Flying Kai Helps Raith To Second
Raith Rovers went second in the Championship table, after an excellent 3-1 win over Dundee this afternoon.
Trailing after just four minutes to an Osman Sow goal, Raith responded superbly, with Kyle Benedictus equalising in the first half, while in the second, Regan Tumilty and Kai Kennedy both scored goal of the season contenders to seal all three points for the home side.
John McGlynn made two changes from the midweek loss to Hearts, with Regan Hendry absent through suspension and Manny Duku dropping to the bench.
That meant a return to the side for Dykan Tait in midfield, while Jason Timiebi Ogheneobrucheme Bakumo-Abraham made his debut up front after joining on loan from Fulham. Perhaps thankfully for the shirt lettering budget, he’s generally more succinctly known as Timmy Abraham.
Raith’s other new acquisition, Adam King had to be content with a seat on the bench.
Dundee had also been busy in the transfer market this week, and had two new names in the starting eleven, and another on the bench.
Paul McMullan started on the right after crossing the street from Tannadice, while Malachi Fagan-Walcott started in the centre of defence after signing on loan from Tottenham.
Dundee’s third signing, Jason Cummings started on the subs bench.
The game started in an ominous fashion, with the visitor’s ahead after just four minutes.
McMullan did well down the right and sent in an excellent cross, which top scorer Sow was able to guide beyond Jamie MacDonald.
It was the worst possible start for Raith after the heavy defeat in midweek, and it initially looked like they would be in for a long afternoon, however, they enjoyed a spell of possession after the goal, albeit without troubling the visitors at the back.
Since the opening 15 minutes, Raith were probably looking the more comfortable on the ball, and while Dundee were looking dangerous on the counter, Rovers were doing a good job of blunting their main attacking threats.
They were starting to look dangerous at the other end too, and it was all square in the 22nd minute, thanks to a well worked short corner routine, and some lax defending from the visitors.
Daniel Armstrong played it short to Kai Kennedy, who was afforded a huge amount of time and space by the Dundee defence, allowing him to pick out Benedictus who headed home from close range.
That equaliser seemed to breathe more belief into Rovers, with McGlynn’s men now looking the likelier to take the lead, getting both full-backs forward to good effect and testing the new look Dundee defence with a number of deliveries from both sides.
However, with the talent that Dundee have at their disposal, Rovers had to be careful at the back, and McMullan almost managed a third goal out of nothing, latching onto a half cleared corner and curling in an effort from 20 yards that went just over Jamie MacDonald’s bar.
Rovers went right up the other end though, and Abraham had his first dig at goal, latching onto a fine through pass from Kennedy and striking it first time which Jack Hamilton did well to turn away, diving to his left and deflecting it back into the six-yard-area, before eventually being cleared.
Kennedy was proving to be a constant thorn in Dundee’s flesh, and he tested Hamilton again as the interval approached, picking up the ball 25-yards from goal and unleashing a low shot which the Dens Park custodian did well to repel, low to his right.
It was the final piece of noteworthy action in an even and entertaining opening 45 minutes in which both teams had enjoyed spells on top.
The second period began very much in a similar fashion, with both teams testing one another, with Dundee’s Charlie Adam the hub of everything Dundee were doing well.
However, Rovers took the lead in the 53rd minute with an extraordinary strike.
Initially, the chance looked to be gone, with a short corner routine going far less successfully than the one which led to the opening strike.
Their didn’t seem to be too much danger when Regan Tumilty picked up the clearance 35-yards from goal, but after taking a couple of steps forward, he absolutely leathered the ball past Hamilton from 30 yards to hand Raith the advantage.
It was an exceptional goal, but Rovers were forced into a reshuffle just a couple of minutes later, after Benedictus went down with an injury and was forced off, to be replaced by Iain Davidson.
Dundee also made a change, with one new signing replacing another, as Jason Cummings replaced McMullan.
The afternoon got even better for Raith on the hour mark, with another excellent goal.
Kennedy picked up the ball wide on the left, and after taking on his man and cutting inside, he curled in a superb effort past Hamilton and into the opposite corner to make the score 3-1.
Dundee made another attacking substitution with 25 minutes remaining as James McPake went for broke, replacing Shaun Byrne with Danny Mullen, as the Dee went with three forwards for the game’s final quarter.
One of them almost reduced the arrears with 20 minutes remaining, when a fine delivery from Adam from a free-kick found the head of Sow, but his downward header went just wide of MacDonald’s left-hand post.
Rovers made their second change straight after that let off, with new addition Adam King replacing Daniel Armstrong.
Lewis Vaughan tried his luck with a little over a quarter of an hour remaining, smashing a free-kick from out wide towards goal which was deflected out for a corner which came to nothing.
Sow then tried his luck at the opposite end, and was inches away from scoring the visitor’s second, blasting a shot from distance out on the right which whizzed just past the juncture of bar and post.
Raith made their final change with 13 minutes left, with Manny Duku replacing Abraham up top.
If anything, Dundee had become less dangerous since bringing on the additional forwards, with their forward forays becoming more infrequent and less threatening.
They did manage to eke out a chance with five minutes remaining, when Cummings was played into the area, but from a tight angle he could only force the ball into the side netting.
Unlike the previous Saturday’s protracted injury time, Rovers only had a couple of minutes additional time to navigate this time around, but even if there had been a repeat of the nine minutes from the Hearts match, you got the impression they’d have seen it out fairly comfortably.
The result lifted Raith up to second in the table on goal difference from Dunfermline, with the two facing off against each other at East End Park on Wednesday, in one of the biggest Fife derbies in years.
PHOTOGRAPHS © Tony Fimister
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the 3-1 win at Stark’s Park
Reghan Tumilty spoke to RaithTV after today’s 3-1 win against Dundee FC
After a double header against Hearts in the last week, Raith Rovers are involved in another important Championship game this weekend, when they welcome Dundee to Stark’s Park.
The Dens Park men are unbeaten in all competitions since losing 2-0 to Ayr United back in November, and go into this one with three new additions to the side.
Winger Paul McMullan has been brought in from very near neighbours Dundee United, while central defender Malachi Fagan-Walcott has arrived on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. Former Hibs and Rangers striker, Jason Cummings has also been brought in from Shrewsbury, as the Dee look to get back to the Premiership at the second time of asking.
These two sides are only separated by two points in the table, with Dundee third and Raith fourth, although Rovers do have a game in hand in the race for a Premiership playoff spot.
They’ve already met once this season, a 1-1 draw at Dens Park at the end of October, with Charlie Adam opening the scoring for the home side, and Frankie Musonda responding for Rovers in the closing stages.
You have to go back eight years for Rovers last win over Dundee, when a bizarre own goal from Gary Irvine allowed the Kirkcaldy club access to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, with a 1-0 win.
You have to go back even further for Raith’s last win over Dundee at Stark’s Park, with goals from Gregory Tade and a last minute winner from Allan Walker ending Dundee’s 23 match unbeaten run back in April 2011.
As you’d expect because of that, Rovers have a poor record in this one, with just one win and four draws from their last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Craig Napier.
Home League Record Versus Dundee:
Raith Rovers Wins: 16 | Dundee Wins: 22 | Draws: 17
Raith Rovers Goals: 71 | Dundee Goals: 73
Raith Rovers: D-D-W-L-W-L | Dundee: D-W-W-W-W-D
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 10 | Daniel Armstrong 4
Dundee: Osman Sow 7 | Charlie Adam 6
Raith Rovers: 7/4 | Dundee: 11/8 | Draw: 13/5