Blue Day At The Blue Toon
A toothless performance from Raith Rovers saw them go down by two goals to nil to Peterhead, in a disappointing afternoon at Balmoor.
Goals in each half from Jack Leitch and Gary Fraser saw the Blue Toon comfortably home, meaning Rovers move down to second in the table, with Falkirk moving into first spot.
John McGlynn went with the same starting eleven which drew with East Fife, meaning Steven Anderson had to be content with a place on the bench after returning from suspension.
In dreich conditions, it was the home side who started the brighter, with Rovers struggling to retain possession in the game’s opening passages.
Neither side were doing much in terms of creating chances however, with a header from Daniel Armstrong which went way wide of target, the only half chance of note in a fairly flat start to proceedings.
Rovers were on the back foot for the bulk of the half, although other than a number of corner kicks and a long range effort from Gary Fraser, Rovers were keeping the hosts at arm’s length.
It was from a corner kick where Peterhead fashioned their first good chance after 25 minutes, when the ball was played back into the area after being partially cleared, and while experienced front man, Derek Lyle was able to spin towards goal, his shot could only ripple the side netting.
With little in terms of goalmouth action, the opening goal in the 35th minute arrived out of the blue, and it was of Rovers own doing, with something of a defensive calamity.
There seemed little to be concerned with when David McGurn received a passback, but his attempted clearance spun high into the air and gave the Peterhead forwards a chance to capitalise, the ball eventually falling to Jack Leitch, who gratefully prodded high into the net from close range.
Rovers have reacted well to adversity in recent weeks, coming back from two goals down against Falkirk and from a goal behind against East Fife, but there was a lethargy about them that hadn’t been seen this term.
Keiron Bowie and Jamie Gullan were struggling to make the ball stick up top, while the midfield quartet were losing the battle, partly through diligent, hard work from the home side, and partly because they were outnumbered by Peterhead’s midfield five.
With chances at a premium, Kyle Benedictus took matters into his own hands late in the half, lashing a shot from distance past the post, then with the interval approaching, Tony Dingwall was presented with a good chance inside the area, but falling backwards, he couldn’t get himself set, and he snatched wildly at the ball and launched it over the bar.
Recognising changes were required, John McGlynn replaced Daniel Armstrong and James Gullan with John Baird and Grant Anderson at the interval.
It gave Rovers an out ball which they’d lacked in the opening 45, with Anderson making good headway down the left, with most of Rovers good work coming from that area.
The substitute was presented with a shooting opportunity in the 55th minute, but after delaying his shot, he headed wide and attempted a cross into the area, which was deflected onto the roof of the net.
From that set piece, Peterhead goalkeeper, Greg Fleming was forced into his first save of the match, beating away Baird’s chance with his legs after the ball dropped to him at the back post.
Rovers now had the upper hand, and Anderson was denied what looked to be a certain goal when Scott Hooper flung himself at the ball to deflect away his effort, as it broke kindly to the winger 12 yards out.
Fellow substitute, Jack Smith then rattled the top of the crossbar from 20 yards, as Rovers continued to press their obdurate hosts, however, they were undone five minutes later, as Jim McInally’s men wrapped up the points with a fine counter attack.
From a Rovers throw in next to Peterhead’s corner flag, they frittered away possession and allowed Peterhead to break forward, the ball eventually making its way to Gary Fraser wide on the left, who cut inside and sent a fine drive from distance curling into the far corner.
With the game done as a contest, Rovers misery was compounded in the 78th minute, when Iain Davidson was dismissed for a straight red card for dissent.
It was Raith’s first defeat in nine matches, although disconcertingly, the result made it four without a win in the league, something that the side has a chance to put right with a home match against Stranraer next Saturday.
Photo Gallery will appear here shortly
RaithTV talked to John McGlynn after today’s game at Peterhead
After three successive draws in the league, Raith Rovers head north on Saturday to take on Peterhead, looking to retain their place at the top of the League One table.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw with East Fife kept John McGlynn’s men top by a solitary goal, although it did extend their lead over third place Falkirk, who went down by a goal to nil at home to Clyde.
Peterhead on the other hand go into the game on the back of six games without a win in the league, a run of form which sees them sit ninth on the table.
Despite only being November, this will be Raith and Peterhead’s third meeting this season, and they’ll make it at least six over the course of the campaign, after being paired together in the Scottish Cup third round, which is also scheduled for November.
Rovers have come out on top in the two previous meetings, with two fairly dominant displays against Jim McInally’s men.
Kieron Bowie, Michael Miller and Lewis Allan were in amongst the goals in July, as Rovers ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in the League Cup in July, and it was even more one-sided in September, when goals from Grant Anderson, Lewis Vaughan and a brace from Miller saw Raith canter to a 4-0 win.
It was a different story the last time the two sides met at Balmoor however, with Barry Smith’s team on the end of a Scottish Cup shock two years ago, with League Two Peterhead handing out a 3-0 drubbing against the team from the division above.
Rovers have the upper hand in this fixture in recent years, with five wins and two draws from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Gavin Ross.
Head-To-Head Away League Record Versus Peterhead:
Peterhead Wins: 2| Raith Rovers Wins: 4 | Draws: 2
Peterhead Goals: 4 | Raith Rovers Goals: 6
Raith Rovers: W-W-D-W-D-D
Peterhead: Scott Brown 3 | Derek Lyle 3
Raith Rovers: Lewis Allan 6 | Michael Miller 5 | Kieron Bowie 5
Peterhead: 3/1 | Raith Rovers: 4/5 | Draw: 5/2