Rovers Toil In League Cup Loss
Raith Rovers made a disappointing start to their competitive season this afternoon, with a 3-0 loss to Dundee at Stark’s Park in the League Cup.
A torrid opening 45 minutes for Rovers, could have seen James McPake’s side home and hosed by the interval, but despite an improved showing after the break, John McGlynn’s men failed to lay a glove on the Championship side.
Rovers listed six players in their starting eleven who were making their competitive debuts, with Ross Munro, Kieran MacDonald, Fernandy Mendy, Lewis Allan. Brad Spencer and Joao Victoria all stripped for the opening fixture.
Dundee listed the same amount of debutantes in their line up too, and it was they who made the brighter start to the game, with their midfield five pressing Rovers well, restricting their space and pressurising them into errors.
Unsurprisingly, it was McPake’s team who had the first attempt at goal in the sixth minute, although Andrew Nelson’s attempt failed to trouble Munro in the Rovers goal.
Dundee continued to look the sharper, and Jamie Ness was next to have an attempt at goal, after finding it disconcertingly simple to make his way to the edge of the penalty area, and Munro was relieved to see his deflected effort strike the side netting.
The Dens Park club did take the lead in the 13th minute, but when it arrived, it came as the result of cataclysmic defending.
A long ball forward really should have been meat and drink for the Rovers defence, but Mendy seemed to get tangled up in his own legs, allowing Nelson the simple task of slotting home past Munro.
Manager McGlynn had every right to be angry, although it appeared to be aimed at the referee, Lloyd Wilson, who sent the fuming manager to the stand. It may not have been the best opening quarter of an hour to a season, but it had certainly been eventful.
Dundee were completely dictating matters, with Paul McGowan in particular pulling strings, with Rovers chasing shadows, as Dundee kept possession impressively.
Rovers were needing a spark from somewhere, and Victoria was doing more than anyone to provide it, but his shot in the 25th minute, Rovers first of the game, was well wide of Jack Hamilton’s crossbar.
It failed to be the start of an upturn in Raith’s fortunes however, and Dundee made it 2-0 in the 27th minute, and again, it was entirely avoidable.
A diagonal ball into the area was allowed to bounce, and as Mendy went to clear, his high boot caught Declan McDaid, leaving the referee with little option, allowing Nelson to bag as easy a brace as he’ll ever notch up.
Rather than close the gap, Dundee were almost out of sight, when Mendy’s attempted pass through the middle was cut out, and from the break, McGowan was presented with a one-on-one, but his finish was fractionally too far to the left, dinking the ball past Munro but striking the outside of the post.
The half ended with Rovers sending a corner kick straight out of touch, an act which succinctly summarised how the first 45 minutes of their season had gone.
The second period started with another near thing for Dundee, when Mendy’s attempted clearance was charged down, but he managed to regain his composure and nudge the ball to safety.
It wasn’t all one way traffic any more however, and Rovers troubled the Dundee defence for the first time in the 52nd minute, when good work from Ross Matthews saw him winning back possession from Dundee in their own corner, giving Allan the briefest chance to get a shot away, but his attempt from an angle was blocked for a corner, which almost fell to Kieron Bowie, who was unable to steer it home.
Rovers were now enjoying a decent spell, and Victoria threatened two minutes later, but from a decent angle inside the area, he was unable to curl his effort into the opposite corner.
The game should have been over as a contest in the 55th minute, when McGowan slipped through Nelson, but from inside the area and with just Munro to beat, he blasted over the bar when it seemed a hat-trick was inevitable.
The Rovers crowd were getting a little noisier as the second half progressed, brought on by a sense of injustice, as Rovers were denied a penalty shout by referee Wilson in the 62nd minute, but they were almost on their feet with 25 minutes remaining, when Allan and Victoria combined, but the latter saw his shot blocked on the edge of the area.
It had been a better second-half performance from Rovers, but with 20 minutes remaining, they’d yet to test Jack Hamilton in the Dundee goal.
Despite the improvement, Dundee had still created chances of their own in the second period, and they grabbed their third goal in the 74th minute, when Shaun Byrne played the ball to Craig Curran who had just come on as a sub, who tapped the ball into an empty net with his first touch.
The goal sucked the wind out of Rovers sails, and in the closing stages, a fourth goal for Dundee looked far likelier than a consolation for the home side.
After a good pre-season, it was a a bumpy opening to their competitive season, and things won’t get any easier next weekend, as Rovers make the long journey to Inverness for their next League Cup group game.
Photos © Tony fimister
After four consecutive pre-season victories, Raith Rovers start their competitive campaign this Saturday, with a visit from Championship side Dundee in a League Cup group stage match at Stark’s Park.
The newly-relegated Tayside club will have a revamped look about them, after new manager James McPake overhauled the playing squad, after a miserable Premiership campaign last time out.
It’s been a case of 11 out and seven in since the Dee finished bottom of the top-tier with just 21 points, as McPake hopes to lead the side back up at the first attempt, with most of the new arrivals experienced at Championship level.
The defence could potentially line up with two Jordan’s and a Jordon across the back four, after Jordan’s McGhee and Marshall were brought in from Falkirk and Queen of the South respectively, while former Hibs centre-half, Jordon Foster was signed from Cheltenham.
The other four new recruits are all midfielders to trade, with Josh Todd the second arrival from Queen’s, while winger Declan McDaid was snapped up after leaving Ayr United.
Shaun Byrne was a surprising acquisition after he impressed in the Premiership with Livingston last season, while former Plymouth Argyle midfielder Jamie Ness is their most recent signing after he was released by League Two club.
The two teams have met each other 14 times in the League Cup, with Raith recording just one victory, which came back in 1981 with a 2-1 win at Dens Park.
The last two meetings between the two have both come in this competition, and while Dundee ran out straightforward 4-0 winners in 2014, it was a far tighter and more exciting affair at the same stage two seasons ago.
Soufian Moussa had given the away side the lead with less than 20 minutes remaining, but Lewis Vaughan appeared to have sealed a draw and penalty shoot out with a last minute equaliser.
However, the three points travelled back across the Tay, after Jack Hendry scored the winner two minutes into injury time.
Rovers have a poor record in this fixture in general, with just one win and three draws from the last 10 meetings.
Head-To-Head Cup Record Versus Dundee:
Raith Rovers Wins: 6 | Dundee Wins: 14 | Draws: 3
Raith Rovers Goals: 17 | Dundee Goals: 42
Raith Rovers: 13/5 | Dundee: 10/11 | Draw: 11/5