The Honest Men Stalemate
Rovers played for a second consecutive Friday – this time because the live BBC Broadcast was in town. The occasion also marked Jamie McDonald’s 500th league appearance. Well Done, Jamma!
With a win a piece this season most thought it would be a close game, and so it proved to be. Rovers made one change with William Akio starting in place of Esmaël Gonçalves, who dropped to the bench.
Rovers were first to threaten with Dylan Easton finding Sam Stanton in the box, but he could not get the ball out of his feet to make a better attempt on goal. Dipo Akinyemi then found space in the box for the visitors but his effort was over the bar – this would become the theme for the evening.
Rovers then had a penalty claim turned down: Brad Spencer’s deflected chip into the box seemed to come down on the out-stretched arm of Nick McAllister. If VAR had been involved it would almost certainly have been given.
Chances for the Rovers came and went through Easton: shooting just wide, then over the bar. However, the visitors were attacking too with Mark McKenzie and, Ayr’s Captain, Reece McAlear both making half-chances. No goals at half-time in what had been a reasonably entertaining game.
Half-time: Raith Rovers 0-0 Ayr United
Rovers started brightly and a nice move ended with Aidan Connolly curling a ball in from the right. Unfortunately for the home fans it evaded Akio and out for a goal kick.
Then came the most dramatic part of the action. McKenzie just beat Spencer to the ball in the box and went down. Ref Colin Steven immediately pointed to the spot – most fans looking on would probably have said it was a 50-50 decision.
Up stepped Ben Dempsey but cometh the hour, cometh the man, the Rovers’ 500 man, McDonald, who dived fully to his left and pushed the ball well away from goal. Great save.
Both teams continued to make half chances and also had the tendency to clear the bar with them. Rovers’ fans though were frustrated near the end when sub Gonçalves chose to shoot rather than slip in Scott McBride to his left, who was in a great position.
In the end, a draw was probably a fair result with neither side having their shooting boots on.
Full-time: Raith Rovers 0-0 Ayr United
by David Proudfoot
MacDonald, Dick, Millen, Nolan, Spencer, Connolly, Lang, Stanton, Akio, Brown, Easton. Subs: Thomson, McBride, Ngwenya, McGill, Young, Masson, Gonçalves
Albinson, Reading, McGinty, Kirk, McAllister, O’Connor, McAlear, Dempsey, Mullin, McKenzie, Akinyemi. Subs: McAdams, Jenkins, Ashford, Maguire, Musonda, Smith, Houston, Hewitt
PHOTOS © TONY FIMISTER & JIM FOY
Manager Ian Murray spoke after the draw at Stark’s Park:
Raith Rovers have another Friday night under the lights this weekend, when Ayr United are the visitors to Stark’s Park.
The Honest Men have been in mixed form in the league recently, with wins over Hamilton and Cove Rangers in their last six games, but that same sequence also features defeats to Queen’s Park, Dundee, and most recently, Partick Thistle, with the Jags winning 1-0 at Somerset Park on Saturday, leaving Lee Bullen’s men third in the table, five points behind leaders Queen’s Park, but with a game in hand.
Not only are Ayr within striking distance of the top of the table, they also have a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, after a win over Elgin saw them paired with League One Ayr United in the quarter-final draw.
Friday might also see the debut of their most recent signing, with former Scotland striker, Chris Maguire joining this week.
Rovers on the other hand are now 13 games unbeaten, after last Friday’s match at Ochilview against Queen’s Park ended in a 1-1 draw.
William Akio’s goal earned Rovers a share of the spoils, after his penalty had handily rebounded towards him after a stop from Callum Ferrie.
This will be the side’s third meeting with this term, with both sides currently on one win each.
Raith won the first meeting at Stark’s Park in September, after Kyle Connell and Sam Stanton fired Rovers into a two goal lead, but after Ayr responded through Brad Young and Andy Murdoch to level the score,
Scott Brown won the points for the home side with the winning goal in the 83rd minute.
It was a different story in December however, when two goals from Josh Mullin at Somerset Park saw Ayr run out comfortable winners.
Friday night’s match referee will be Colin Steven.
Raith Rovers wins: 58
Ayr United wins: 55