Rovers hopes for the play-off places rest on a knife edge after Ben Williamson’s double against Hamilton Accies gave his side the slimmest of chances of extending their season in a 2-0 win at New Douglas Park.
Strikes either side of half time from the Rangers loanee meant that the goal deficit between his side and promotion rivals Partick Thistle is eight goals heading into the final day.
Rovers could’ve been ahead after five minutes after Ross Matthews was cynically brought down by Steve Lawson to prevent the midfielder running into the box, this allowed Ethan Ross to step up, but his right footed effort from 20-yards was well held by Fulton in the middle of the goal.
Ben Williamson thought he’d won his side a penalty two minutes later as Rovers looked to get an early goal. He raced onto Benedictus’ long ball over the top, beating O’Reilly for pace and he looked to have been brought down by the Irishman, and despite an initial look to award the spot kick he waved play on.
Rovers blistering start would be rewarded with 11 minutes on the clock. A ball into the feet of Reghan Tumilty saw him sprint away down the right hand side, giving the ball to Connolly who drove through the Accies midfield, giving the ball out to Williamson who managed to slip the ball into the feet of Poplatnik with a first time pass from the right hand side of the ‘D’ who took a touch to take Popescu out of the game before seeing his shot blocked, allowing Williamson to follow up with a header that Fulton could only tip onto the post as it bounced off the woodwork and back into the net.
Rovers were unlucky not to be two up with 21 minutes on the clock after Josh Mullin’s ball forward was picked off by Sam Stanton on halfway, who immediately played Ethan Ross in down the left hand side free in the channel. His first time pass picked out Aidan Connolly who darted from the right hand side into the edge of the area and his first time effort was beautifully struck as it rattled off the bar and off the line which saw the hosts let off yet again.
Matej Poplatnik thought he had doubled his sides lead in the closing stages of the first half but for the linesman’s flag. A great piece of play from Aidan Connolly saw him play a first time reverse cross back into the box, looking to beat the offside trap after his initial corner was cleared, his effort found Poplatnik who was free in the box and he made no mistake in slotting the ball into the bottom left corner, but the linesman’s flag was already raised for offside.
However it would be Ben Williamson who doubled his and his side’s advantaged 13-minutes after the restart. Ethan Ross’ hooked ball over the top down the left channel was chased down by Williamson, who outmuscled O’Reilly on the left hand edge of the box, he then moved away with the ball and into the box and kept his composure to slot the ball into the bottom right corner.
Rovers looked to see the game out and were unlucky not to get a third on two occasions as slips from Sean Mackie and Sam Stanton saw good slick moves break down at the vital moment.
But it was nearly a dream debut for Accies man, Adam McGowan, who managed to get away down the left and cut inside Brad Spencer on the edge of the area. His left footed curling effort was a good one, good enough to have Jamie MacDonald scrambling as his effort flew just the wrong side of the post.
The result left many wondering “what if” after Thistle’s 1-0 victory over Dunfermline, but there could yet be another twist in the tale in what has been a rollercoaster of a season.
© E Doig
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after today’s win:
All roads lead to Lanarkshire as Rovers head to the Fountain of Youth Stadium as they know only a win will do if they are to remain in the hunt for the Promotion Play-Offs.
John McGlynn’s side head to Hamilton in good spirits after last week’s stunning late Matej Poplatnik winner against Partick Thistle in Maryhill saw their season take yet another twist in the tale as they mounted the pressure on their Glasgow counterparts going into the final two games.
That would turn out to be Poplatnik’s sixth goal in seven games and his 11th in all competitions this season, something that has proven to be invaluable to John McGlynn’s side as they look to pull themselves over the final hurdle after a turbulent season.
Accies however also come into the game full of confidence after managing to get one over club legend Dougie Imrie last time out as they saw off Morton 1-0 in Inverclyde.
Stuart Taylor’s side won the game thanks to David Moyo’s 5th minute strike and they come into the game off the back of a run that has seen them only lose once in their last five games.
The fixture has provided plenty of drama so far this season, where Rovers threw away a four goal lead against then manager, Brian Rice’s side on the opening game of the campaign before a 3-0 reverse at tomorrow’s venue and a draw back at Stark’s Park see the Rovers have a slight psychological edge going into the tie.
Accies Wins: 8 Raith Rovers Wins: 7 Draws: 8
Raith Rovers: D-W-L-L-W
Raith Rovers: Matej Poplatnik 11, Dario Zanatta 9, Aidan Connolly 7,
Accies: Andy Ryan 9, David Moyo 8, Andy Winter 4
Referee: Steven McLean