A half each + two goals each = a point each
A good friend of mine’s young son was attending his first match today as a third generation Dundee United fan. He hopefully enjoyed the match in the sunshine at Tannadice, the Raith support however didn’t enjoy the first half…
Having filled the gap between the sticks due to the injury to Aaron Lennox with debutant Conor Brennan, the starting line up was the same as for the Fife Derby. Managed by Ex-Rovers Ray McKinnon and Laurie Ellis, Lewis Toshney lined up at right back for the home side. Toshney attracted some attention from the decent sized and vocal Raith support behind the goal at the Dens Park end.
Within a minute of kickoff the Rovers were in the United box but the home side scrambled the ball away. In the sixth minute home man Cammy Smith – who had a good game – got goal side running in from the corner of the Raith box. From the press box the challenge on him by a Raith man looked like a stonewall penalty but Referee Craig Thomson, who was rather nearer, awarded the Rovers a free kick and booked the man in tangerine for diving. This did not go down too well with the home support. M’voto miss-controlled in the twelth minute and Simon Murray ran in on the angle. His driven shot was pushed away by Brennan, a home man following up saw his shot blocked before a dangerous cross was headed away by a United man. This encouraged the home side who were pushing on pressuring the visiting backline throughout. Cammy Smith did well then drove a shot into the side netting as the Arabs began to dominate.
In the sixteenth minute a free kick on the far side was swung into the Raith box, headed clear it fell to Willo Flood who from twenty one yards fired the ball into the net leaving Brennan no chance. Vaughan and McManus combined on a rare attack which was ended by a Toshney foul. Vaughan fired the resulting free kick just over the bar. Another rare flurry forward saw United break up the other end and Benedictus had to be alert to put the ball out for a corner. The corner was swung in and knocked to McManus who facing goal tried to take a second touch as he was quickly closed down. His attempted touch made contact with the home man and Craig Thomson rightly awarded a penalty. Cammy Smith stepped up and put the ball to the right past the diving Brennan. At 2:0 down with only twenty one minutes gone things were looking good for McKinnon’s men.
In the twenty fourth minute a man was sent off – Raith Assistant Manager Darren Jackson was sent to the stand for his response to a studs up challenge on Matthews by Coll Donaldson. The home defender was booked but Darren was with barely a word from the whistler sent down the tunnel. Having started 4-4-2 the Rovers changed formation with Barr and Vaughan wider and McManus in the middle. Callaghan was booked for a sliding foul on Flood as the Rovers still struggled to get any grip on the game. In the thirty first minute Benedictus was crowded out by two home men who skipped goal ward unopposed before an offside flag prevented another goal scoring opportunity.
Still second best a shot from McHattie forced Bell to dive full length after it deflected off Dixon just past for a corner. Three minutes later a Rovers free kick was knocked away by the home defence towards Jordan Thompson, the loanee struck a first time volley superbly the angled drive flashed past Bell into the net. Still United pushed on and twice M’voto was robbed under pressure and the second time a dangerous free kick whipped across the Raith goal without finding a home man. By then another tactical change had taken place with Thompson moving from his central role to wide and Ross Matthews sitting in a deep central midfield role.
The Rovers support were relieved to hear the half time whistle having seen their boys in blue outplayed for much of the first half. No-one in the 7,434 crowd could have argued that visitors were anything other than lucky to be only a goal behind. The home fans will have been hoping for more of the same while the visiting support feared exactly that…
The second half began with McManus nicking the ball off Donaldson only to see his cross cleared to Thompson who’s first time shot wasn’t as good as his previous effort. Barr looked lively then McManus got on the end a ball with his back to goal knowing the home keeper was closing him down his over head kick attempt was blocked. In the fifty first minute Vaughan’s free kick from the far side had Bell panicked in goal as it zipped just past the top corner. As the Rovers continued to work hard it was United’s turn to be on the back foot. A United counter was against the flow then M’voto’s diving header went past from a corner.
As the Rovers good play continued Robson was booked as his arm stopped Vaughan’s clever ball past him. Midway through the half Mark Stewart and Rudi Skacel replaced Vaughan and Thompson. Within moments Stewart skinned a defender and his cross was headed up and then cleared. Again the Rovers pressed with M’voto passing to McManus just outside the box, with good close control he eluded a couple of home men before rolling the ball to Kevin McHattie. Running onto the ball he took a touch and from twenty four yards smashed the ball into the net. Thompson’s strike was superb but McHattie’s sublime goal eclipsed it by some margin. The home fans were by this stage very quiet as the Rovers support continued to make more and more noise. Hopefully the first time fan didn’t hear clearly the “Two nil and you messed it up” song.
United tried to get back into the match and had their best chance of the second period in the seventy fifth minute when Smith played in van de Velden but Brennan was quick to narrow the angle and block away a low shot with his feet. With twelve minutes left Davidson replaced McManus who had worked hard throughout. Dillon fouled Stewart who moments later had a go on the turn but his effort went wide. Barr, who had also put in a good shift, sent over a deep cross as Skacel rose heading back across goal but agonisingly the effort landed on the top of the net.
As time ran down it was still the Rovers who were looking the better side, despite a falling out between Davidson and van de Velden. Skacel almost beat Bell to the end of a Stewart flick that could have seen a winner for the side that looked so out of it an hour before. Barr was booked for blocking a United man trying to take a quick throw then McHattie took a heavy knock during a stramash in the Raith box. The last action saw Barr scampering forward only to be felled by Spittal who was rightly booked.
The final whistle saw the Rovers maintain their unbeaten League run as the much fancied hosts still try to get the hang of the Championship. My pals wee one will probably have to go to quite a few more games before he sees a better example of a game of two halves and a fair number before he sees some better goals. He may have the Rovers as his second team – if his Mum has anything to do with it – just don’t tell his Dad!
© Eddie Doig 2016
RaithTV chatted with the Gaffer after the 2-2 draw with Dundee United
Top-of-the-table Raith Rovers are back on the road this week, as as they head to Tannadice to face Ray McKinnon’s Dundee United.
Despite impressive progression in the League Cup, the former Raith boss has made a mixed start in the league, with his new charges winning just one of their three Championship fixtures so far
That came last weekend, in a one-sided 3-0 win over Ayr United, with goals coming from Simon Murray, Jamie Robson and Willo Flood..
With the Tangerines squad more-or-less emptied out over the summer, McKinnon faced a hard task to rebuild the team, with this season’s side unsurprisingly featuring a wealth of new signings.
Goalkeeper Cammy Bell was acquired from Rangers, while the right-back berth has been filled by a player who impressed at Stark’s Park last term, Lewis Toshney.
In midfield, Stewart Murdoch and Willo Flood have formed a formidable partnership in the middle of the park after they were signed from Ross County and Aberdeen respectively, while Dutchman Nick van der Velden has impressed since joining from Willem II.
Up front, McKinnon can now call on the talents of ex-Kilmarnock striker, Tope Obadeyi, while Cammy Smith has been signed on loan, with the Aberdeen youngster bagging a hat-trick in the recent 3-1 victory over Partick Thistle.
This will be the first time the two sides have met on league duty since the 1996-97 campaign, although they were paired together far more recently in the 2010 Scottish Cup semi-final, when goals from David Goodwillie and Andy Webster cemented a 2-0 win on their way to winning the trophy.
A win on Saturday would match Raith’s start to the 2010/11 season, when the club won its first four matches, on its way to finishing second in the First Division.
Raith Rovers have won three of the last ten league meetings between the pair, with two others ending all-square.
Saturday’s match referee will be Craig Thomson.
Head-To-Head League Record At Tannadice:
Dundee United Wins: 13 | Raith Rovers Wins: 5 | Draws: 3
Dundee United Goals: 65 | Raith Rovers Goals: 39
Dundee United: D-W-D-W-L-W
Raith Rovers: W-D-L-W-W-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Dundee United: Simon Murray 5 | Callum Smith 4 | Henri Anier 2
Raith Rovers: Ross Callachan 2 | Declan McManus 2 | Lewis Vaughan 2
Dundee United: 8/11 | Raith Rovers: 7/2 | Draw: 29/10