Double Seals Comeback
Raith Rovers boosted their first division survival aspirations with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Hamilton Accies at Stark’s Park this afternoon.
In truth, this was the proverbial game of two halves. However, rather than wallow in such predictable clichés, Rovers fans will understandably consider this to be three points that just might prove crucial in their attempt to secure first division status next season.
To say the match commenced at a pedestrian pace would be to afford credit beyond its due. Indeed, the opening moments were devoid of interest, as the sides quickly became embroiled in a dour battle of midfield tete-a-tete.
The opening exchanges offered little to write home about, although Rovers striker John Baird tried his level best to raise the interest with a swift turn and shot from 20 yards, which Accies keeper David Hutton dealt with comfortably.
Despite an uneventful start, Accies unexpectedly took the lead on 25 minutes. A free-kick out on the left caused unnecessary panic in the Rovers defence, and Mark McLauglin had the simplest of tasks when he stooped to head the ball beyond a flat-footed David McGurn in the Rovers goal from eight yards.
In truth, the goal was merited on the basis that Rovers had singularly failed to exert any meaningful pressure on the Hamilton defence during an insipid first half – the Kirkcaldy faithful were silenced by the poverty of the home side’s performance in an opening 45 minutes that did little to lift their spirits on a cold afternoon.
Nevertheless, those wishing a reversal of Rovers’ fortunes during the interval would not have been disappointed, as Rovers started the second half firmly on the front foot. Hamill had been replaced by Jamie Walker. Iain Davidson incurred the wrath of the referee for an innocuous-looking foul, but, after 50 minutes, Rovers levelled the score. A long pass down the right-hand side evaded the Accies defence as well as the linesman’s flag, and Damien Casalinuovo showed commendable composure to lift the ball over the advancing keeper into the net from a tight angle.
Rovers’ tails were up, and they took the game to their opponents. And, within five minutes, they went ahead. A searching cross deep into the Accies box was flicked on by the predatory Casalinuovo, and Allan Walker darted into the area to side foot a shot into the far corner of the net from ten yards.
The old adage of goals changing games never rang more true, as Rovers exerted pressure on the Accies defence. Jamie Walker hit the post with a curling effort having created space at the edge of the box. The game ebbed and flowed and, as the home fans anxiously checked their watches, Man of the Match Casalinuovo was replaced with Pat Clarke with five minutes remaining. Shortly afterwards, Walker was replaced with Iain Williamson as Rovers sought to run down the clock.
Hamilton pushed for an equaliser, although they failed to seriously trouble McGurn in the Rovers goal. Nevertheless, the final whistle was greeted with a mixture of joy and relief by the Rovers faithful.
Results elsewhere meant that Rovers jumped into eighth place in the league as a result of this home win. For all that the win was ultimately a triumph of perspiration over inspiration, the feeling persisted that, despite there being yet much to play for, this was a victory that may prove to be hugely influential come the end of the season.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Davidson, Hill, Ellis, Dyer, Murray, A Walker (Williamson 89), Hamill (J Walker 46), Baird, Casalinuovo (Clarke 86). Subs Not Used: Laidlaw, Graham
YC: Ellis, Davidson, Thomson.
Hamilton: Hutton, McLaughlin (Gillespie 66), Mensing, Canning, Hendrie, Routledge, Redmond (Stewart 83), Neil, McAlister, Ryan, McShane (Longridge 80). Subs Not Used: Blair Currie, MacGregor.
Report Donald Ramsay
Pictures – Tony Fimister with thanks to Iain Martin for snapping DC’s lob.
Photos copyright Tony Fimister & Ian Martin
John McGlynn spoke about a classic Game of Two Halves.
Dougie Hill reflects on the recent performances, and what’s needed to stay clear of the bottom of the league.