Rovers hit for 5 in Dingwall
After a turbulent week for the club in the wake of Barry Smith’s resignation, Rovers visited Dingwall with a very good recent record at The Global Energy Stadium. Interim Manager Kevin Cuthbert made two changes from last weeks fine 4-0 victory over Forfar, with Kyle Benedictus and Lewis Vaughan returning in place of Nathan Flanagan and Liam Buchanan. County made five changes from the side that defeated Falkirk 2-0 the previous weekend.
The Staggies marked their intent in the first minute with a great chance for former Rover Brian Graham who narrowly missed with a half volley. A minute later, Raith had a free kick from 30 yards and Vaughan went agonisingly close as his shot hit the top of the crossbar. The game was swinging from end to end and next up Sean Kelly had a great shot for the hosts that went narrowly wide and next Josh Mullin had a great chance after more fine play by the impressive Kelly. Rovers then went straight up the park and Chris Duggan had a speculative effort from 25 yards.
After a free kick was conceded by Grant Gillespie, County’s Davis Keillor-Dunn just missed from 25 yards out. You felt it was just a matter of time before the first goal and one minute later Graham opened the scoring with a volley from six yards in the 18th minute 1-0.
The onslaught continued and after slack play out of defence from the Rovers, Mullen shot just past. Next up, Graham had another great chance from a corner, but his header was brilliantly saved by Wright for another corner. This time Graham would not miss a second time and netted from close range as the resultant corner was not cleared 2-0.
The pressure was now relentless, and Graham was everywhere and just missed in the 35th minute with a flashing header. Two minutes later and it’s that man again, this time his effort crashes off the base of the post but Jamie Lindsay followed up from close range to make it 3-0.
Rovers lost their former striker Graham, who scored with another header from a corner to complete his hat trick, making the score 4-0 after 40 minutes.
Just when the 50 or so Rovers supporters felt things couldn’t get any worse, Graham again rose unchallenged to make it five and net his fourth of the day in the 42nd minute 5-0. The half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough and when it did the Rovers team looked utterly shell-shocked.
The second half started as the first ended with County on the front foot and the much-experienced Billy McKay went close with a shot into the side netting. In the 52nd minute, Ross County made their first change with Ross Stewart replacing the outstanding Brian Graham(delighted!!!!)
It didn’t take long for Stewart to get in on the act and he narrowly missed, heading over in the 56th minute. Rovers were now a bit tighter at the back with Wedderburn dropping back and providing much needed cover. In the 62nd minute Duggan had a great chance to pull one back but Munro makes a great save and the ball is cleared to safety.
Vaughan was replaced by Lewis Milne in the 68th minute and more valuable game time for Lewis was clocked up on his comeback from his recent injury.
The game was now starting to understandably fizzle out and Grant Gillespie received the first yellow card of the game after one illegal challenge too many.
With six minutes remaining, Rovers made a double substitution with Berry and Valentine replacing Nisbet and Watson.
One final piece of action came with a speculative overhead kick from Lindsay which Wright safely gathered.
The final whistle was blown and Ross County progress through to the third round draw of the Irn Bru Cup, which will be made on Tuesday afternoon after an utterly dominant performance.
From a Kirkcaldy point of view, there were not many positives to take today but the Rovers will not face many teams of the class played against today this season, and on this performance, County will be making a swift return to the Scottish Premiership.
One final point from your matchday reporter re our Interim Manager Kevin Cuthbert, who took charge today in very difficult circumstances: At the final whistle he sent over the whole team to respond to the small but loyal visiting support to show their appreciation on not our finest afternoon. Also during his post-match interview, it was clear to see he was hurting very much and cares passionately about our football club. In this writer’s opinion today was the wrong game at the wrong time for him and he should not be judged on this. Let’s put this performance behind us and move on and look forward to our visit to Brechin next weekend.
© Eddie Doig 2018
Interim Rovers manager Kevin Cuthbert talked to RaithTV after the Cup defeat in Dingwall
After a dramatic week off the park, Raith Rovers can turn their attention back to footballing matters this weekend, with a second round Irn Bru Cup tie against Ross County.
With the sudden departure of Barry Smith on Tuesday, caretaker manager, Kevin Cuthbert will take charge of a Rovers team who have never lost a cup tie in Dingwall.
Not that there’s been an extensive list of cup ties at the Global Energy Stadium down the years, but Raith do have two comprehensive wins and a penalty shoot-out victory at the venue.
There first ever meeting between the two was one of those big wins, with Raith winning 5-0 in August 1994, as they began their Coca Cola Cup campaign, which would of course end in triumph.
Their next win was August 2012, when goals from Greig Spence, Dougie Hill and a double from Brian Graham, who is now on the books of Ross County, sealed a 4-1 win over a much changed Staggies team in the League Cup.
Their most recent match up was also in the League Cup in July 2016, when an own-goal from Erik Cikos gave Rovers the lead before Brian Graham took the match to penalties, where Kevin Cuthbert proved the difference, saving two spot-kicks as Raith secured the bonus point.
Those last two results are part of a bigger trend between these teams, with Raith losing just two of the last 12 meetings.
However, they’ll do well to extend that record against a team which currently sits at the summit of the Championship, and are the favourites to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell’s side go into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Falkirk, a result which kept them a point above their Highland rivals, Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the top of the second tier.
Saturday’s match referee will be John Beaton.
Head-To-Head Away Record Versus Ross County:
Ross County Wins: 7 | Raith Rovers Wins: 6 | Draws: 6
Ross County Goals: 28 | Raith Rovers Goals: 27
Ross County: W-W-W-L-L-W
Raith Rovers: D-W-W-D-W-W
Top Goal Scorers:
Ross County: Don Cowie, Marcus Fraser, Jamie Lindsay, Keith Watson, Michael Gardyne, Declan McManus, Josh Mullin, all 1
Raith Rovers: Kevin Nisbet 7 | Liam Buchanan 3 | Lewis Vaughan 2
Ross County: 8/13 | Raith Rovers: 4/1 | Draw: 3/1