Rovers More Than Match Dens Men
The Rovers support negotiated road works and fog as they converged on Dundee. The early birds got into the cramped old stand and tried to find spots where the pillars obscured less important parts of the pitch while the late comers just had to make do with the remaining seats.
A minute of applause honoured the passing of a well known Dee fan Willie Reilly, the home shirts had his name across on the back. The Rovers line-up was unchanged except for Damian Casalinuovo coming in for the suspended Brian Graham and the game kicked off in hazy sunshine
The Rovers showed their intent winning an early corner and Baird’s effort from the edge of the box wasn’t one of his best. The fans of both teams were distracted for a moment by the arrival of a number of home fans in fancy dress, an alien, Fred Flintstone, Captain America and a bloke who I thought had come as ex-Rover Mark Humphreys but I was assured it was the Honey Monster. Undistracted big Damian got into the box where McKeown tackled well and removed the danger. With the first home attack the ball was shuttled from one wing to the other where Irvine was not closed down and he had time to cross. Finnigan rose well 12 yards out and angled his header into the side netting to McGurn’s right. It was a great placed effort leaving the keeper with no chance.
Allan Walker saw his ball into the area only a minute later headed clear then Dundee had two goes at putting a good ball into the danger zone before a shot went wide. Despite the set-back of the goal and the Rovers lowly league position there was no sign of heads going down.
Davidson’s free kick went into the wall marking only the 10th minute. In the 14th Irvine shot at goal but it was well wide and the home fans – normally dressed or otherwise – had a long wait for another effort by their men. Raith saw Douglas come and take a couple of dangerous high balls and then McGregor was turned by Casalinuovo before the referee penalised the big South American – to the surprise of the away fans. McCluskey got into the Raith box but Hill mopped up as the play was more and more taking place in the Dee half. Dyer dashed onto an, erm, poorly aimed Davidson shot and fired the ball into the box, the ball was half cleared and the pressure was removed by an offside flag. Willie’s dash to the ball typified the attitude of the Rovers players – they were working hard.
Next a short free kick saw Baird’s run and low cross catch out some of the home players but not Rab Douglas who dove to gather. Some good passing was abruptly ended with a heavy foul on Jason Thomson at the sideline as murmurs of dissent began in the home stands. Finnigan showed restraint when he tangled with Hill as he tried to get involved in the game. In the 35th minute Dundee won a corner despite Conroy looking offside in the build up. This was not the catalyst the Dee fans hoped for as Thomson was played in by Walker whose cross was headed wide by Casalinuovo. Good play again saw Murray free in space on the far side and he played an inviting low ball across the box but managed to find the only angle that eluded everyone!
Dens front men Finnigan and Milne were hardly involved and the former went for a ball when Thomson was clear favourite. Finnigan’s
enthusiasm to make something happen saw him injured and he was replaced after treatment by Hyde in the 42nd minute. Another Dee foul saw a mini-stramash in the 18 yard box but the ball was cleared. Going into injury time Thomson got enough space to put the ball into the near post for Damian. Caslinuovo saw his first close range effort blocked but reacted quickest and put the ball past Douglas into the net. The equaliser was deserved and saw all but one Raith fan off their seat in celebration.
The Rovers support cheered their men down the tunnel below them obscuring what were probably more negative noises from the home fans…
Home Manager Barry Smith won’t have wanted his lads to let the Rovers pick up where they left off in the second half. The Rovers had other ideas and Damian was quickly onto a dangerous ball, his effort into the side netting had most of the Raith fans on their feet but this time it was the outside of the net. McKeown did well sliding in on the big ex-United man when he’d jinked past him into the box and the former Clyde man will have been pleased the referee didn’t add to the Rovers corner count. Next to threaten were – yes – the Rovers again when Baird’s shot after a quick throw was gratefully clutched by Douglas.
As the visitors continued to belie their lowly league position Davidson angled a superb cross field pass to Thomson who sent another dangerous ball across the home goal. Raith created more opportunities Hamill received a short free kick in front of the Raith support but no-one got a meaningful contact. Ellis then got a good flick onto another Raith corner, the ball flashed across and away before being hoofed towards midfield. Midway through the half Dee sub Fotheringham saw his cross shot land on the roof of the net. The ex-Celtic trainee then managed the home side’s only decent effort of the second 45 when McGurn pushed his low drive away to safety. In between Baird had almost chased down a short back header that had Douglas scampering to take.
Pat Clarke came on for Damian then loanee Jonathon Stewart for Hill. The pattern was un-changed, Baird got on the end of a good
move winning another corner. John had a go from the corner but his volley on the turn was blocked away. In the 79thminute Jonathon Stewart controlled the ball well at the edge of the six yard box and slotted it past Douglas. However Baird and a solitary defender were with him and JB was adjudged to be offside so the ‘goal’ was chalked off.
Jamie Walker went on for Baird and like Douglas watched Grant Murray’s shot from 22 yards fizz past the near post agonisingly just wide. As the clock wound down still the Rovers pushed for a winner and Clarke was next to worry big Rab when his dipping drive
from 26 went just past the far post, again the keeper was powerless. The traffic was still in one direction, Hamill got into the box and saw his shot spin away after hitting Jamie Walker.
The game ended 1:1 with the Rovers attacking play being shown by their 7 corners to the home sides 4. Illustrating the gulf in possession the Rovers were penalised 8 times compared with 18 fouls by the home side. As an ex-defender Dee boss Barry Smith will be happy his back four kept a good line with the Rovers being caught offside 10 times, his side weren’t adjudged offside even once.
The Rovers fans came home through the fog disappointed with only a point however the Dee’s Captain America and his comic-book pals will have marvelled that the home side got anything.
Report John Mainland. Pictures Eddie Doig.
Pictures Eddie Doig