Rovers Grind Out Cup Win
Raith Rovers made it through to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup this afternoon, but they were made to work hard for it, by a Peterhead side who may be wondering just how they aren’t in tomorrow’s draw.
An early goal from Kieron Bowie handed the home side the perfect start, but they failed to build on it, and were pegged back for large trenches of the match.
Manager John McGlynn went with an unchanged line-up from the one which saw off Elgin City in the quarter finals of the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup the previous weekend, although their was a notable returnee on the bench, with goalkeeper Robbie Thompson listed for the first time since picking up an injury against Stenhousemuir in April.
It may have been the same side, but it was a different shape from that last eight victory, with the side reverting to a flat back four, with Iain Davidson playing as a holding midfielder.
Rovers toiled the last time the two sides met just a few weeks ago, and they were almost a goal down in the second minute.
The Blue Toon were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area, and set-piece expert Ryan Conroy was hugely unfortunate to see his curled effort smack off the inside of a post and bounce back into a congested box, which Rovers eventually managed to clear.
If Peterhead felt aggrieved at that piece of misfortune, they must have been even more non-plussed a minute later, as Raith went straight upfield and took the lead.
John Baird was the provider, making good headway down the left before crossing for Bowie, who sent a fine header past Greg Fleming to open the scoring.
Baird looked in the mood, and his snap shot from the edge of the area tested Fleming, but his shot was just wide and ended up in the side netting.
Peterhead had started strongly though, and Rovers appeared to have two big let offs in quick succession.
Ross Munro and Steven Anderson seemed to get involved in a mix up, and with Ben Armour running through, Munro certainly clattered into him, although the referee Steven Reid didn’t deem it to be a foul.
A moment later, he also saw nothing wrong with Armour’s shot which was blocked by Benedictus, with the Peterhead forward adamant the strike had been handled by the defender.
Rovers were just living a little dangerously at the back, and Paddy Boyle was the next to threaten, nutmegging Steven Anderson before cracking a shot towards the bottom corner which Munro did well to gather.
Aside from the goal, Rovers were struggling a little, and they were reliant on Munro again in the 17th minute, when he touched wide an attempt from Conroy from just outside the area.
The match was one way traffic, and Jim McInally’s side missed a gilt-edged chance in the 30th minute.
Rovers were cut open at the back, and after Munro was forced to rush off his line to to palm away from the head of Rory McAllister, it seemed certain that Armour would finish into the unguarded net, but his lob from the edge of the area was just wide of the post.
A moment later they were even closer to an equaliser, when Scott Brown’s powerful header was blocked on the line by Brad Spencer, as Peterhead continued to rue their luck.
John McGlynn was forced into a change at the interval, with Lewis Allan replacing Bowie who appeared to pick up a knock in the first period.
Rovers were keeping the visitors at arms length in the second period, but they were still struggling to assert themselves on proceedings, and McGlynn made a further change 10 minutes after the interval, with Baird making way for Grant Anderson.
He was straight into the action, and after picking up possession deep inside the Peterhead half, his hold up play was seized upon by Daniel Armstrong, who elected to go himself, almost beating Fleming at his near post, keeping the ball out with his legs.
Tentatively, Rovers were starting to make inroads into teh game, and a fine run by Kieran MacDonald ended with the full back whipping a cross into the area for Ross Matthews, whose diving header flew just past the post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Raith made their final change, with Tony Dingwall replacing Armstrong.
However, Peterhead started to turn the screw again as the game entered it’s final stages, and Davidson did excellently to block a shot from Boyle, who had done well to wriggle clear in the penalty area to create the shooting opportunity.
With the Rovers fans hoping to hear the referees whistle, they had one last scare to put up with in the 95th minute, when with every Peterhead player in the area for a corner, including goalkeeper Fleming, a header was flashed inches past the post.
Rovers will play better and lose games this season, but with shocks galore elsewhere in the third round, the win was the most important thing.
The match highlights video will appear here the day after the match
Photo’s © Tony Fimister
Interviews will appear shortly
Raith Rovers play their second cup match in as many weekends this Saturday, when they welcome Peterhead to Stark’s Park for a Scottish Cup third round tie.
It’ll be the fourth time the sides have met already this term, with Rovers winning two of the three meetings so far, although the Blue Toon won the most recent encounter at the beginning of the month, when strikes from Jack Leitch and Gary Fraser sealed a two nil win for Jim McInally’s side at Balmoor.
Before that, the two had met in the League Cup in July, when goals from Kieron Bowie, Michael Miller and Lewis Allan gave Rovers all three points in the group stages, and it was more comfortable in September, when goals from Grant Anderson, Lewis Vaughan ad a brace from Miller settled a 4-0 victory.
The two teams met at the same stage of the competition two years ago, and it was a bleak dat for Barry Smith’s Rovers side, as Jordon Brown and a Rory McAllister double knocked Rovers out of the competition.
After going through September and October with no league wins, Peterhead have picked up their form since defeating Rovers at Balmoor, with two wins and a draw from thelr last three league outings.
Rovers have a decent record in this fixture, with five wins and two draws from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Steven Reid.
Head-To-Head Cup Record Versus Peterhead:
Raith Rovers Wins: 4 | Peterhead Wins: 1 | Draws: 3
Raith Rovers Goals: 17 | Peterhead Goals: 10
Raith Rovers: W-D-D-L-W-W
Raith Rovers: Kieron Bowie 7, Lewis Allan 6, Michael Miller 5
Peterhead: Scott Brown 3, Derek Lyle 3, Rory McAllister 3
Raith Rovers: 61/100 | Peterhead: 10/3 | Draw: 16/5