Late Gullan Goal Seals Three Points
Raith Rovers returned to winning ways in the Championship this afternoon, with a vital 1-0 win over Morton at Stark’s Park
Rovers had held the upper hand for the bulk of the game, but couldn’t find a way past a well organised and resolute Morton defence, but with time running out, Jamie Gullan came off the bench to win the game with a well executed finish
John McGlynn made two changes from the midweek cup win over Stirling Albion, with Gullan and Kai Kennedy being replaced by Manny Duku and Daniel Armstrong.
Duku partnered Gozie Ugwu up top, in an attempt to restore goals to a side which had struggled to pry open defences in the last few league games.
However, it was who Morton created the game’s first chance in the fourth minute, when Gary Oliver made good headway down the left before drilling a cross to the back post, where Darren Hynes elected to strike first time, volleying into the side netting when he probably had time to bring it down.
Most of Morton’s good play was coming down their left-hand side, and Lewis Strapp was the next to attack down that wing, with Regan Hendry and Reghan Tumilty eventually combining to stop him as made his way into the area.
It was the Raith right back who had Rovers first attempt at goal in the 13th minute, when a deep cross from the left found the attacking full back, but after doing well to cut inside and fashion the shooting chance, his effort lacked pace and was easily gathered by Aidan McAdams.
Rovers were starting to exert themselves on the game as the half progressed, keeping possession well and probing the Morton defence, although chances were slow in materialising.
They did eke out a decent chance in the 23rd minute, when Kieran MacDonald’s cross from the left was met by Duku, but the cross was just too high for him, and he could only send his header over the crossbar.
The game almost had it’s opening goal after the half hour mark, when a poor clearance found Steven McGinn 25 yards from goal, and his effort had Jamie MacDonald scrambling across goal, but the shot flashed just wide of his right-hand post.
Rovers had fallen out the game a little, and while they were seeing plenty of the ball, their slow patient build up play was allowing the Greenock side to get men behind the ball, and stifle Raith’s advances.
Gus MacPherson’s team on the other hand were going much more direct, but Kyle Benedictus and Frankie Musonda were coping pretty admirably with the questions they were being posed.
Rovers were unchanged at the start of the second period, but they seemed to have a little more vim about their play after they emerged from the tunnel.
An excellent cross from the right hand side from Tumilty looked ideal for Ugwu, but he didn’t quite time his header correctly, and his attempt was more cushioned than powered into McAdam’s arms.
Rovers had started the second half well, with the bulk of the opening five minutes taking place in Morton’s final third.
Duku and Ugwu were starting to make their presence felt, with flick ons and hold up play, but it was another duo, Regan Hendry and Daniel Armstrong who combined to almost open the scoring.
A one two combination on the edge of the box presented Hendry with a sight at goal, and while his shot was fierce, it lacked accuracy, and it zipped just wide.
Rovers were chapping on the door now, and a good ball in from Hendry found Duku in space in the area, but from close range, he couldn’t steer his header on target and the chance was wasted.
Rovers made a double change with 25 minutes remaining, with Ugwu and Armstrong being replaced by Gullan and Lewis Vaughan.
The latter was involved straight away, getting on the end of a Tumilty cross, but in what had become very much a trend in the game, a Rovers forward wasn’t able to get a header on target.
McGlynn then made his final change with 20 minutes left, with Ross Matthews coming on for Adam King.
Rovers were starting to dominate now, and Vaughan did well to wriggle away from a crowd of defenders and get a shot off which McAdam did well to palm away.
It felt like it was potentially turning into one of those days, but with nine minutes left, Rovers at last got the breakthrough.
A corner was flicked on to the back post by Duku, and Gullan met it superbly to drill a shot across goal and in off the inside of the post.
The goal was thoroughly merited based on the balance of play, and while Morton now had to go for it, Rovers comfortably held them at arm’s length for the rest of the match.
Kalvin Orsi did have a half chance with full time approaching, but his deflected effort was easily snaffled up by MacDonald.
That win lifted Raith up to second in the table, although that could change on Saturday night, with Dundee and Dunfermline duking it out in a live televised match.
Rovers will be back in action again this Tuesday night, when Dunfermline are the visitors in the third Fife derby of the season.
Photographs © Tony Fimister
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the win at Stark’s Park
After getting back to winning ways against Stirling Albion in midweek, Raith Rovers get back to league action at the weekend, when they welcome Greenock Morton to Stark’s Park.
Goals from Gozie Ugwu and Dylan Tait allowed Rovers to advance through to the next round of the Scottish Cup, with a visit to Livingston the prize for the 2-0 win.
Saturday’s opponents, Morton, are also in the next round following a midweek win, after a penalty shoot out triumph over Dunfermline, after the two teams played out a goalless draw.
The Greenock side have a new manager in the dugout, with Gus MacPherson taking charge until the end of the season, replacing interim boss Anton McElhone, who’d held the reins since David Hopkins departure in December.
The former St Mirren boss seems to have made a positive impact, with that cup success coming on the back of an excellent 2-1 win over Queen of the South last weekend, a win that lifted them three points above Arbroath who reside in the relegation playoff position.
This will be the third meeting of the sides this term, and Raith have a 100% record against the Ton so far.
Rovers put in arguably their finest performance of the season in the first meeting in November, with goals from Frankie Musonda, Daniel Armstrong, Fernandy Mendy and a brace from Ross Matthews easing Raith to a 5-0 win.
It was a far tighter affair last month though, with an Iain Davidson goal all that separated the teams at Cappielow.
Those results extended Rovers good record in this fixture, with seven wins from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be John Beaton.
Head-To-Head Home League Record Versus Morton:
Raith Rovers Wins: 32
Morton Wins: 16
Raith Rovers Goals: 110
Morton Goals: 67
Raith Rovers: W-D-D-L-D-W
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 10, Daniel Armstrong 4
Morton: Aidan Nesbitt 4, Craig McGuffie 3, Kalvin Orsi 3
Raith Rovers: 10/11