Rovers Prevail In Derby Thriller
Raith Rovers extended their lead at the top of the League One table to two points, after an extraordinary eight goal thriller against East Fife.
Raith took am early lead through Jamie Gullan, before a brace from Kieran MacDonald gave the visitors a 3-1 lead at the interval.
A strike from Dylan Tait appeared to make the game safe early in the second half, but the dogged hosts refused to lie down, and closed the gap to 4-3 with 20 minutes remaining, but the points were made safe in injury time, as Gullan grabbed his second of the game, prompting wild celebrations both in, and just in front of the away end.
John McGlynn made two changes from the side which went down to Dumbarton, with Tony Dingwall and Kieron Bowie dropping to the bench, and Tait and Kyle Benedictus coming in.
The return of the latter allowed Kieron MacDonald and Jamie Watson to return to their more recognised full back positions, while Tait lined up in the middle of the park.
Rovers started on the front foot and looked lively during the opening exchanges, but they were almost behind in the third minute, when hesitancy at the back allowed Anton Dowds to race into the area, but Benedictus did well to block his shot at goal.
Rovers took the lead five minutes later, when a cross from Watson was headed on by Grant Anderson, allowing Gullan to let the ball bounce once, before lashing it past Brett Long from just inside the six-yard-box.
It was the perfect start to the game for McGlynn’s men, and the frantic start to the match was a precursor of what was to follow.
The lead was almost short lived, when Ross Munro rolled the ball out to Dowds, but after making his way into the area, he pulled his shot just wide of Munro’s left-hand-post.
Despite the nervous moments at the back, Rovers were the better team by some stretch in the first period, and were dominating the middle of the park, with Tait and Brad Spencer winning their own battles, while MacDonald was giving great width down the left-hand side.
It was from there that Rovers doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute, although whether it was intentional, only the left-back will know.
After running on to a pass on the left touchline, his driven, dipping shot/cross (delete as applicable) pinged over Long and nestled into the back of the net, to spectacularly double the lead.
Not for the last time however, back came East Fife, and Scott Agnew, so often a player who pops up to score against Rovers, reduced the arrears on the half hour mark.
Regan Hendry had conceded a free-kick 25-yards from goal, allowing Agnew the opportunity to bend his set piece over the wall and into the back of the net.
The fear was that Rovers would allow the home side back into the game, but Raith continued to press, and almost restored the two goal advantage in the 33rd minute, when Spencer volleyed a MacDonald cross wide of the post, but that cushion was put in place with five minutes of the half left.
MacDonald was again the scorer, skinning Murdoch who dropped to the astroturf, before advancing in on goal and drilling a low angled shot past Long.
It had been a whirlwind of a first period, and the pace didn’t relent in the second.
You sensed that East Fife would be a different proposition after the interval, and they almost scored a second in the 52nd minute, when dithering at the back, saw Dowds get a shot away, which Munro did well to tip wide.
However, two minutes later Rovers made it 4-1.
Initially, it had appeared that they’d failed to make the most of a three on two breakaway, but as the ball landed at the feet of Tait, he advanced into the area and sent a low shot under the body of Munro to the delight of the travelling support.
That appeared to be that, but East Fife had started the second half well, and they continued to threaten, and they weren’t down and out for long.
Dowds closed the gap in the 60th minute, pouncing on a stray ball after the hosts had had a couple of shots blocked, and it was 4-3 in the 71st minute, when Wallace turned his man and fired past Munro, so set up a grandstand finish.
The Rovers defence was now under severe pressure, but they were standing up to it well, and ekeing out chances on the break.
Kieron Bowie and Joao Victoria had come off the bench, and they almost combined to grab the fifth in the 85th minute, when Bowie’s cross was almost prodded home by his fellow sub.
With the referee ready to blow, the points were finally sealed in the fifth minute of injury time, when Gullan gallivanted into the penalty box from the right hand side, and struck a sweet strike past Long, prompting a huge celebration from all the players at the front of the away end.
It was a fitting way to end the decade, with a match which will be remembered for many more to come.
Rovers next match will be a home fixture with Peterhead next Saturday at Stark’s Park.
© Eddie Doig 2019
RaithTV talked to John McGlynn after the 3-5 win against East Fife
RaithTV talked to Dylan Tait after his first ever senior goal in the 3-5 win against East Fife
Raith Rovers make the short journey to Methil this weekend, for the third Fife derby of the season.
The two sides can barely be separated at the top of the table, with Rovers still leading the way, but only by a single goal, with East Fife in second place, while Airdrie are also tied on the same amount of points, but with an slightly inferior goal difference.
Adding to the congestion at the summit are Falkirk, who despite being fourth, are just a solitary point behind the three aforementioned teams.
The first meeting between these two teams came in August, with the Fife coming out as comfortable winners, despite Lewis Allan giving the visitors an early lead.
Anton Dowds, Chris Higgins and Ryan Wallace gave East Fife a three one advantage though, and despite Jamie Gullan reducing the arrears, Scott Agnew made the points safe in injury time.
It was a draw the last time the two teams met in October, with Steven Boyd putting Darren Young’s men into the lead, only for Brad Spencer to level the scoreline before half time, in a game which ended 1-1.
Rovers last win over East Fife came back in Match, when two goals in the last three minutes from Iain Davidson and Kevin Nisbet secured a 2-1 win at Bayview.
Rovers have won five and drawn two of the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Greg Aitken
Head-To-Head Away League Record:
East Fife Wins: 17 | Raith Rovers Wins: 15 | Draws: 4
East Fife Goals: 72 | Raith Rovers Goals: 67
East Fife: L-D-L-D-W-W
Raith Rovers: W-D-W-W-D-L
East Fife: Scott Agnew 8 | Liam Watt 5
Raith Rovers: Kieron Bowie 8 | James Gullan 6 | Michael Miller 6
East Fife: 6/4 | Raith Rovers: 6/4 | Draw: 12/5