Latest Win Lifts Raith To Second
Raith Rovers made it four league wins in five this afternoon, and moved up to second in the table in the process, after a 2-1 win over Arbroath.
Two goals book-ended the first half with Raiths scoring in the third minute and 45th to lead 2-0 at the interval, but an injury time goal from Anton Dowds had Raith fans biting their nails in the closing stages, and not for the first time this season!
Raith fans were delighted with the signing of Ethan Ross in midweek, but the former Aberdeen man had to be content with a seat on the bench, as John McGlynn went with the same starting eleven which defeated East Fife in the SPFL Trust Trophy.
Dick Campbell’s men have been in excellent form this season, but they found themselves a goal down after just three minutes, after a brilliantly crafted goal.
Reghan Tumilty was heavily involved in the build up, getting forward well and starting an intricate passing move at the right hand side of the penalty area which eventually ended with Dylan Tait in possession in the box.
With space opening up in front of him he advanced into it, and with the aid of a deflection, guided the ball past Derek Gaston to put the home side into an early lead.
It was the best possible start for Raith who were bossing the opening stages of the game, passing the ball around their opponents who had started the game in a surprisingly flat manner.
That said, they almost had an equaliser after 11 minutes, when former Raith player, James Craigen found space 20 yards from goal, and while his fiercely struck drive had Jamie MacDonald scrambling to his left, the ball struck the outside of the post and bounced away.
Rovers were popping the ball around well in the middle of the park, and Liam Dick was the next to try his luck, with an effort from distance that went beyond Gaston but just over the bar.
Rovers fans were adamant they should have had a penalty in the 25th minute, after Ethon Varian did well to beat another former Raith player, Jason Thomson to the ball and advance at goal, but with Thomson in pursuit, Varian went down as he shaped to shoot, but referee, Steven McLean waved play on.
Joel Nouble and Mikey McKenna have formed a formidable partnership up front for Arbroath, and they combined effectively for the first time just before the half hour mark.
Nouble’s clever through pass played McKenna in, but MacDonald did well to rush from his line and block his attempt.
The visitors were starting to enjoy their best spell of the match, putting the Raith defence under pressure, while pressing the midfield and denying them the amount of time they’d been enjoying early in the game.
The game had started to become bit more physical, with Christophe Berra and Varian making their way into the book, before Arbroath’s Colin Hamilton also earned himself a yellow card for a late challenge on Tait.
Rovers found themselves in the ascendancy again as the half drew to a close, and they doubled their lead in the 45th minute, with another brilliantly constructed goal.
Tumilty started the move with a sweeping crossfield pass to Dario Zanatta on the left, and his pinpoint cross was ideal for Ross Matthews, whose header was perfectly placed past Gaston’s despairing dive to his left to give Rovers the perfect end to a half which had started the same way.
Arbroath were straight on the front foot at the start of the second period, with Dale Hilson seeing a shot deflected wide for a corner kick, which from it, another effort was pinged just wide.
A slip in midfield allowed Arbroath to stretch Rovers again a minute later, but with space opening up for Nouble, you expected the on-loan Livi man to strike at goal, but his attempted pass went all wrong and the chance was lost.
Rovers almost capitalised on that profligacy in the 54th minute, when a free kick was well worked to the back post, and with four Rovers players congregating, you presumed one of them was about to extend the lead yet further, but Brad Spencer could only shank his first time effort wide of the post.
A minute later they had another good opportunity, when Varian was played in on goal, but with Gaston closing the angle, the goalkeeper was able to deflect the shot away with his outstretched leg.
Arbroath were a little penned in at this point, and Zanatta was next to try his luck, getting the ball in the corner and working his way into the area, before seeing his shot deflected away.
Aidan Connolly was having a positive impact on the game in the second period, and it looked like he had a chance to make it 3-0 with a little over 20 minutes remaining, but he pulled his shot wide, at the same time as the linesman raised his flag.
Arbroath had made all their subs, but it was Raith who looked the likelier to score, and Zanatta came close in the 71st minute, when he got on the end of a cross from the right by Spencer, but Gaston blocked his shot from close range.
It was to be the Canadian’s last contribution to the game, with he and Varian being replaced for Matej Poplatnik and Ross for the game’s final 17 minutes.
Rovers appeared to be seeing out the game comfortably, but there was concern in the 86th minute, when MacDonald went down in a heap after lunging forward to punch the ball clear, although he was okay to continue after some lengthy treatment.
As had been the case a few times at Stark’s Park this season, Rovers weren’t quite able to keep the door completely locked in the final minutes, and Arbroath gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the final few seconds, when Dowds bundled home from close range after a stramash following a corner kick.
However, Steven McLean blew for time just a moment later, meaning Rovers now only sit behind Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the table, with the two meeting at Stark’s Park in a huge game next weekend.
Photographs © Tony Fimister
Paul Smith talked to RaithTV after the win against Arbroath FC:
Ross Matthews spoke to RaithTV after the win against Arbroath FC:
Raith Rovers complete the first quarter of their Championship campaign this weekend, when third placed Arbroath are the visitors to Stark’s Park.
Depending on results elsewhere, Rovers could rise to second in the table with a win on Saturday, but that will be easier said than done against an Arbroath side who are seven league games unbeaten.
Dick Campbell’s side have been in fine form this season, with just one defeat from their opening eight league games helping Campbell to the manager of the month award for September.
Central to the Red Lichties run has been the performances of striker, Joe Nouble, with the on-loan Livingston man forming an excellent partnership with Michael McKenna, who is the club’s top scorer with seven goals.
The two teams couldn’t be separated last term, with one win and a draw apiece, with Rovers win coming on the opening day of the season.
Goals from Daniel Armstrong, Reghan Tumilty and Regan Hendry had Rovers three goals up at the interval, and while the home side had more chances to extend their lead, the match ended in a 3-0 win for John McGlynn’s side.
Arbroath turned the tables in February however, when Kris Doolan scored the only goal at Gayfield, and it finished all square in April, despite Rovers taking a two goal lead.
A brace from Daniel Armstrong had appeared to be enough to give Rovers all three points, but late goals from Jack Hamilton and Ricky Little meant the points were shared.
Rovers hold the upper hand in this fixture in recent years, but only just, with three wins to Arbroath’s two from the last 10 meetings.
Saturday’s match referee will be Steven McLean.