Rovers ‘all or nothing’ season continues – as does the pink strip hoodoo
This one pretty much went to form for the season: Rovers either win or lose, and Ayr has shown they’ve got the enviable ability to grind out victories. This is why the latter sit top of the league, whereas Rovers sit in 7th and starting to fall adrift of the top four.
Rovers made a couple of changes from last week’s cup win with Liam Dick and Kyle Connell coming back into the team, Ryan Nolan and Sam Stanton dropping to the bench.
The game started with Rovers on the front foot, controlling a lot of possession but struggling to carve out any real goal scoring opportunities. The best early chance fell to Connor O’Riordan but his header from a corner went over the bar.
Next up was Lewis Vaughan, but his shot from outside the box was deflected wide. Ayr threatened next as Kieran Ngwenya was caught in possession on the halfway line, Logan Chalmers charged forward for the hosts and his left-football shot curled just wide with Jamie MacDonald at full stretch.
It wasn’t long before Ayr broke the deadlock – on the 31st minute to be precise. A long ball wasn’t dealt with by O’Riordan and after some clever footwork from Chalmers, his cross was slotted home by Josh Mullin at the back post. Ayr 1-0 Rovers.
Half-time: Ayr Utd 1-0 Raith Rovers
As the hardy travelling Rovers’ fans were expecting a fast start to the second half (becoming a bit of a theme), it never really materialised. The biggest shout probably came from a penalty claim as Vaughan’s cross seemed to hit the arm of the Ayr defender – V.A.R. would probably have given it but this is a technology a long way away from affecting the Scottish Championship.
Ayr then went close with Mullin’s deflected shot looping just wide of MacDonald’s right post. But they didn’t have to wait long to confirm the three points were staying at Somerset. With 20 minutes to go, Rovers again conceded possession on halfway. Ayr stretched the play wide to the right, and after some nice footwork from Dipo Akinyemi, he floated over a cross which was met perfectly by Mullin to head into the bottom corner. Ayr 2-0 Rovers.
The 2nd goal effectively killed the game, and although Rovers made substitutions, a comeback never looked likely.
Disappointing day for Rovers while Ayr stay top of the league as we approach the half-way point in the season.
Full Time: Ayr Utd 2-0 Raith Rovers
By David Proudfoot
Subs: McAdams, Smith, Young, Bilham, Ashford, Watret, Bangala, Mitchell-Lawson, Bryden
Raith Rovers: MacDonald, Dick, Millen, Spencer, Connolly, Vaughan, O’Riordan, Ngwenya, Connell, Brown (C), Easton
Subs: McNeil, Nolan, Gullan, McBride, Lang, Ross, Coulson, Frederiksen, Stanton
Manager Ian Murray spoke after the game
After Raith Rovers returned to winning ways in the Scottish Cup against Auchinleck Talbot last weekend, they’ll be hoping to get one over another Ayrshire side this Saturday, when they travel to face Ayr United.
The Honest Men are on a great run of seven games unbeaten, with their last defeat coming in October against Dundee, and that sequence sees them top of the Championship, a point clear of second placed Morton.
Rovers on the other hand are now in seventh place, after two straight defeats in the league, although they are one of just three sides to come out on top against Lee Bullen’s men this season, when they last met in September.
Kyle Connell and Sam Stanton gave Rovers a 2-0 half time lead, but they were reined in by Ayr midway through the second period, after goals from Brad Young and Andy Murdoch. However, with both teams pushing for a winner, it was Raith who got it, with a rocket from Scot Brown sealing a 3-2 win.
Rovers have had a poor record at Somerset Park down the years, but they have improved that in recent years, and have lost just once at the ground in their last four visits, with their last win coming in September last year, when goals from Ethon Varian and Dario Zanatta sealed a 2-0 win, in a match which featured three red cards.
Saturday’s match referee will be Kevin Clancy.
Ayr United wins: 54
Raith Rovers wins: 58