Frankie Says Relax
If a trip to Dens Park to face Dundee was Raith Rovers biggest test to date, then they ended it with pass marks, after a 1-1 draw saw them maintain their unbeaten start to their league campaign.
Trailing to a Charlie Adam strike at the interval, Rovers grew into the game in the second half, and were rewarded with an equaliser in the 86th minute, when Frankie Musonda prodded home from a corner kick.
Rovers had been suffering with injury concerns in the build up to this one, with Ethan Ross, Kyle Bendictus and Kieran MacDonald all limping off during Rovers excellent 5-2 win at Dumfries against Queen of the South, but perhaps surprisingly they were all present and correct for this one.
There was one unforeseen change from last weekend’s victory though, with top scorer Manny Duku missing out, allowing new loan signing Lars Lokotsch to make his debut up top.
The three players who had all hobbled off during that victory were all passed fit to play, with Etan Ross, Kyle Benedictus and Kieran MacDonald all passed fit to play.
Rovers got off to a blistering start last week and they were clearly in the mood to do so again this time around.
Daniel Armstrong’s free kick met the head of Lokotsch, but he was unable to steer it on target and the chance was lost.
It was a decent start to proceedings, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come, with the players struggling to acclimatise to the blustery conditions.
The game had turned into something of a tousled, scrappy affair, with the swirling wind making life difficult for all concerned.
Unfortunately for Rovers, just like last week, they were forced into a first-half change, with Musonda replacing a struggling MacDonald after 25 minutes.
Rovers had probably the better of the first quarter, and Ross was causing the home side some issues down the left, keeping Cammy Kerr on the back foot and winning a corner after half an hour, the delivery of which caused some angst for the Dee backline before eventually being cleared.
The enforced change had unsettled Rovers a little, and Dundee started to come more into the game as the half progressed.
Rovers had done a decent job of keeping Charlie Adam quiet, but his set piece delivery produced a stramash in the 35th minute, swinging in a cross from the right which Jamie MacDonald got a glove to, but he couldn’t get much purchase on it, and with the ball bouncing dangerously in the area, Rovers eventually scrambled it clear.
Adam’s delivery again caused trouble a moment later, when his latest free-kick almost found the head of Jordan McGhee but bounced just wide of the far post.
Rovers were now under the cosh for the first time in the game, and a fine Dundee move from back to front eventually ended with Dorrans being teed up at the edge of the box, but he somehow managed to miss the ball altogether, and Raith were given a reprieve.
It was very much a temporary one though, as Raith were behind in the 41st minute.
It was that man Adam who did the damage, picking up possession in the middle of the park, and with no-one able to close him down, his 25-yard drive flew low past MacDonald and into the right corner of the net.
Dundee started the second half in the same ascendancy they ended the first, and Raith were having to remain resolute against a number of Dundee free-kicks, which with Adam’s dead ball ability was proving difficult.
Rovers were struggling to create much, and they had a huge let off after 52 minutes, when a great counter at pace saw Jordan Marshall send a low cross into the area from the left which was cut out by Hendry, but in the process intercepting it, he managed to clatter the ball off his own crossbar, in what was almost a spectacular own goal.
Rovers did have a sight at goal on the hour mark, when Armstrong was allowed too much room to run into, and from just over 20 yards out, he whizzed a curling drive just over Callum Ferrie’s crossbar.
Rovers again had a let off with 25 minutes remaining, when a mistake at the back allowed Jonathon Afolabi and Danny Mullen to combine, while the latter’s cross picked out Adam at the back post, but he somehow nodded wide from six-yards out, although he was probably relieved to see the linesman’s flag spare his blushes.
Rovers eked out their first chance of the second half a moment later, when the quick footwork of Ross saw him wriggle clear of two opponents, but as the gap appeared in front of him to allow the shot, his attempt was blocked from close range and away for a corner.
With time running out, Rovers were enjoying a dominant phase of the game, delivering crosses from good areas and winning a fair number of corner kicks.
They almost equalised from one with quarter of an hour remaining, with Dylan Tait’s cross finding Musonda, but while he rose well, he could only head his effort well over the bar.
That was just a practise run though, and Rovers got an equaliser via the same means with four minutes left.
Again, the delivery was from a corner, and with a gap appearing in the middle of the penalty area, Musonda took full advantage to sidefoot home from close range.
The game was now there for the taking, and after defending two free-kicks, they had Dundee on the ropes with a quick counter, but with a numerical advantage, the chance fizzed out 20 yards from goal with Armstrong just unable to regain control and the chance was lost.
The result leaves Rovers second in the table, and they’ll be looking to get back to the summit next week, when they face off against Morton at Stark’s Park.
© Eddie Doig 2020
RaithTV spoke to Paul Smith after the 1-1 draw against Dundee F.C.
Rovers’ scorer Frankie Musonda spoke to RaithTV after Saturdays draw
Raith Rovers will be looking to extend their 100% record this Saturday, and keep their place at the top of the Championship table, when they head to Dens Park to face off against Dundee.
James McPake’s side got their first win of the campaign last Saturday with a 1-0 win against Morton, and will be hoping that’s the the shape of things to come, after a disappointing 6-2 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle on the opening evening of the season.
Dundee will have some familiar faces in their midfield, with Charlie Adam joining in the summer to become their second former Scotland international in their ranks, with Graeme Dorrans already at the club, and they’ll be looking to take the club back to the Premiership at the second attempt after a disappointing after missing out last time around.
The two sides met at the start of last season in the League Cup, with Dundee producing a comfortable 3-0 win at Stark’s Park, thanks to a first period brace from Andrew Nelson, and a second half strike from Craig Curran.
They haven’t met in the league since the 2013/14 season, and you have to go back even further since Raith recorded a league win over the Dee, when Alan Walker’s thumping last minute winner brought to an end the Taysiders long unbeaten run in April 2011.
Rovers have managed a win over Dundee since then however, with Gary Irvine’s bizarre early own goal enough to gift Rovers the victory in a Scottish Cup fourth round tie in November 2013.
Raith have a poor recent record in this fixture, with just one win and three draws from their last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Alan Newlands.
Head To Head League Record At Dundee:
Dundee Wins: 34 | Raith Rovers Wins: 15 | Draws: 9
Dundee Goals: 115 | Raith Rovers Goals: 65
Dundee: W-W-L-W | Raith Rovers: W-L-W-W
Dundee: Danny Mullen 2 | Charlie Adam 1 | Jonathon Afolabi 1 | Graham Dorrans 1
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 4 | Daniel Armstrong 2 | Regan Hendry 2
Dundee: 21/20 | Raith Rovers: 12/5 | Draw: 5/2