Raith Get First Win Of The Summer
Raith Rovers won their first pre-season friendly since July 2010 this afternoon, with a 2-0 win over Brechin City, in an entertaining fixture at Glebe Park.
Rovers manager, Gary Locke was forced into changes from Tuesday evening’s defeat at Forfar, with both Mark Stewart and Kevin McHattie picking up knocks during the 2-0 loss.
As a consequence, David Bates started at left-back, while Craig Barr, who’d just returned from his honeymoon, partnered Kyle Benedictus in the heart of the defence.
Lewis Vaughan was up-front on his own, although the wide players, Bobby Barr and Chris Johnston were tasked not only with supporting him, but also to supply the striker with an abundance of cross balls.
The home side featured a sprinkling of former Rovers, with Elliot Ford starting at left-back, while the well-kent face of Dougie Hill started at centre-half.
As is the norm with these matches, the game started at a fairly pedestrian pace, with neither side testing the opposition goalkeeper during the early exchanges.
Bobby Barr, who was returning to his former club, made good headway down the left after seven minutes, but his low cross was clattered to safety before the lurking Vaughan could make anything of it.
Raith were looking neat and tidy in possession, with the majority of their play concentrated on the deck, but they were failing to create many openings. At the other end, Brechin were having similar problems, although a couple of set-pieces had caused some consternation amongst the visiting team.
It was the 20th minute before either side fashioned a shot of note, with Bobby Barr letting one fly from approximately 25-yards, an effort which curled well over, forcing a Brechin supporting squire behind the goals into evasive action.
By this point the game had picked up a notch-or-three, and Brechin advanced straight down the park, almost taking the lead through a Hill header. Once again, a set-piece was swung towards the back post, and the ex-Raith defender’s effort was drifting in if not for the full-length intervention of Kevin Cuthbert.
Finn Graham then tried his luck from distance, but his wayward drive didn’t require Cuthbert’s attention this time.
Rovers were toiling with Ally Love’s set-piece deliveries, and another in the 30th minute saw Darren McCormack’s header cleared off the line.
A moment later, Alan Trouten then had a few yards of space inside the box, but despite the goal looming large in-front of him, he chose a different option, possibly inspired by Hal Robson-Kanu against Belgium, he dragged the ball back in an attempted Cruyff turn.
He may need a little more practise with that manoeuvre though, as he turned straight into Craig Barr who hoofed the ball into a tree.
The match was now an evenly contested end-to-end-affair, and Vaughan almost blasted Rovers in-front with ten minutes of the half remaining. Johnston pulled the ball back to him on the right, and while his first touch teed himself up, his second on the volley fizzed just wide.
However, Raith did take the lead a few moments later, with a similarly worked strike. Johnston received the ball with his back to goal and a defender in close proximity, but he showed good technique to twist and wriggle away from his marker, and force the ball past George Bell, to hand Rovers the advantage going into the interval.
Rovers made two changes at half-time, with Jonny Court and Aaron Lennox replacing Craig Barr and Cuthbert, and the replacement goalkeeper would have a hectic opening to the half.
Brechin started it very much in the ascendency, and Paul McLean should have done better with a header a few yards out, but his downward effort failed to trouble Lennox.
Finn Graham then tried his luck with a 30-yard free-kick, and his ambitious effort wasn’t too far over the crossbar.
Brechin brought on Andy Jackson in the 50th minute, and the forward made an immediate impact, rifling a shot from distance just past the post, before a flurry of chances all went begging for Brechin in a matter of seconds, with a stramash inside the area that was eventually cleared to safety.
Rovers introduced A Trialist for Johnston, and a few moments later, they forced a save from Bell, when Court fed the ball to Vaughan, who did well to swivel away from his marker, before driving a low shot into the keeper’s arms.
After a brief spell where they’d been on the ropes, Rovers were on top again, and a great run and cross from Jason Thomson, was met with an equally excellent volley from Vaughan, but his first-time effort was a smidgen too high.
With quarter-of-an-hour remaining, Brechin had a remarkable escape, when a corner was swung into the area, and despite goalkeeper, Bell lying on the ground, three Raith players, took it in turns to swing madly at the ball, with each one failing to turn it home from two yards. The ball was then only half cleared, before another cross was met by Benedictus, whose header was somehow stopped on the line.
Brechin manager, Darren Dod elected to swap his goalkeeper straight after, with Bell being replaced by Ben Tough, but the replacement made a poor first impression.
Scampering off his line to claim a cross from Ross Matthews, he was beaten in the air by the somewhat more diminutive, Vaughan, who guided the ball into the net via the back of his noggin to make it two.
The remaining ten minutes were then played out in a rain deluge of quite remarkable proportions, with the full-time whistle something of a relief to the now drookit and bedraggled players.
Raith’s next friendly fixture will be at Stark’s Park on Tuesday evening, when Partick Thistle will be the visitors.
© Eddie Doig 2016