Connolly Slays Lions
After recent alterations to kick off times lately a rather disorientated Rovers support arrived in Livingston for a Sunday match, kicking off at lunchtime. Quite a number turned up in fancy dress as is the growing tradition for the end of the season. The hosts have had a poor season with their previous match a win over Rangers being a rare highlight. As the home side focussed on avoiding the drop the Rovers have their sights set of promotion.
With Benedictus suspended there were three other changes from the starting line up against Falkirk. Also missing were Joel Thomas and Scott Robertson who weren’t kitted and Harry Panayiotou moved to the bench. In came Hardie up front, Connolly, Toshney and Callachan in midfield meaning Davidson moved to centre half alongside Barr.
The first chance fell to the home side with Sheerin getting onto a ball over the top but Barr and Davidson combined to remove the danger. The Rovers first threatened when Hardie saw his shot blocked, the follow up from Longridge was also blocked. A dangerous ball was whipped into the home box before the hosts centre halves conspired to take each other out when Halkett was booted by Neill, requiring treatment.
Halkett then slipped and Hardie almost played in Connolly. From the resulting corner Connolly tried to set up Barr. Hardie then played in Craigen who volleyed high and wide from 18 yards. By then the trend had been set with the Rovers pegging back their opponents in their half. Other than a more than optimistic 30 yard effort from Dundee United loanee Charlie Telfer there was nothing for Cuthbert to deal with. Callachan shot low, Barr headed over then Ross ran at and beat a couple of men before passing to Connolly who’s effort wasn’t as good as the build up. Longridge, who was eager throughout, set up Connolly with a clever cut back from the bye line. Aiden somehow managed to miss the ball completely with the goal gaping.
Barr was winning a lot of set piece headers and found Davidson who’s ball into the six yard box was cleared. In the 39th minute McKeown overlapped past Craigen and despite falling onto his behind Rory managed to play the ball back to his team mate in a position more akin to gently relaxing on a chaise longue than competitive sport. Barr, Craigen, Longridge and Toshney all had a go before Davidson did well diving to block a Livvy shot 27 minutes after their previous one. Despite seven corners and numerous efforts somehow the Rovers went in at half time drawing with the ex-works team.
The second half began with another foray forward by Sheerin, who out muscled Davidson only to see Cuthbert push away his effort. James Craigen was removed in the 49th minute with Mark Stewart making a welcome return from injury. In the 51st minute Thomson passed short to Longridge who did well getting into the box before angling a shot across goal towards the far post. To make certain Aiden Connolly ran in and put the ball into the net from all of a yard or so.
Longridge was taken out by Fotheringham and the referee played advantage but raised eyebrows for not penalising the home man when play broke down. After recovering from the hefty challenge two minutes later Louis bundled into his assailant and was booked for his rather lesser offence… A home man was booked having had a throw in taken away from him after he wandered down the sideline – he was overly keen to express his views to the man with the whistle. Strangely Buchanan, who’d come off the bench, wasn’t penalised for a late lunge at Thomson – the Raith support were less forgiving.
Midway through the half Longridge was replaced by Panayiotou. Moments later however another change was required when Barr put a header just over and in the process got a head knock which he recovered from but Craig was replaced by Matthews as Toshney moved into the centre half spot. Stewart moved to wide left as the Rovers re-organised.
In the 76th minute Livvy won their first corner which fell to White who shot wide from only 6 yards. Then as Rory was shepherding the ball out he was unceremoniously shoved to the ground in front of the linesman. Unhindered by whistle or flag the home man crossed and the ball which was scrambled away. Young Lion Knox curled a shot wide before Harry set up Connolly who’s effort from 18 yards was blocked bravely by a home man.
As time ran down Stewart headed a deep cross back into the six yard box. Davidson then headed wide getting on the end of a deep free kick then Hardie tried to bundle his way into the box before being impeded by a home man who wasn’t penalised. The Rangers loanee then got the ball caught up in his feet only six yards out. The last chances fell to Currie who shot wide and Connolly saw a viciously stuck effort half blocked into the hands of the home keeper.
The final whistle saw the curtain come down on the regular season. Thirty six games have seen more highs than lows as the Rovers finished fourth above a couple of more fancied sides. How much longer the season goes on will be up to the management team and players, helped along the way by Rovers fans (for whom fancy dress will be optional).
RaithTV spoke with the Manager after the 1-0 win away to Livi
Raith Rovers are on their travels this weekend, to the Tony Macaroni Stadium, for their final league match of the season.
For the second week in succession, Ray McKinnon’s men will be facing off against a side that features in the upcoming play-offs, although unlike Falkirk, Livingston will be involved in the battle to stay in the Championship.
Despite a spate of poor results in recent weeks which has seen Dumbarton pull away from David Hopkin’s side, Livingston will go into Sunday’s match with a spring in their step, after their 1-0 midweek win over Championship winners Rangers. As do Raith of course, whose draw last weekend against Falkirk meant the side had now went 10 games without loss. In fact, the last time the team lost to anyone except Rangers was a 1-0 reverse to Alloa back in January.
The three previous meetings against Livingston this season have been a mixed bag for Raith, although they have won on two occasions compared to Livi’s one.
The first fixture between the two was in August, with Rovers running out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Mark Stewart, a penalty from Ryan McCord and a last-minute effort from Mitch Megginson.
The return outing at the Tony Macaroni in October was a different matter altogether however, with the home side taking all three points in a reasonably comfortable manner. Jordan White scored a brace and Declan Gallagher the other as the Amber Machine replicated Raith’s 3-0 win from August.
The most recent meeting was in February, and ended up as a 2-0 win for Raith after a dominant performance, featuring strikes from Stewart and Aidan Connolly.
This has left the recent head-to-head record as four wins for Raith to six wins for Livingston, and those results suggest they’ll be a winner one way or another on Sunday, as the last draw between the two was back in 2012.
Sunday’s match referee will be Craig Charleston.
Head-to-Head League Record at the Tony Macaroni Stadium:
Livingston Wins: 6 | Raith Rovers Wins: 4 | Draws: 3
Livingston Goals: 20 | Raith Rovers Goals: 13
Raith Rovers: W-W-D-W-W-D
Livingston: Jordan White 14 | Liam Buchanan 12
Raith Rovers: Mark Stewart 10 | James Craigen 9 | Ryan Hardie 6
Livingston: 31/20 | Raith Rovers: 8/5 | Draw: 13/5