Hibs Prevail In Davo Farewell
Raith Rovers fans were able to honour one of their longest serving players on Friday evening, as a tropical Stark’s Park played host to Ian Davidson’s testimonial.
Hibernian were the opponents, and Jack Ross’ men were impressive 3-1 winners on the night, as they concluded their pre-season preparation before beginning their European campaign against Andorans FC Santa Coloma on Thursday.
All four goals were scored in an impressive first half, with Hibernian racing into a three goal lead after just 34 minutes, with goals from Ryan Porteous, Stephen Bradley and Kevin Nisbet.
Rovers did respond through a goal from Aidan Connolly, but on a scorching evening, the pace of the game slowed in the second period, as both teams made full use of their sub benches.
Davidson, the main man of the evening was given a guard of honour as he walked onto the park, and it was a standing ovation that was richly deserved, for a player who made 507 appearances for Raith over two spells with the club.
There’s been a running joke in the build up that a few of those appearances had been cut short due to getting in hot water with officials, and his appearance in this one was curtailed too, but only due to his current side, Brechin City being in action versus Cowdenbeath on Saturday.
As it was, the Raith stalwart was given a rousing acclamation when he was withdrawn after 25 minutes, bringing the curtain down on a lengthy Raith career.
By that stage, the home side were already a goal down, in a match which despite being pre-season in nature, had started at a rip roaring pace, with Hibs taking the lead after just six minutes.
The visitors had already looked dangerous before that, with a couple of deliveries into the area almost bringing about an even earlier opener, and it was another cross which caused the problem, with Josh Magennis’ free kick from the right ideal for Porteous who had been afforded a little too much space eight yards from goal, and his powerful header was thumped past Robbie Thomson and into the net.
Despite the impressive opening from Hibs, Rovers were far from overawed, and they started to cause some problems of their own.
Dario Zanatta collected a forward pass down the left, and after avoiding his man, cutting inside and teeing up Dylan Tait, the midfielder almost brought the scores level, pulling off a stop from Matt Macey, who would have been relieved to see the ball land on the roof of the net, after the ball looped off his hands after his partial stop.
The same two players came together a few moments later, when Porteous’ slack pass out of defence was eagerly pounced on by Tait who advanced forward 25-yards before sending a well struck effort towards goal, but Macey did better on this occasion, diving to his right and pushing away for a corner.
The game now felt like an even contest, but it was two just before the half hour mark, with a goal that was a fine demonstration of Hibs counter-attacking prowess.
The move started in their own penalty area, after an intricate Rovers attack just failed to come off, but within seconds, the ball was down the other end, with ex-Raith forward Nisbet doing well down the left before coming infield and getting a shot off which was blocked, only for Bradley to react sharpest to nod home from six-yards.
Raith barely had a chance to regroup when it was three, and once more, the swiftness of the visitors led to Rovers undoing.
Again, it came when a Raith attack broke down, and one pass later Martin Boyle was sprinting down the left, before delivering a cross for Nisbet to fire home a fine volley.
Rovers reduced that three goal arrears five minutes later though, through some dogged persistence from Matej Poplatnik.
The Slovenian robbed Paul Hanlon of possession on the right-hand side, and after Macey came out to meet him, his clever side pass to Connolly allowed him to force the ball home from close range.
The scoreline could have been even closer just before the interval, when Porteous was again slack with a pass, which allowed Lewis Vaughan a clear run on goal, but Macey did well to divert the ball away with his foot as the striker attempted to round him, and the chance was lost.
With a raft of substitutions being made in the second period, goalmouth incidents were far fewer than in the first, and it was just over the hour mark before the next, with Drey Wright finding Nisbet from the right flank, and his first time effort brought out a decent stop from Thomson.
Just a minute later, Wright took matters into his own hands, latching onto a through ball and outpacing the Rovers defence, but his shot was well stopped by Thomson.
With 20 minutes left, Hibs almost made it four, when Darren McGregor headed Melker Hellberg’s set piece delivery just wide, and that was the final action of an evening which was a fine work out for both sides, and a great send off for a Raith legend.
Photographs © Tony Fimister