Team Pd GD Pt
1 Kilmarnock 36 23 67
2 Arbroath 36 26 65
3 Inverness CT 36 19 59
4 Partick Thistle 36 6 52
5 Raith Rovers 36 0 50
6 Hamilton Academical 36 -15 42
7 Greenock Morton 36 -11 40
8 Ayr United 36 -13 39
9 Dunfermline 36 -17 35
10 Queen of the South 36 -18 33
Updated: 30th Apr
Saturday March 26th 2022

Arbroath 3 – 3 Raith Rovers

A gutsy Rovers away performance was undone as they let a 3-1 lead slip as Arbroath fought back to an enthralling 3-3 draw at Gayfield.

Goals from Matej Poplatnik, Aidan Connolly and Ethon Varian weren’t enough as Dick Campbell’s side sought to take advantage of a reshuffled Rovers backline as injuries ravaged the camp, with two second half goals from Dale Hilson coming back to haunt the Paul Smith – led side.

On what was nothing short of a stunning day on the Angus coast, Rovers got off to the worst possible start as they found themselves going a goal behind with under a minute on the clock as Jack Hamilton rocketed his side in front with a pinpoint finish inside the box.
Nicky Low’s corner from the right-hand side was half cleared at the front post, which was headed across the six-yard line for Jason Thomson to try and volley towards goal from a tight angle, but a Rovers body got in the way, meaning the ball bounced back across the box, and into the path of Hamilton, who made no mistake in rifling the ball into the top left corner with a brilliant first-time finish as Rovers failed to clear their lines.

Testament to the work by John McGlynn and Paul Smith in recent weeks, Rovers dug deep and found themselves on level terms on the cusp of the half hour mark thanks to that man again, Matej Poplatnik who netted his third goal in three games with a great instinctive finish. Ethon Varian did well to win the ball on half way and loft a ball over the top of the Arbroath backline, allowing the Slovenian to run in behind and one on one with Callum Antell, who hesitated in picking the ball up on the edge of his area, which in turn caused him to spill the ball into the path of the Rovers forward who lunged and forced the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from eighteen yards with an instinctive finish to level things up before going into the half time interval.

Poplatnik pounces on the ball spilled by the keeper

Rovers second half couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as they found themselves going 2-1 up and ahead for the first time three minutes after the restart as Aidan Connolly’s New Year resurgence continued. Some great work down the left from Sean Mackie saw him bypass a sea of Arbroath bodies as he made his way into the box, evading tackles left right and centre, before hitting the by-line and finding the run of Connolly, who drifted into the back stick unmarked to sweep the ball home with a left footed finish from 8-yards out.

Ethon Varian thought he had Rovers home and hosed with little over 25 minutes to play as he capped off a scintillating Rovers counter-attack to make it 3-1 and have the promotion push firmly back on the cards as they moved on level terms with Partick Thistle, who lost out to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Some fantastic hold-up play from Poplatnik in his own half saw him spin away from Ricky Little and free Connolly down the right-hand side, who sprinted to get to the ball down the line ahead of Thomson and flick the ball in behind the full back for Varian to run onto, with the Stoke loanee making no mistake in shifting the ball out to the left to create an angle and then fire the ball across Antell and into the bottom right corner.

Ethon Varian celebrates after netting Rovers’ third.

However, this spurred Arbroath into life as they fought back to level the game up with two goals inside three minutes from Dale Hilson looked to flip the game on its head. As Rovers sat deep and soaked up the pressure, Nicky Low lifted the ball into the area for Hamilton to flick on, beating McKay in the air, allowing Hilson to ghost into the box unmarked and head the ball first time past Robbie Thomson with a diving effort from 12 yards into the bottom right corner making It 3-2 four minutes later.

Dick Campbells side smelt blood and found themselves on level terms with 20-mintues to play. The Red Lichties overloaded the left wing, causing Connolly and Tumilty problems as they couldn’t clear their lines, with Varian coming back to help out, with his clearance going back across his own box as opposed to away from goal. This meant McKay headed the ball back out to Donnelly on the left, who cut back onto his right foot at the edge of the box and curled a dangerous ball into the back post, for Jack Hamilton to head towards goal onto the crossbar and back into play, allowing Hilson to follow up and head home from a few yards out.

The equaliser meant that the gap between Rovers and Thistle opened back up to two points as the promotion push took another twist in the tale as the season enters its final stages.

Photographs © Eddie Doig.

Welcome to today’s 2nd v 5th, Arbroath v Raith at Gayfield Park. It’s a lovely sunny still day here. Don’t think I’ve ever experienced it like this here
Raith forced into a number of defensive changes. Thomson taking over in goals, Dick, McKay and Mackie getting a start. Gullan also coming back in
Good away support here today as well
Matthews has taken up the captains armband for today’s game
Arbroath get the game underway. Raith shooting towards their own fans this half towards the harbour end
Goal Arbroath from an early corner
Hamilton for Arbroath scores
Gullan from a free kick gets the ball into the Arbroath box, a flick on forces Antell to palm save away
Poplatnik is right behind Little as the ball threatens towards the Arbroath goal but Little head back to the keeper
Poplatnik is right behind Little as the ball threatens towards the Arbroath goal but Little head back to the keeper
Free kick Arbroath after Tumilty fouls
Arbroath corner
Ball is out into the Raith box and it’s cleared but falls to Craigen who blasts it wide
Dick thumps the ball out the park to stop Wighton pouncing
Poplatnik gets the ball he turns to run up the left flank but Little challenges
Free kick Arbroath after a foul on O’Brien by Poplatnik
Corner Arbroath after from the free kick ball is placed to the back post and Raith clear
Ball is eventually cleared but also results in a free kick to Raith
Ball is eventually cleared but also results in a free kick to Raith
Raith’ s first corner of the afternoon
Raith’ s first corner of the afternoon
Nothing comes of it after ball is placed back to Connolly who whips it over to Dick but he is challenged
Play had been halted after Varian and Gullan collided together on the park,
Raith have been forced into yet again an early change as Gullan is taken off and on comes Ross
Arbroath corner
Ball put into the Raith box but Arbroath head out, goalkick
Tumilty tries to get the ball upfield to Poplatnik but it doesn’t work out as Arbroath head clear
Arbroath corner
Nothing comes of it as the ball gets to the back post area but bounces out of play, goalkick
Free kick Arbroath as the ref decides Poplatnik holds on to an Arbroath players shorts
It’s POPLATNIK as Antell comes out his goal area and Poppy slots home for Raith
It’s POPLATNIK as Antell comes out his goal area and Poppy slots home for Raith
Ross is down injured … Little for Arbroath is booked
Poplatnik flicks the ball on Varian is there but Little gets the ball back to the keeper
Tumilty can’t quite get the ball under control in the middle of the field
Connolly tries to feed the ball on to Varian but it doesn’t come to fruition
Play halted as Ross is knocked out in the middle of the park. He’s come round quickly
+1 Ross is back on his feet
+2 Ball is placed into the Arbroath box but Poplatnik slips
+3 ref blows for half time Arbroath 1 ( Hamilton 1’) Raith 1 (Poplatnik 40’)
Raith get the game back underway
McKay thumps the ball completely out of the park,
Hamilton from the throw in gets the ball into the box but McKay heads clear
It’s CONNOLLY who is unmarked thumps goal number two for Raith
Thomson with a great save as Arbroath look like scoring
O’Brien is booked
Free kick Raith after a foul on Mackie just in Rovers half
Arbroath corner
Ball is placed into the centre of the box but Arbroath head out, goal kick
Tumilty with a crucial head back to Thomson
Play halted after head knock between Matthews and Hamilton
A scrap has happened not sure if between Tumilty and Colin Hamilton but both players booked
Game back underway
Great ball from Matthews to Poplatnik but the latter is fouled as he runs up field
Arbroath double substitution off go Wighton and Craigen and on come Hilson and Donnelly
Mackay and Tumilty play well together to defend the right hand corner
VARIAN has the ball he gets round his man and he thumps goal number three for Raith
Arbroath score and it’s Hilson
Free kick Raith after Connolly is fouled by Donnelly
Arbroath equalise
Free kick Arbroath
Thomson for Arbroath gets the ball into the Raith box, they head toward goal but Robbie Thomson collects
Tumilty with a crucial clearance
Connolly feeds the ball out to Tumilty who then immediately puts the ball into the mix but Arbroath clear
Poplatnik to Connolly who has a pop but nothing comes of it
Arbroath 3 Raith 3
Attendance is 2118 with 290 Raith fans
Thomson for Arbroath has a shot but it’s well over the bar
Thomson for Arbroath has a shot but it’s well over the bar
Triple substitution for Arbroath off go Thomson, Christopher Hamilton and McKenna and on come Gold, Linn and Stewart
Ref having a word with Campbell
McKay heads back to Thomson as Hilson comes running in
Arbroath corner
Ball placed into the box. It’s battered around and it’s eventually thumped high over the bar, goal kick
Raith sub of Poplatnik and on comes Zanatta
Arbroath break through have a shot Thomson saves and McKay clears
Connolly with a crucial block
Ref blows for full time Arbroath 3 (Hamilton1’, Hilson 66’, McKenna) Raith 3 ( Poplatnik 30’, Connolly 48’ Varian 64’). Tough game for a defensively depleted Raith squad but they played well
Arbroath: Antell, Thomson, Hamilton, Little, O’Brien, Low, Hamilton, McKenna, Wighton, Hamilton, Craigen

Subs: Gold, Hilson, Swankie, Linn, Stewart, Donnelly, Ford, Bakare, Gaston

Raith Rovers: Thomson, Tumilty, Dick, Connolly, Matthews, Gullan, McKay, Stanton, Varian, Mackie, Poplatnik

Subs: Zanatta, Spencer, Ross, Arnott, Young, Budinauckas

©Eddie Doig

Paul Smith talked to RaithTV after the 3-3 draw at Gayfield:


Goalscorer Aidan Connolly talked to RaithTV after the match: