Raith’s Woes Continue
After appearing to have turned a corner-of-sorts with their midweek win over St. Mirren, Raith Rovers look to be back to square one again, after a dispiriting 4-0 loss to Dumbarton this afternoon.
Manager, John Hughes made two injury enforced changes to the side which won 2-0, with Ross Matthews and Ryan Hardie replacing Iain Davidson and Mark Stewart, but despite a similar looking side taking to Cheaper Insurance Direct pitch, they produced a performance which was vastly different to the last.
The Sons were out the blocks quickly, with Raith fortunate not to be a goal down after just a few minutes.
Sam Santon did the damage down the left-hand side, leaving Ross Matthews trailing in his wake, as he hit the bye-line before cutting it back to Calum Gallagher who was steaming in at the back-post.
However, Rovers received something of a let off, with the ball getting stuck in the treacle-like pitch, before being clattered to safety.
While that had been a close run thing, Dumbarton got the goal their opening forays deserved after seven minutes.
Gallagher was the creator this time, sprinting past a procession of challenges on the right, before slipping in a low cross which Robert Thomson gleefully knocked home first-time from close range.
Rovers were rocked on their heels at this point, and while they managed to stabilise things and began to keep some possession, they were struggling to create too many openings, something which has been their achilles heel so often this term.
Hardie did have a half-chance after 20 minutes after he was slipped through by Matthews, but from almost on the bye-line, there was insufficient angle to squeeze the ball past Alan Martin, who spread himself well to keep it out.
The big goalkeeper had to be at his best to stop an equaliser after 26 minutes though.
Bobby Barr’s corner was met with gusto by Jean Yves M’Voto, but at full stretch to his right, Martin somehow managed to claw the ball away, just as most Raith fans rose to acclaim the ‘goal.’
Rovers were arguably the better side at this point, but other than a Kyle Benedictus effort from distance which never troubled the Sons custodian, they’d little to show for their period of keep-ball.
That inability to turn possession into something tangible would prove costly as the interval approached.
They were almost two down after 35 minutes, when Christian Nade played a one-two with Andrew Stirling, but with just the Raith keeper to beat, Nade saw his low drive repelled by the legs of Pavol Penksa.
The Slovak came to the rescue again in the 43rd minute, when he excellently tipped over a shot from distance by Thomson, but he could do little from the corner-kick which followed, as Dumbarton doubled their advantage.
Stirling’s set-piece drifted over almost everyone who had assembled inside the box, but Thomson demonstrated excellent technique to crash a sublime volley back across goal and into the back-post, to give Raith a mountain to climb.
Goals have been hard to come by for Rovers this campaign, so closing a two goal deficit seemed like something of a long shot as the teams emerged for the second-half. However, their chances were to take an even bigger blow within moments of the restart.
Stanton picked up the ball midway inside the Raith half, and with the team backing off and backing off, he elected to try his luck from just outside the box.
His initial effort was blocked, but only as far as Thomson who had popped up on the left-hand side of Rovers penalty area, and his feathered cross into the penalty box was ideal for Stanton, who’d continued his run into the area, to poke home from close range.
Considering the way the opening period had gone, Rovers fans probably had some hope that the game could be turned at half-time, but even with over 40 minutes remaining, they were a busted flush.
Hughes did attempt to breathe some life into the listless showing, bringing on Rudi Skacel for Hardie, Yaw Osei for Chris Johnston and Scott Roberts for Ross Matthews, but nothing altered the direction of the match.
Raith had plenty of the ball, they even looked comfortable on it for large swathes of the half, but there was little in terms of chances, other than a few of the half variety.
Bobby Barr and Ross Callachan both should have done better when handed decent opportunities, with Barr cracking a shot against Tom Lang’s leg, while Callachan shot straight at Martin, and while one goal may just have planted a seed of doubt in the Dumbarton’s players minds, especially after their recent capitulation against Ayr United, it was never forthcoming.
Roberts did cause Martin some concern when his lifted cross-shot appeared to be dipping under the bar, but he confidently palmed it over, making it one of the few saves he actually had to make in the latter 45 minutes.
Raith’s misery was finally complete in the final minute, when Garry Fleming picked up the ball on the left flank, and was allowed to cut inside virtually unimpeded, before sashaying around Penksa and plonking it into the corner of the net.
The defeat sends Rovers back down the table to eighth, just four points ahead of Ayr United, who have played a game fewer than the Kirkcaldy club.
With Dundee United up next Saturday at Stark’s Park, it’ll take a massive upturn in performance if Raith are to take something from Ray McKinnon’s men.
© Eddie Doig 2017
After Raith Rovers put a stop to the rot on Wednesday evening against St. Mirren, they head to The Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium this weekend, looking to put even more points between themselves and the bottom of the table.
That 2-0 midweek win lifted Rovers up to seventh in the Championship standings, a point ahead of Steve Aitken’s men, and nine points above bottom-of-the-table St. Mirren.
However, Dumbarton have already taken four points from Raith this term, with a 3-1 win at Stark’s Park in January the last time they met, thanks to goals from Christian Nade, Daniel Harvie and Gregor Buchanan, after Ryan Hardie had given Raith the lead.
It was a different story in the first meeting this term, with Rovers roaring into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Kevin McHattie, Ross Callachan and Scott Roberts, although Dumbarton made Raith fans sweat in the second period, with Ryan Stevenson and Robert Thomson dragging The Sons back into the game.
Unusually for this fixture, there were no goals when the two teams met in November, with Gary Locke’s team slightly fortuitous to head back home with a point.
While Dumbarton go into the match on a run of just one defeat in five, that loss was just last weekend, and a heavy one at that, with a 5-1 reverse against Dunfermline. Prior to that, they’d picked up draws against St. Mirren, Ayr United and Falkirk, and that win over Raith.
One thing which may work in Rovers favour is Dumbarton’s scoring pattern, which sees them bag the vast majority of their goals on their travels. Indeed, they’re the second-tier’s top scorers away from home this season, but on their own patch they have the third lowest figure, with only Ayr United and St. Mirren scoring with less regularity at home.
Raith have a solid recent record in this fixture, with four wins and four draws from the last ten meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Alan Newlands.
Head-To-Head League Record At Dumbarton:
Dumbarton Wins: 27 | Raith Rovers Wins: 19 | Draws: 11
Dumbarton Goals: 123 | Raith Rovers Goals: 89
Raith Rovers: L-L-D-L-L-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Dumbarton: Robert Thomson 7 | Garry Fleming 5 | Mark Docherty 4
Raith Rovers: Mark Stewart 6 | Declan McManus 5 | Ryan Hardie 4
Dumbarton: 6/5 | Raith Rovers: 11/5 | Draw: 5/2