Vaughan’s Vigour Delivers Draw
On Friday I was asked by a colleague what I was doing at the weekend and I said I was going to Greenock. “Greenock United?” she asked quizzically. After Tuesday’s match most Rovers fans will have been envious of those like her not interested in football. The Rovers support travelled west hoping good play would be the talking point and saw an unchanged eleven begin the game in sunshine.
If anyone said that the match began with both sides displaying silky flowing football then they were clearly sat behind one of the old stands pillars. To describe the open exchanges as scrappy would be charitable as initially neither side managed to string more than two passes together. Perhaps it was the effects of Tuesday’s 120 minutes, much of it with 10 men, that meant the Rovers were off their game but Morton were little better despite a relatively simple midweek win in normal time.
The Morton squad features new players from France, Slovakia and Belgium but it was Dougie Imrie, who’d come in from Paisley, who showed early as the home side tried to tee up long balls over the top for Kabba Cham. In the 5th minute following a corner a home man re-entered the field of play and was unsurprisingly flagged for offside when he received the ball. After 13 minutes Wallace received a long pass and cutting inside tested McGurn. Dave pushed his low shot wide. Thomson blocked an Imrie shot then Cardle’s low ball was knocked first time up and over by Smith. It had taken 19 minutes for the Rovers to create their first half chance.
In the 23rdminute the Rovers came very close to taking what would have been an undeserved lead. Kevin Moon timed a forward run very well and met Cardle’s ball as the keeper Caraux rushed out. Moon flicked the ball up and over the exposed gardien de but but it dropped onto the face of the bar and bounced away to safety, the home side broke and Imrie had another effort blocked. Wallace was booked for fouling Elliot then crosses from Cardle and Thomson failed to be capitalised upon as the Rovers got a little more into the game.
Kabba Cham was more Chaka Khan in the 33rd minute when he got away from Hill on the by-line in the box and went down – the referee rightly let play continue. At the other end following a booking for Habai the free kick into the home box saw a number of Rovers players vigorously claiming for a penalty for what may have been a handball by Page – it was difficult to tell from our end.
A ball into the Raith box was cleared despite two Ton men being offside initially and the ball was played back in striking Fox on his far side. The referee awarded the home side a penalty, presumably for handball. Callum Elliot complained vociferously clearly referencing the similar incident at the other end and was booked. Dougie Imrie stepped up and fired the ball into the top corner to McGurn’s right, 1:0.
Moments later Imrie fouled Thomson late and hard on the by-line. It was a heavy challenge and Jason did well to carry on, Imrie was booked while some shouted for further punishment. Hill and Page both had efforts then Cardle shot low into the side netting after combining with Grant Anderson. The half ended just after Imrie caught Moon late after the ball was away.
All spectators will have been hoping at half time for an improvement, though the home fans will have felt they merited the lead.
Morton pushed for a second and Cham got wide finding Hands whose shot on the angle was touched wide by McGurn who was making sure it was safe. Experienced home man McLaughlin went off injured in the 53rd minute and Anderson crossed behind goal. The Rovers had started the second half better than the first – not that that was difficult. Moon was booked for fouling Cham and the Rovers managed to put some pressure on around the hour but it was Wallace who next threatened goal shooting over.
In the 63rd minute Gordon Smith went off and Lewis Vog-han (aka Vaughan) was announced as coming on. Perhaps it was the fresh legs or his different style of play but whatever it was he seemed to lift the Rovers. Sub Pecier headed wide then McGurn pushed away an Imrie drive. Callachan came on for Moon and the Rovers saw Vaughan’s shot blocked then a follow up from Fox was also blocked in the box and the ball eventually fell to the keeper.
In the 75th a free kick into the home box hit Pecier rather like it had Fox but the big Slovakian was not penalised. Vaughan was still lively and did well getting into the box in the 76th minute but his next possession was more fruitful. Lewis picked up the ball in front of the Raith support and crossed well to the far post. Grant Anderson got above his marker and sent a looping header back across goal from 6 yards. There wasn’t much pace on the ball but the aim was perfect and it bounced gently into the side netting with the keeper watching on helpless.
The goal lifted the visitors and Cardle was unlucky to be flagged offside when he wasn’t. Fox was booked and after Morton wasted the free kick opportunity Cardle’s cross was headed over by Elliot. In the 87th Elliot was played in and getting goal side of his marker angled a great low shot for the far post. Caraux – who’d been idle much of the game – did very well to get down and push the net bound effort away. Anderson’s attempt from the following corner was too high.
As time ran out both sides failed to capitalise on breaks, then Page flashed a header across the Raith goal from a free kick and Cardle failed to get his dead ball attempt past the defensive wall.
This was not a classic match and the Rovers looked jaded. The home side had better chances and the equaliser when it came was hardly merited but the Rovers did end the game better. The travelling fans left happy to take something from the match no doubt thinking of many occasions when Raith have played better without reward.
Lewis Vaughan – as we like to call him – really made a difference not just setting up the goal but his effort raised the whole team. Watson and Hill did well at the back against their unknown opponent. Grant Anderson has been on the end of some pretty hefty challenges during the last couple of home games but has stuck to his task and it was good to see him rewarded with a goal. He like most of the squad will be looking forward to a midweek without a game to recover from their early season exertions.
After Tuesday this was not a match to remind Rovers fans why we love the game but at least it was football and not other shenanigans that was the topic of conversation on the road home.
Report – John Mainland, Picture – Eddie Doig
Copyright Eddie Doig