Rovers lads on the spot
Raith Rovers hosted Dunfermline Athletic in the Fife Cup semi-final this evening.
On a mild but windy evening both sides fielded an under 20 team from their Development League squads.
Youth played a major part in Development Coach Craig Easton’s Rovers squad – Rovers starting lineup consisting of a 15 and 16 year old, with the remainder all 17 and 18 years old. The starting 11 comprised 3 Trialists, with all 3 substitutes also sharing that same surname.
Dunfermline’s starting line – up had notable inclusions in the hugely experienced Farid El Alagui playing up front, and the formidable figure of former Cowdenbeath and ICT man Nat Wedderburn in a holding midfield role as the over-aged players in the Pars lineup.
Rovers started the game attacking the McDermid Stand end, and in the 2nd minute the Pars had the first shot of the game – number 11 shooting wide after a strong run through the middle.
5 minutes later Jonny Court got free in the box and shot across the goal, the ball going out of play just wide of the far post.
On the 11th minute Court’s strike partner, Yaw Osei, went down in a challenge and was unable to continue after receiving treatment, making the long trek round the pitch on crutches (assisted by physio Stuart Phn) to the tunnel and the treatment table. His replacement, Trialist no. 14, was to eventually have a big impact on the game.
The next 15 minutes were to see Dunfermline seeing more of the ball than Rovers, with El Alagui prominent as the main striker – occupying the attentions of Rovers centre back pairing of Dave McKay and Trialist no. 6
Rovers Trialist ‘keeper had to be alert on more than one occasion to deal with well – delivered crosses under pressure from the experienced El Alagui.
On the 28th minute the deadlock was broken – a searching cross was met by El Alagui who sent a looping header into the Rovers goal for the lead: Rovers 0 – 1 Pars.
Rovers came back into the game after the goal, but the next significant action was the withdrawal of Jack Smith from the midfield on the 36th minute to be replaced by Trialist no. 12
Pars ended the first half on the front foot, their no. 10 having 2 good headers on target that were wide and high respectively.
The second half started with Pars no. 10 in a 1:1 with the Rovers goalie, but the shot was straight at the ‘keeper. Ryan Stevenson then had a free kick from the left but he overcooked his effort and Court was unable to reach the ball.
Dunfermline’s number 3 then had his first enterprising run down the left, using good footwork to get the better of Rovers Trialist no. 2.
Rovers responded with Court being played in down the left and winning a corner after Wedderburn was crowded out in midfield. The resultant corner was headed clear from the middle of the box, however.
Trialist no. 14 then had a strong run that forced a corner, resulting in the Pars keeper making a point blank save from Thorsen to thwart the Rovers midfielder.
A goal was in the offing, and on the 59th minute great link – up play by Jonny Court allowed Trialist no. 14 a run at goal from deep, ending with a run across the 18 yard line and a finish low to the keepers right. Rovers 1 – 1 Pars.
After over an hour had passed El Alagui jinked his way into the box forcing a save high to the keepers right before deservedly getting his name taken and a yellow card against his name for simulation when attempting to win a penalty.
Court and Thorsen then shot wide and straight respectively at the keeper in the space of 2 minutes before a stramash in the Rovers box ended with the ball being cleared by a relieved Rovers defence.
The last notable chances of the 90 minutes were shared between the Pars no. 11 shooting wide and Jonny Court whose marauding run down the left resulted in a corner that came to nothing.
The format of Fife Cup ties is for the game to go straight to a penalty shootout, and it was Rovers that triumphed 5 – 4.
McKay, Court, Berry and Stevenson all dispatched the ball neatly into the net with Trialist no. 2 having his effort saved
For the Pars, no. 4 had his penalty saved, with no. 14 shooting over the crossbar when the shootout went to sudden death.
A crowd of 500 applauded the young Rovers team off, who will play in the Fife Cup Final at a later date.
Photographs © Tony Fimister 2016