Chills But No Thrills At The Indodrill
Raith Rovers stretched their unbeaten sequence to four matches, as they ground out a 0-0 draw at the Indodrill Stadium against Alloa Athletic.
Manager Grant Murray went with the same starting XI which began last weekend’s 2-1 win over Dumbarton, but while that match was prominent for Raith’s excellent start, the same couldn’t really be said of this one.
Alloa were arguably out the blocks quicker, but neither side looked particularly adept in the opening stages, and the general lack of control from both teams was summed up by the ball being blootered into the parking area of the adjacent KFC restaurant.
It wasn’t lacking in endeavour, with Ross Callachan snapping and snarling into challenges in the middle of the park, and the play was reasonably end-to-end, but it was all a bit thud-and-blunder.
In a match that was high on half-chances, it was Rovers who encountered the first one, although it was the home side who fashioned it for them. Kyle Benedictus made an uncharacteristic error, gifting possession to Mark Stewart, although the defender made amends and cleared the danger.
Alloa also created the next chance, but this time it was for themselves, when Graeme Holmes managed to pick out Kevin Cawley, but the midfielder’s shot was blocked.
Holmes had started the match brightly, and he was involved again soon after, teeing up Liam Buchanan, who hit a first-time half-volley just past David McGurn’s left-hand post.
Rovers did however start to impose themselves the longer the half went on. Dougie Hill sent a header into the side-netting from a Rory McKeown throw, then good work from Anderson down the wing, amounted to little after his cut-back was intercepted.
The same player then flashed a shot wide after getting into a good position, and suddenly, after an indifferent start, Murray’s men looked to be the more dominant side.
That said, Alloa almost took the lead after half-an-hour. Ex-Raith player Stephen Simmons found Ryan McCord in the box, and while his attempt was blocked, the rebound fell to Mark Docherty, whose volley was headed over by Hill.
As the opening period was drawing to a close, Raith squandered a golden opportunity to go into the interval with a slender advantage. Good work on the left by Calum Elliot, allowed him to play in Mark Stewart, but he seemed caught in two minds whether to shoot, or play in a colleague, and the chance was spurned.
Alloa started on the front foot in the second half, with McCord shooting just wide of the target from a tight angle, before Darryll Meggatt did exactly the same, although his 30-yard effort looked to be heading in when it left his boot, although McGurn appeared to have it covered.
With Alloa now on top, Mark Docherty was the next to have a go, but his attempt was blocked by Elliot’s leg, which on a chilly Clackmannanshire afternoon, must have provided the forward with quite the sting.
McCord was constantly making himself available for the Wasps, although at times his final ball was sloppy and wasteful, as was shown after an hour, when his wild shot was shanked over the bar after good work by Buchanan.
A few minutes later, and with Rovers showing little forward momentum, Elliot was replaced with Christian Nade.
He almost made an immediate impact, when Paul Watson nodded a Conroy free-kick down to him inside the area, but his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Simmons.
Rory McKeown then had to do the same thing at the other end, when a Docherty set-piece was won in the box by Simmons, but the Northern Irish under-21 international managed to block Buchanan’s close range attempt.
Although Nade had added some much-needed vim and vigour up front, it was still the home side who were in the ascendency, and while they looked the likelier to score, the Raith rearguard defended stoutly, with the minutes ticking away.
Buchanan managed to pop up on Alloa’s right-hand side, and he picked out Cawley in the area, but his attempt was ferreted wide.
Grant Murray made his second change with ten minutes remaining, with Barrie McKay coming on for Ryan Conroy, but the momentum of the match remained the same, with Raith’s attacks being snuffed out at the source.
Paul Watson had to be alert to intercept a Buchanan cut-back, with substitute Greig Spence waiting to pounce, and there was a scare at the end, when Simmons injury-time shot from distance, whizzed just past the post.
In truth however, it was a match where neither side did enough to merit taking all three points, but the shared spoils did do some good for both teams. Rovers moved further clear of Dumbarton, while Alloa moved within striking distance of ninth placed Cowdenbeath.
Rovers unbeaten run will get its biggest test yet next week, when they travel to Easter Road, to play Hibernian.
©Eddie Doig 2015
Raith Rovers head to Recreation Park this Saturday, looking for their fourth consecutive league win, a feat they haven’t achieved since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. They have enjoyed a slightly longer run more recently, with five consecutive league wins, but they were spread over the end of the 2011-12 season, and the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign.
Goals from Ryan Conroy and Grant Anderson helped Rovers to a 2-1 win over Dumbarton last weekend, but they were made to fight all the way for the three points, withstanding a late Dumbarton comeback, that featured a Mitch Megginson goal.
Alloa on the other hand are without a league win since November, but they were unlucky to lose against Rangers last Saturday, where a good performance was ultimately undone by the 1-0 defeat.
This will be the third time the two clubs have met this season, and Raith have yet to lose against the Clackmannanshire side. Rovers won on their last visit to the Rec’ in August thanks to an early goal from Ryan Conroy, but the points were shared in October, after Grant Anderson grabbed an equaliser, after Liam Buchanan put the Wasps in front.
A win for ninth placed Alloa, could see them leapfrog Cowdenbeath into eighth, while a win for Raith Rovers, could potentially see them move to within three points of fourth place Queen of the South, depending on results elsewhere.
Games between these two opponents tend to be low scoring affairs, with just seven goals in the last five outings. However, Raith’s recent record in this fixture is impressive, with five wins and four draws from the last ten league meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Kevin Graham.
Head-to-Head League Record at Recreation Park:
Alloa Athletic wins: 17 | Raith Rovers wins: 22 | Draws: 6
Alloa Athletic goals: 72 | Raith Rovers goals: 83
Alloa Athletic: L-L-L-D-L-L
Raith Rovers: L-L-L-W-W-W
Top Goalscorers In All Competitions:
Alloa Athletic: Greig Spence 11 | Liam Buchanan 10
Raith Rovers: Ryan Conroy 7 | Christian Nade 5 | Mark Stewart 4
Alloa Athletic: 19/10 | Raith Rovers: 11/8 | Draw: 5/2