ETHAN ROSS SEALS FIVE-GOAL WIN
Raith Rovers got back to winning ways with a deserved 5-2 victory over Alloa at the Indodrill. While there were nervous moments in the closing stages as the Wasps launched an aerial assault on the Rovers’ goal, Raith’s fluid play through midfield in horrendous second-half conditions ensured the victory was fully merited, and elevates Rovers into third place in the Championship table.
First-half goals from Manny Duku and Dan Armstrong saw Raith go in at the break two goals to the good, however Alloa stuck to their task and doggedly worked their way back into the match with a Buchanan finish. Raith were able to regroup, sealing the win with Lars Lokotsch’s first for the Kirkcaldy club, and two from Ethan Ross – the second of which was a fine jinking run past three defenders capped off with a lovely composed finish. Liam Buchanan’s second – a late penalty – caused a late flurry but couldn’t alter the flow of the game.
Rovers’ third five-goal haul of this season’s Championship campaign came at a venue which traditionally Raith have found difficult – memories are still relatively fresh of a three-game run between these sides which saw Raith’s 2018-2019 League One campaign end in despair, the second game of three a desperate 2-0 defeat at this ground – but today’s fixture and performance couldn’t have been more different. While the driving rain and gusting wind made ball control difficult, Raith kept faith with their fluid style of play, eventually passing and moving their way through the hosts’ defensive ranks – Ethan Ross’ wonderful second goal, Raith’s fifth, a fine example of the confidence in possession displayed by this season’s Rovers side.
The match began in bitter cold and with rain in the air. Each side began with positive intent – Duku pressed up against Alloa’s centre-half pairing of Graham and Jamieson, while Armstrong and Ross buzzed on either flank. For the Wasps, Liam Buchanan was the most visible, locking horns early with Frankie Musonda on Raith’s left side. The home side created the first chance, with youngster Cameron O’Donnell combining well with Buchanan to spring Raith’s high defensive line, eventually creating the chance for Innes Murray to fire just wide of MacDonald’s goal. O’Donnell would go on to have a fine game for the Wasps, another excellent performance in what has been a splendid season thus far.
Raith were missing flying full-back Kieran MacDonald, absent due to covid-19 – accordingly, in the only change from Rovers’ previous outing at Somerset Park, Frankie Musonda moved across to left full-back, with Fernandy Mendy partnering Kyle Benedictus as part of a back four. Musonda covered plenty of ground in the opening stages, dropping deep to cover runs from the O’Donnell and Innes Murray, as well as supporting Ethan Ross in more advanced positions.
With quarter of an hour gone and with Alloa having edged the opening exchanges, Raith began to up the tempo. The increased pressure brought the opening goal on twenty minutes. Dylan Tait burst forward following a misplaced Liam Dick pass, the Alloa man drawing a yellow-card for halting Tait’s escape. Within a minute, another cheap foul allowed Dan Armstrong to flight a lovely delivery into a crowded six-yard box – Manny Duku found a yard of space to nod beyond Parry for his ninth of the season. Ethan Ross’s driving run and shot had Parry scrambling minutes later – the keeper recovering the shot at the second attempt with Duku hovering.
Alloa came into today’s fixture on the back of two victories and creditable Cup defeats against both Hibs and Hearts, however Peter Grant was without two of his side’s more inspirational figures in forward areas – Stefan Scougall and the talismanic Alan Trouten. While the Wasps have traditionally displayed a rugged and obdurate demeanour, in Trouten particularly they have no little quality in forward areas.
As a consequence, for much of the first half, Liam Buchanan cut an isolated figure up front, and often had his intentions spoiled by the Raith defence. While Liam Dick and Steven Hetherington fed a number of passes toward their lone striker, Benedictus and Mendy looked comfortable, with Buchanan outnumbered and out-muscled on several occasions. With Grant opting to leave Alloa’s joint top-scorer Robbie Thomson on the bench, the hosts struggled to retain possession in Raith’s defensive third for much of the first half. Innes Murray’s delightful free-kick whipped through the Raith six-yard box before the half – down the corridor of uncertainty between defenders and goal-keeper – found no Wasps’ shirt to apply the finish which the service deserved.
Raith’s second was fortunate in its origins yet deserved on the balance of play – as white shirts flooded forward with pace and intent following good defensive pressure in the central third, Dan Armstrong’s high cross from the right wing dipped over Parry and in off the far post. Ironically, the chance had developed from Alloa’s best opening of the half, with Buchanan having space to cross having found room behind Musonda – the cross was wasted, and within thirty seconds Rovers had doubled their advantage.
The second half saw Alloa shooting toward the Railway end of the ground, with the driving wind and rain at their back. The elements undoubtedly had assisted with Raith’s second; and from the outset the Wasps looked to hoist high balls in on top of Rovers’ substitute goal-keeper Robbie Thomson – Liam Dick’s long thrown-ins and deep crosses from wide areas would be key components if a Wasps fight-back were to come. Kevin Cawley’s drive flew narrowly over on fifty minutes; Ray Grant should have forced a save when well placed moments earlier.
With an hour gone, Peter Grant introduced a second striker – Robbie Thomson replacing Kevin Cawley; the young frontman’s height offering a new challenge to Raith’s centre-halves. Within two minutes, a strong penalty shout: another long throw from Liam Dick bounced up and looked to strike Fernandy Mendy; referee Steven McLean dismissed the Wasps’ loud appeals. Innes Murray fired over with the next opening, as Mendy and Thomson clashed under another high ball.
With the conditions worsening, the styles of play became more distinct – Alloa’s approach much more direct toward the towering Thomson with Buchanan feeding on knock-downs; while Raith sought to keep to their “pass & move” approach with Tait, Matthews, and Armstrong still looking to play through their opponents. With Duku withdrawn for Lokotsch, the German loanee buzzed left and right, giving his midfield a target and his defenders some respite.
Alloa’s route back into the match opened up with a quarter of an hour to go. Cameron O’Donnell – the pick of the Wasps’ midfielders over the piece – skipped past two lusty challenges in midfield before crossing low into the area; with the ball bouncing, Buchanan seized on the loose ball to direct a drive beyond Robbie Thomson.
Raith’s third when it came on eighty-three minutes was against the run of play, coming as it did within a spell of real Alloa pressure. With full-back Robertson’s deep crosses causing consternation in the Raith defence, and Raith’s back-line looking vulnerable, Regan Hendry escaped on a long run up the left-flank, taking responsibility for relieving the pressure on Rovers’ creaking back-four. Hendry drew a foul, and from the resultant free-kick Armstrong crossed allowing first Benedictus and then Lars Lokotsch to fire goalwards, the German’s effort squirming under substitute keeper Wilson’s despairing dive. The joy amongst the Raith players was clear for all to see – with a two-goal advantage at risk of being overturned, Lokotsch’s welcome intervention sealed the three points.
Alloa came again – another high cross held up in the wind above Robbie Thomson’s goal, and in the melee Liam Buchanan crashed to the floor. Referee McLean had no hesitation in pointing to the spot – Buchanan made no mistake from the spot, scoring his second and bringing Alloa within a goal.
Raith responded, stretching away from their hosts with two fine late goals in injury time. Firstly, Dan Armstrong picked his way past several challenges and with Raith jerseys outnumbering their rivals in the Alloa box, Ethan Ross had time to pick his spot past Alloa keeper Wilson. With the next attack, Ross collected the ball in midfield and weaved past three defenders before firing home – his fine individual effort his second in as many minutes, and capping a deserved win against determined opponents in challenging conditions.
Match Action Photo Gallery:
Goals Photo Gallery:
Photo’s courtesy of David Glencross on behalf of Alloa Athletic FC.
Paul Smith chatted to RaithTV after today’s 2-5 win.
Ethan Ross spoke about today’s 2-5 win against Alloa Athletic FC and his time at Raith Rovers so far.
Head-To-Head League Record In Alloa: