Second half fight back sees Rovers take all three points on the road
Rovers travelled to Arbroath on the back of a nine game unbeaten run, and fielded the same side which drew with Inverness last week.
Unsurprisingly the wind was gusting at Gayfield and Rovers decided to play into it for the first half – and it was a struggle. The hosts bossed the early part of the game forcing five corners in the first ten minutes. Rovers had a slight reprieve when a counter-attack and subsequent goalmouth scramble saw Lewis Vaughan’s shot blocked from close range, before being cleared.
It wasn’t long though before the hosts took a deserved lead. Back-to-back corners in the 20th minute eventually resulted in a Michael McKenna corner evading everyone in the Rovers box to put Arbroath 1-0 up. Arbroath 1-0 Rovers.
It was clear the game plan was to get to half-time with as little damage done as possible, then hopefully use the advantage of the wind in the second half. Arbroath continued to control most of the play but failed to make any real chances.
Half-time: Arbroath 1-0 Raith Rovers
It took both sides a bit of time to adjust to shooting the opposite way and Rovers were first to make a chance, but Scott Brown’s shot ended up well over he bar. Rovers then made a double sub just before the hour mark: Jamie Gullan and Vaughan replaced by Sam Stanton and William Akio. This was followed up by another attacking sub with Connor McBride coming on for Ross Millen as Rovers went three at the back to try and put more pressure on the home defence – and it worked.
Dylan Easton started a move down the left hand side, and just as the ball looked to be going out for a throw, Stanton somehow managed to keep it in and whip over a cross. The headed clearance fell to Scott Brown, whose volley was beautifully placed in the bottom right corner past Derek Gaston in the home goal. Arbroath 1-1 Rovers.
Rovers, now with the momentum as well as the wind, started to take control of the game. To the delight of the away fans, Rovers managed to carve out a winning goal. Nice footwork again from Easton down the left saw him find enough space to cross, and Connor McBride timed his run perfectly to head into the bottom corner. Arbroath 1-2 Rovers.
The last 15mins proved to be very nervy for the travelling support – particularly considering the loss of recent late goals; however, this time the Rovers defence stood strong to see out the victory. A win which sees Rovers move up to 5th and now well in contention for a playoff spot.
Full Time: Arbroath 1-2 Raith Rovers
by David Proudfoot
Subs: Banks, Gold, Hilson, Linn, Kolomafe, El-Mhanni, Hetherington, Allan, Gill
Raith: MacDonald, Dick, Millen, Nolan, Spencer, Connolly, Gullan, Vaughan, Lang, Brown (c) Easton
Subs: McNeil, McBride, Ngwenya, Stanton, Aikio, McGill, Young, Masson
Ian Murray spoke to RaithTV after win against Arbroath FC:
After the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser to Inverness on Saturday, Raith Rovers will be hoping to get back to winning ways, when they travel to Gayfield to take on a rapidly improving Arbroath.
Dick Campbell’s men have won two and drawn one of their last four matches, and are now just a point from Cove Rangers who are eighth, and just nine behind Rovers who are a place further.
Part of that improvement is down to the comings and goings the club have undertaken in January, with several players moving on, and no fewer than seven joining the club.
Defender, Lewis Banks has signed from Sligo Rovers, while almost an entire midfield has been brought in, with Joao Balde joining permanently from Hibernian after impressing on loan at East Fife, Ryan Dow coming back down the road after a spell at Peterhead while Steven Hetherington has joined on loan from Falkirk. Yasin El Mhanni has also impressed, after initially being touted as a signing in October, a move which was delayed due to red tape.
That wasn’t the end of the new additions however, with forwards Sean Adarkwa signing after leaving Queen’s Park Rangers, and Toyosi Olusanya joining on loan from St Mirren.
This will be the clubs third meeting this season, with Rovers taking four of the six points available.
The first was back in October, with Sam Stanton scoring the only goal of the game just before half time.
The most recent meeting was at Stark’s Park in December, when Rovers were quick out the blocks, taking the lead in the 6th minute, thanks to an own goal from Ricky Little, only for Colin Hamilton to earn the Red Lichties a point, thanks to an equaliser on the stroke of half time.
Saturday’s referee will be Alan Newlands.
Arbroath wins: 34
Raith Rovers wins: 47