Defences On Top In Somerset Draw
Raith Rovers played out a nil nil draw with Ayr United this evening, in a game where both teams could argue they could have taken all three points.
Rovers had the upper hand and enjoyed good possession over the 90 minutes, without seriously troubling the Ayr defence, while Jamie MacDonald had a fine game to deny the home side on the counter attack.
Raith went with an unchanged starting eleven from the side which drew two each with Dunfermline in last weekend’s Fife derby, while Ayr United had former Raith full back Michael Miller in the middle of the park.
It was an even opening few minutes, but Ayr created the game’s first good opportunity, when Luke McCowan did brilliantly well to get to the bye line and pick out Michael Moffat in the middle of the penalty area, but MacDonald spread himself superbly to block the forward’s first time ffort from 12 yards.
However, Rovers created their own good chance just a couple of minutes later, when Daniel Armstrong’s cross from the right picked out Manny Duku in the penalty area, and his first time side foot effort fizzed just wide of the target.
Rovers were starting to look brighter now, and were testing the Ayr backline with a number of crosses which the Honest Men central defenders were doing well to repel.
It had been a rat-a-tat-tat start to proceedings, and Ayr had another attempt at goal after 13 minutes, when they broke after a Raith set-piece was cleared to Bruce Anderson, who managed to hold off two defenders, to allow himself a sight at goal, but he could only drag his effort from distance wide of MacDonald’s post.
Rovers were looking the brighter though, and Ethan Ross, Dylan Tait and Armstrong were all looking lively and causing some angst in the Ayr defence, who were doing just enough to keep Raith’s crosses at bay.
It had been an impressive opening half hour for Rovers, but while they’d enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, there must have been some frustration that they’d failed to trouble Finnish under-21 goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo in the home net.
Rovers missed a fine chance in the 34th minute, when Duku’s knock down found Kyle Benedictus who had made his way into the Ayr penalty area, but despite doing everything right initially, controlling the ball and finding space for the shot, he could only ping his effort wide of the post.
It was pretty much the final action of the first half, which had seen plenty of attacking intent, with Rovers probably shading it, but the only save of note had come from that MacDonald save in the opening moments.
The wet conditions were making things difficult for all concerned, and as the game progressed, there were a number of occasions when the ball squirmed away from a player as they attempted to create a chance.
It was timing, rather than the conditions which cost Raith in the 54th minute, when Duku combined with Ross Matthews and placed the ball past Sinisalo, but the linesman’s flag was rightly up, with the Dutchman drifting a yard offside.
Ayr were straight up the park though, and after being played through, Moffat was again denied by a strong arm of MacDonald to prevent the striker his 101st Ayr goal.
Despite those chances, the second half was panning out like the first, with plenty of back and forth and crosses into the area, but with very little clear cut chances being eked out.
Rovers made their first change with 25 minutes remaining, with Lars Lokotsch replacing Duku.
The German got a sight of goal in the 73rd minute, when he galloped onto a loose ball, but with defenders around him, he could only guide his shot from distance well over the bar.
A minute later, Sinisalo was forced into his first meaningful save, when a fine, bending strike from Kieran MacDonald was tipped wide at full stretch from the Finn.
Rovers were now having a barrage of attempts, and Benedictus was next to try his luck, but his attempt from 25-yards was fired just over the bar.
Rovers were pressing for the winner, but they almost were victims of the sucker punch with six minutes remaining, when Ayr’s counter saw them with a three on two.
The substitutes combined, with Dario Zanatta playing in Innes Cameron, but again, MacDonald did well to stop the shot at goal.
Two minutes later, Ayr came even closer, when Aaron Muihead’s header crashed off the bar from a corner kick, as Rovers, for the first time in the game, were suddenly clinging on to parity.
It was the final action of note in a game where Raith would consider themselves the better team overall, although Ayr would probably point to the fact they created the better chances.
Rovers now go without a game until Boxing Day away to Alloa, with Hearts in action next week in the Scottish Cup final.
Photo’s courtesy of Iain Robb Ayr United FC.
RaithTV spoke to Paul Smith after the draw against Ayr United
It’s Friday night football this week, as Raith Rovers travel to Somerset Park to face Ayr United.
It’s a contest between third and fourth in the Championship, with both teams going into this one on the back of decent form.
The Honest Men have yet to lose at home this term, and like Raith, their only dropped points on their own turf have come against Dunfermline, with Ayr drawing 0-0 with the Pars at the start of November.
Since then, they’ve played two won two in the league, both by the same 2-0 margin, against Dundee, and last week, Alloa Athletic.
That’s helped Mark Kerr’s side into fourth place in the table, level on points with Rovers, but behind them on goal difference.
Ayr had the upper hand against Raith the last time they shared a division, pipping Barry Smith’s side to the title on the last day of the season in 2017/18, and you need to go back to the opening day of the 2016/17 campaign for Raith’s last win at Somerset, when goals from Ross Matthews and Ross Callachan saw Rovers take all three points in a comfortable 2-0 win.
The two teams can’t be separated in the most recent meetings between the clubs, with three wins each and four draws from the last 10 match ups.
Friday night’s match referee will be Alan Muir
Head-To-Head League Record At Ayr:
Ayr United Wins: 34 | Raith Rovers Wins: 16 | Draws: 22
Ayr United Goals: 95 | Raith Rovers Goals: 72
Ayr United: L-D-D-W-L-W
Raith Rovers: D-W-D-W-L-D
Ayr United: Luke McCowan 3 | Michael Moffat 3
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 8 | Daniel Armstrong 3 |Ross Matthews 3 | Frankie Musonda 3
Ayr United: 7/5 | Raith Rovers: 9/5 | Draw: 12/5