Rovers Take Sting Out Of Wasps
Raith Rovers moved back up to second in the Championship, after a come-from-behind victory this afternoon against Alloa Athletic.
A frustrating first half saw the hosts trailing to Iness Cameron’s opener at the interval, but goals in the final quarter of the match from Iain Davidson, Regan Hendry and Jamie Gullan earned Rovers a deserved three points.
Raith manager John McGlynn made three changes from last weekend’s disappointing loss to Arbroath, with Dylan Tait, Gozie Ugwu and Gullan all dropping to the bench.
In their place, came Ross Matthews who was returning from injury, Brad Spencer, who missed out last week through illness, while top scorer Manny Duku returned to the forward line.
Rovers have been consistently inconsistent in recent months, posting a win, followed by a loss for the last eight games, and they were immediately on the front foot in this one, with Duku galloping onto a blooter forward from Kyle Benedictus, doing well to keep the ball in play before feeding the ball to Daniel Armstrong who was in support on the right, but his cross into the area was over everyone’s heads.
Despite that bright start, the visitors enjoyed a decent amount of possession in the game’s opening exchanges, but it was Rovers who fashioned the game’s first clear chance.
A corner was initially cleared by the Alloa backline, before being played back into the area and into the feet of Kai Kennedy six yards out, but as you waited for the net to bulge, a fine sliding tackle from Scott Taggart stopped the chance dead.
Alloa had their first sight at goal in the 10th minute, when Innes Cameron tried his luck from distance, with an effort that despite bouncing in front of Jamie MacDonald, was easily gathered by the ‘keeper.
Alloa’s on-loan striker has been in good form in recent weeks, and couldn’t really be afforded time and space, but he got a run on Kevin Cawley’s cross into the penalty box in the 13th minute, rising above Davidson and heading across goal and into the net to put the bottom side in front.
It was a rude awakening for Raith, and they were struggling to get a foothold in the game, with the ball not sticking up top, while crosses from both sides were generally wayward or straight into Nail Parry’s hands.
Rovers were struggling to break down a resolute Alloa side who were defending and pressing well, although Kennedy had his first run at the full back after 25 minutes, which eventually resulted in a 25-yard attempt from Spencer, but his shot went both over the bar, and the safety netting behind it.
Rovers were just starting to take control of the game however, with Armstrong and Kennedy both getting into good areas and sending deliveries into the penalty box, but Parry was still yet to be tested.
It looked like the home side were about to equalise after 36 minutes, when a fine ball into the six-yard-area from Regan Tumilty found Duku at the back post, but from close range he got his finish all wrong and side-footed the ball into the side netting, although a linesman’s flag may have spared some of his blushes.
Rovers had two late opportunities in the half, both coming from free-kicks, but in keeping with the frustrating nature of the first 45, Armstrong put his direct effort into the Wasps wall, while his attempted cross in the final minute was sent harmlessly out of play.
The start of the second half didn’t see too much of a difference from the first, with Rovers seeing plenty of the ball, but not managing to eke out anything in the final third, although Alloa were starting to sit deeper and deeper as the game progressed, and inviting Raith onto them even more.
Rovers did have the ball in the net in the 55th minute, when Armstrong’s corner was nodded into the net by Matthews, but his effort was ruled out, with the referee deciding the midfielder had fouled Parry in the move.
The game had started to look like it was beginning to peter out, but in the 68th minute, Rovers made the scores level from a set piece.
A free-kick was swung in on from the right, and although Parry did well initially to claw away Benedictus’s header, Davidson was on hand to volley the ball into the unguarded net to restore parity to the scoreline.
That goal seemed to galvanize the home side, and they came close again a few minutes later, when Kennedy picked up the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area and drilled a low effort that was tipped away by Parry, but this time no-one was able to steer home the rebound.
McGlynn’s men created another chance with 15 minutes remaining, when Kieran MacDonald’s driven cross found the head of Matthews who had launched himself at the ball, but with litte time to react he could only steer his header over the bar.
Rovers made a change with 13 minutes remaining, with Gozie Ugwu replacing Duku, as Rovers went in search for the winner.
Six minutes later Rovers did have the lead, after an excellently taken strike.
Kennedy was the creator, placing the ball into the path of Hendry, who took the ball first time, and with Parry unable to react quickly enough to the early shot, his effort fizzed into the bottom corner of the net.
With time running out, Alloa manager Peter Grant swapped his son, Ray for forward Liam Buchanan as Athletic went in search for the equaliser, but they fell further behind in the 90th minute.
With Alloa pushing men forward, Kieran MacDonald’s clearance put Gullan, who had replaced Kennedy in the closing minutes in the clear, and while some players may have taken the ball to the corner, Gullan headed straight for goal and wrong footed Parry, who elected to dive to his left, as Gullan swept it into the opposite corner.
The action didn’t end there though, as Alloa were awarded a penalty in the 93rd minute, but despite having a fine record from the penalty spot, Alan Trouten was denied by a brilliant stop from Jamie MacDonald, who dived to his right to tip the ball away.
With the Pars losing to Queen of the South, the win moved Rovers back above Dunfermline in the table, with the Fife rivals facing off against each other next Friday evening, in a match that’s live on BBC Scotland.
The match highlights video will appear here the day after the match
Photographs © Tony Fimister
RaithTV talked to John McGlynn after the win against Alloa Athletic FC
Brad chatted to RaithTV after today’s win
After the disappointment of last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Arbroath, Raith Rovers return to Stark’s Park this Saturday, for the first of three successive home matches.
Alloa Athletic are the opponents, a side who go into this match bottom of the table, and desperate for a win that will close the gap to the teams above them.
They were unfortunate not to take anything from last week’s 2-1 loss to Dunfermline at East End Park, where despite a good performance, they left empty handed, but they did record a good result up north in midweek, after a 2-2 draw against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
That point left them four points behind ninth placed Ayr United, and five behind Morton who are just outside the bottom two spots.
This will be the team’s second meeting this term, with Rovers recording an excellent 5-2 win at the Indodrill on Boxing Day.
Manny Duku and Daniel Armstrong had given Rovers a two goal cushion, although that was halved with 15 minutes remaining, after a goal from Liam Buchanan.
Lars Lokotcsh appeared to make the points safe with five minutes remaining, but in an extraordinary final few minutes, Buchanan scored again in the 89th minute, this time from the penalty spot, but an injury time brace from Ethan Ross put a sheen on the scoreline.
Despite that win, Rovers have a poor record in general in this fixture, with just two wins and four draws from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Steven Kirkland
Head-To-Head Home League Record:
Raith Rovers Wins: 29 | Alloa Athletic Wins: 8 | Draws: 12
Raith Rovers Goals: 115 | Alloa Athletic Goals: 57
Raith Rovers: W-L-W-L-W-L
Alloa Athletic: L-L-W-D-L-D
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 10 | Daniel Armstrong 4
Alloa Athletic: Robert Thomson 6 | Alan Trouten 6
Raith Rovers: 4/7 | Alloa Athletic: 17/4 | Draw: 16/5