Dens Disappointment For Raith
The fight for second place in the Championship will go right to the wire next Friday, after Raith Rovers lost out to Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon.
Trailing two nil at half time, after a penalty goal from Jason Cummings and a header from Liam Fontaine, a much improved Rovers team dominated the ball in the second period, but while they reduced the arrears in the closing moments through Kyle Benedictus, they were unable to get the all important equaliser.
John McGlynn made two changes from last week’s 2-1 win over Alloa, with Daniel Armstrong dropping to the bench, to make way for the returning Kieran MacDonald.
Jamie Gullan also made his return from injury, winning a place in the starting eleven at the expense of Adam King.
The first five minutes suggested we could be in for an open game, with a back-and-forth start to proceedings, albeit only one shot at goal was produced in that time, with MacDonald’s attempt from distance lacking pace and direction, dribbling wide of Adam Legzdins goal.
Dundee were working hard to close Raith down and give them no time to play the neat passing game which they’ve displayed for much of the season.
As a consequence, Rovers were having to play more direct than normal, but the forwards of Gozie Ugwu and Gullan were struggling to get on the end of the long balls forward.
With neither ‘keeper tested, the game’s opening goal came somewhat out the blue, but the home side had it in the 13th minute.
It followed excellent work from Cammy Kerr down the left, which saw him advance forward and deliver a cross in the penalty area for Cummings, who had time to bring the ball down, set himself and shoot at goal, which was blocked by Benedictus.
However, referee Willie Collum declared that the defender had halted it with his hand, and awarded the penalty, which Cummings confidently dispatched beyond Jamie MacDonald.
It had been a tentative opening from Raith, but after the disappointment of going goal down, they eventually started to get their foot on the ball and keep possession more, albeit without threatening to get behind the home backline.
After an encouraging start from both teams, neither side had had much to shout about since Cummings penalty had stuck the back of the net, with both teams struggling to string passes together.
Rovers did create a half chance after half an hour, when a nice piece of build up play saw the ball worked out wide to MacDonald, and after doing well to evade the defender and cut inside for a shooting opportunity, his shot was well blocked, for a corner that came to nothing.
It was 2-0 a few moments later though, and already, the game appeared to be beyond Raith.
A corner was swung in from the left, and although Liam Fontaine’s header was hacked away by Regan Hendry, Collum had decided the ball had already crossed the line.
While it didn’t look like it had from initial viewing, a lack of protestation from those in white suggested the decision may have been correct.
Rovers now had, if not a mountain, then a pretty steep hill to navigate if they wanted to find a way back into this one, and Dylan Tait tried his luck from distance in the 40th minute, and although Legdzdins looked concerned, it flew just wide.
Rovers last chance of the half came from a corner in the final minute, but Kennedy’s delivery was too deep, which meant Rovers went into the interval two down, and with it all to do in the second 45.
McGlynn’s men were needing an early goal to force their way back into proceedings, and Tumilty attempted to reproduce a strike similar to his goal the last time the two sides met in January, but his effort from 30-yards ended up way over the bar.
With Raith’s system failing to trouble James McPake’s men, John McGlynn made his first change, with Lewis Vaughan replacing Kennedy in the 58th minute.
Rovers were enjoying plenty of the ball now, but with Dundee looking organised, they’d still yet to have a shot on target in the first two thirds of the match.
They did force a save out of Legzdins in the 68th minute, and it came on the back of their best piece of football in the game.
Regan Hendry and Ugwu exchanged passes, with Hendry bursting through the Dundee defence, but his fierce attempt at goal was well judged by the Dee ‘keeper.
Rovers eked out another good chance with 15 minutes left, when Tumilty’s fizzed cross from the right was met by Vaughan at the back post, but he nodded the ball wide of goal.
With time running out, Adam King replaced Ugwu which allowed Vaughan to move up top alongside Gullan.
Rovers thought they had a penalty with five minutes remaining, when Hendry was brought down in the box, but the linesman had already raise his flag for an offside, but Rovers did have a late goal in the 88th minute.
Hendry did well to get to the bye-line, and his low cross was forced over the line at the back post by Benedictus.
They’d left it late, but suddenly Rovers had hope of finding an equaliser, but their plight was made far more difficult when Tait was adjudged to have committed a red card offence on Paul McGowan, and the home side were able to see out the last few minutes.
The result means Raith are one point clear of third placed Dundee with one game remaining, and they’ll now need a to defeat champions Hearts next Friday at Stark’s Park, or hope Queen of the South can get a positive result at home to Dundee, to finish second in the table.
Photo Gallery by courtesy of Dundee FC
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the defeat to Dundee FC:
Raith Rovers face another huge game this weekend, when they look to secure a second placed finish against Dundee at Dens Park.
Dundee’s draw with Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Tuesday means Rovers can finish no lower than third in the table now, but with the advantage the runner up position gives in the playoffs, Rovers will be looking to secure it against the only other contender on Saturday.
Finishing in second place would mean Raith go straight through to the semi-finals, and with no team ever winning the playoffs after finishing third or fourth in the table, it’s clear that finishing positions can be vital.
You have to go back some way to find Rovers last win at Dens Park, with a 1-0 Scottish Cup victory in November 2013 the last time Raith were victorious at the venue, thanks to a bizarre own goal from Gary Irvine.
Rovers can take heart from their performances against the Dee this term however, and are unbeaten in their two games to date.
Charlie Adam fired the home side into the lead the last time Rovers visited in October, but Frankie Musonda’s late leveller saw the points shared.
It was a far more one sided encounter at Stark’s Park in January however, when despite falling a goal behind early, Raith deservedly won 3-1, thanks to goals from Kyle Benedictus, Reghan Tumilty and Kai Kennedy.
Despite those results this term, Raith have just two wins and three draws from their last 10 meetings in this fixture.
Saturday’s match referee will be William Collum.
Head-To-Head Away League Record:
Dundee Wins: 34 | Raith Rovers Wins: 9 | Draws: 16
Dundee Goals: 117 | Raith Rovers Goals: 66
Dundee: W-L-W-D-D-D | Raith Rovers: W-W-L-D-W-W
Dundee: Osman Sow 9 | Daniel Mullen 7
Raith Rovers: Manny Duku 10 | Daniel Armstrong 6
Dundee: 20/21 | Raith Rovers: 13/5 | Draw: 5/2