Rovers Out After Celtic Park Defeat
Raith Rovers League Cup run was ended by a ruthless Celtic side this evening, as the home team ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
Goals in the first half from Jota and Liel Abada had the hosts in complete control at the interval, and a strike right after half-time from David Turnbull put the game beyond doubt.
John McGlynn made one swap from the side which won one nil at Greenock at the weekend, with Brad Spencer dropping to the bench, and Aidan Connolly returning to the starting eleven.
Celtic went with a strong looking starting eleven for the match, as Ange Postecoglou and his side went looking to arrest a slide which had posted it’s worst start to a league season since 1998.
The fans were treated to a pulsating light show before the match, which was reminiscent of Jackie O’s in its pomp, as the players emerged to a Celtic Park which couldn’t cater a visiting support, despite only being around a third full.
Once the dancing lights were dimmed, it was a slightly more sedate start to proceedings on the park, although recent Celtic signing Jota flashed an attempt just wide of the target in the third minute, after Rovers had enjoyed a decent amount of possession in the game’s opening moments.
It wasn’t long before Raith had their first shot at goal though, when Dylan Tait and Aidan Connolly combined on the edge of the area, and while Tait was able to get a shot off, he didn’t connect properly and the shot dribbled past Joe Hart’s right-hand post.
It was a tentatively encouraging start to proceedings, with Rovers coping well with Celtic’s early promptings.
The longer the half wore on however, the more Celtic’s attacks were becoming increasingly relentless, with Rovers struggling more and more to get their foot on the ball.
With that in mind, it perhaps wasn’t too surprising when Celtic took the lead in the 25th minute.
James McCarthy’s through ball to Jota saw him beat a haphazard offside trap, and the on-loan Benfica man calmly finished past MacDonald to give Celtic the lead.
Rovers were going to have to find a way to get at Celtic if they were going to change the flow of this game, and they had their first real attempt in the 30th minute, when some poor play from the back from Ange Postecoglou’s men was seized upon by Connolly, but his shot from distance was well stopped by former England goalkeeper, Joe Hart.
With the way the first half was unfolding, the hope was that they could perhaps get to half time and reorganise at the interval, but they were two down in the 40th minute.
Jota was the creator on this occasion, cutting in from the left and sending a shot goalward that MacDonald could only palm away, but Abada was able to nod the rebound into the net to put Celtic well in control.
It was a cruel blow to Rovers, who had been well organised during the first half, but considering how much they’d been penned in, it was also a scoreline which felt about right on the balance of play.
It got even worse for the visitors, when they went three down a minute after the restart.
David Turnbull was able to pick up possession in the middle of the park and run at the back four, and with no-one able to close him down, he was afforded time to pick his spot and curl a shot past MacDonald from 20 plus yards.
It was now a dispirited looking Raith side, and with still more or less half of football to be played, it looked like it was going to be a very long night for the Raith players and fans.
Things took a turn for the worse on the hour mark, when Dario Zanatta, who had already been booked, needlessly brought down Anthony Ralston who had nudged the ball past him and tried to gather it on the other side, and the inevitable red card brought the Canadian’s game to an early finish.
That led to a double change for Rovers, with Ethon Varian and Ross Matthews making way for Matej Poplatnik and Brad Spencer.
Celtic’s pace seemed to relent as the game reached its final 25 minutes or so, and Rovers had a chance to nab a goal of their own, when Tait made some good headway down the left and arrowed into the penalty area, but with Poplanik in support, he delayed his cross and the chance was squandered.
Rovers made two further changes with 20 minutes left, with Connolly and Tait making way for Dave McKay and Kai Fotheringham, and there was a further change three minutes later, when Riley-Snow made way for Arron Arnott.
Rovers were starting to threaten a little more despite being a man down, and they probably should have reduced the arrears with 15 minutes remaining, when Poplatnik found himself inside the area, but with Tumilty up in support, he seemed betwixt and between in terms of whether to go for goal or tee up his colleague, and the ball was eventually cleared.
With the game already done and dusted, the home side moved down through the gears as the clock wound down, as Rovers made it to full time without further damage being inflicted.
Raith will be back at Stark’s Park on league business this Sunday afternoon, when they face fourth placed Partick Thistle in a three o’clock kick off.
The match highlights video will appear here the day after the match
Interviews will appear shortly
Raith Rovers return to the League Cup quarter finals this Thursday, when they head to Celtic Park to face off against Angie Postecoglu’s Celtic team.
It’ll be the first time Rovers have been in the last eight of the League Cup since they faced off against St Johnstone in 1994, and they’ll be hoping everything goes similarly, with a 3-1 win at Perth, followed up by wins over Airdrie and Celtic on the way to winning the trophy.
Celtic have been in faltering form of late, with three league defeats in six, but notably, they’ve a 100% home record, scoring 15 goals in the process against Dundee, St Mirren and Ross County.
This will be the first time the two sides have met since a third round League Cup meeting back in 2015, when goals from Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen eventually saw Celtic home by two goals to nil.
You have to go back a little longer, 1962 to be precise, for Rovers last win at Celtic Park, when a 1-0 win in the old First Division, in a season where Rovers just kept their heads above water in the top flight, finishing 13th from 16, and two points above the relegation zone.
Raith don’t have the best of records in this fixture, with just one draw from the last 10 meetings.
Thursday’s match referee will be David Munro.
Head-To-Head Cup Record Versus Celtic:
Celtic Wins: 20
Raith Rovers Wins: 2
Celtic Goals: 75
Raith Rovers Goals: 20
Raith Rovers: L-W-W-W-L-W
Celtic: Kyogo Furahashi 7, David Turnbull 5
Raith Rovers: Dario Zanatta 5, Lewis Vaughan 4
Raith Rovers: 9/1