Ground Out Win Takes Raith Top
Raith Rovers leap-frogged East Fife to go back to the summit of League One, after a fine 1-0 win at Aidrieonians.
A second-half finish from Grant Anderson was enough to seal all three points, and despite coming under sustained pressure from the home side as the game reached it’s closing stages, a fine rearguard performance meant the Diamonds failed to threaten Rovers ‘keeper, David McGurn.
John McGlynn made one change from the side which performed so well the week previously against Peterhead, with Jamie Gullan stepping in for Lewis Vaughan, who missed out altogether through injury.
With Lewis Allan again leading the line, it meant new acquisition John Baird had to make do with a place on the bench.
Rovers started the match brightly, and were appealing for a penalty in the opening moments, when Anderson’s shot was blocked by Sean Crighton. While the players and fans felt it could have come off the defenders hand, referee Steven Reid decided otherwise and waved play on.
The whistler was involved again in the ninth minute, when Steven Anderson had initially appeared to have given Rovers the lead, heading home Gullan’s free-kick, but the celebrations were curtailed by the offside flag.
Airdrie fans then thought they were about to take the lead just a minute later, following an almighty stramash in Raith’s six yard box, but excellent work from Kieran MacDonald defending on the line kept the scoreline blank.
Although the goal had been prevented, the incident did force McGlynn into a change, with McGurn replacing Ross Munro, who appeared to injure his collarbone in amongst the action.
Rovers probably shaded the remainder of the half in terms of possession and looked the likelier of the two sides to take the lead, albeit the game saw little in terms of clear cut chances.
Airdrie were claiming for a penalty when Callum Gallagher went down in the area under the challenge of Iain Davidson, but again, ref Reid saw little wrong with the incident.
Airdrie had to make their own goalkeeping change, when David Hutton was forced off through injury, to be replaced by Reece Willison, but the 20-year-old had little to do, despite the visitors holding the upper-hand.
Regan Hendry was having another fine game in the middle of the park, but with Michael Miller and MacDonald predominantly concentrating on defensive duties rather than getting forward, Rovers were struggling to get too many balls into the Airdrie penalty area.
That changed 10 minute into the second half however, when Rovers took the lead after the best passage of play in the game.
Gullan and MacDonald did well to link up down the left-hand-side, and it was the former of the two who picked out Kyle Benedictus, who unusually, had made an attacking run to the bye-line, before skipping past one challenge and firing in a low cross which Anderson poked past Willison from close range.
A second goal would have stopped the game as a contest, and Hendry came close to grabbing it, but his 25-yard effort flew just wide of Willison’s left-hand-post.
Birthday boy, Kieron Bowie was introduced for Gullan in the 70th minute, while Joao Victoria was brought on for the goalscorer Anderson in the 83rd minute, and he had a chance to make the points safe in the closing stages, after being put through by Bowie, but from an acute angle, his thumped drive was straight at the ‘keeper.
Other than a few concerning moments, the majority of which came from Airdrie’s long throw routines, Rovers held out in an impressively resolute manner, to register their third win, and clean sheet in a row.
That run will be strongly tested again next week, when they travel to Station Park to play Forfar Athletic.
© Eddie Doig 2019
Raith TV talked to John McGlynn after the away win against Airdrieonians
Raith Rovers head to the Penny Cars Stadium this weekend, looking for their third consecutive win, and their third consecutive clean sheet.
After eliminating Falkirk from the Challenge Cup a fortnight ago by two goals to nil, Rovers put in one of their best performances in some time, with their 4-0 win over Peterhead last time out.
That win kept them second in the League One table, two points behind East Fife, and one ahead of third placed Falkirk.
Saturday’s opponents, Airdrie have started the season well too, sitting fourth in the table, while the Diamonds are on a run of just one defeat in six matches.
They go into this one on the back of a solid away win, after a 1-0 victory at Dumbarton, a side who were also on a hot streak until that reverse.
Callum Gallagher scored the only goal, and the forward has started the season well, with five goals to his credit so far.
Rovers had a formidable record in this one last season, taking 10 points from a possible 12, with the sensational 4-3 win in August the stand out result.
Raith have an excellent record in general against the Diamonds, with eight wins and two draws from their last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Steven Reid.
Head-To-Head Away League Record Versus Airdrie:
Airdrie Wins: 3 | Raith Rovers Wins: 5 | Draws: 6
Airdrie Goals: 19 | Raith Rovers Goals: 17
Airdrie: W-W-L-D-W-W | Raith Rovers: W-L-W-L-W-W
Airdrie: Callum Gallagher 5 | Callum Smith 3
Raith Rovers: Lewis Allan 5 | Michael Miller 4 | Grant Anderson 3 | Kieron Bowie 3 | Regan Hendry 3
Airdrie: 21/10 | Raith Rovers: 23/20 | Draw: 13/5