers didn’t manage to use it to their advantage. Cuthbert flapped at a deep ball before hoofing it gratefully away. McGurn patted down a long range effort from St Johnstone man May. Then Ryan foolishly pulled back Ellis as the front man tried to get onto a ball. Thomson got down the wing and drove a low ball across goal but it was cleared wide and the breaking Accie played the ball across to Stevie May who put a good strike past McGurn from 20 yards. Sainty Stevie has carried the home side this season – that was his 23rd goal – next on the home scorers has only 6.
Raith tried to respond quickly, Thomson got wide again and Walker’s shot was blocked before Callachan’s snapshot from the edge of the box was too high. The Accies were still having the better of things and should have doubled their advantage when May got away in the 60th minute and tried to slip the ball past the out-rushing McGurn. Dave got enough on the ball to claim it at the second attempt. Grant Anderson came on and his first cross was shouldered over by Graham. Cardle – who’d failed to make any impression – was fouled running onto a quick free kick by Ziggy Gordon who was unpunished. The home man probably expected a card for removing the threat as his defensive colleagues were exposed. Cardle later managed to get a dangerous ball across goal and Graham slid in missing it just a yard out. Callachan, though not doing as well as midweek, kept trying and the youngster did well running from midfield eluding a couple of Accies before playing an angled ball to Graham who shot past. Brian clearly knew he should have done better.
Mensing did well to put the ball out for a corner as the running Mackinnon threatened. With the Rovers pushing for a leveller they were exposed by a break and Crawford missed the ball in space two on one. Cuthbert looked shaky again in the 75thminute claiming the ball at the second attempt. The home keeper redeemed himself a little by punching over Grant Andersons driven shot. Walker and Spence were withdrawn with Stuart Anderson and Josh Watt going on. Mensing took the armband with 14 minutes left.
Cardle saw his inswinging wind assisted net bound corner headed off the line by Longridge on the back post. Then May had a second effort after an initial block go wide with McGurn beaten. Another Rovers corner was already blown out before it was squared into a crowded six yard box. Graham saw a good header across goal from a free kick go wide with Cuthbert a spectator. Graham had another go as normal time ran out but didn’t test the keeper.
Ryan shot optimistically from distance going well wide. As time ran out May capitalised on an Ellis slip wide to play in Andy Ryan who’s well struck shot made it 2:0. This was not a good advert for Scottish football and the wind certainly did not help but the team who played best on the day won. Perhaps the Accies were more used to the wind conditions at their place. Incidentally this was the third crowd in a row of less than a thousand for the ex-SPL side…
The Rovers were a long way off their midweek performance after which it was no surprise the starting eleven was unchanged. It will however be a surprise if Grant Murray makes no alterations for the last home game of the season against Falkirk.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig & Tony Fimister
Photographs copyright Eddie Doig, edited by Tony Fimister.