Raith's Poor Recreation Run Goes On

Raith Rovers went down 1-0 against Alloa Athletic on a bitterly cold afternoon at Recreation Park thanks to a somewhat controversial goal scored by former Dunfermline frontman Andy Kirk. Winter woollies were very much the order of the day on an overcast afternoon in Clackmannanshire.

Rovers were looking for their first win at ‘the Recs’ since 2007, while in the home dugout, former Rovers cult hero, Paul Hartley celebrated his 100th game in charge of Alloa. Although, if the media speculation of the past week is anything to go by, Hartley may not be in the Alloa dugout for much longer – with his name being mentioned in the same sentence as the vacant job at Inverness.

Mine - Hill wins header
Mine! - Hill wins header

Rovers made two changes to the 11 that started last week’s 2-0 defeat to Dundee at Dens Park, with Kevin McCann and Dougie Hill returning to the starting team. Laurie Ellis and Callum Booth, the latter suspended after his contentious red card last Saturday, were the unlucky two to make way.

The game got off to a bright start, with Rovers making most of the early running. In the first minute, a solid interchange of passing between Grant Anderson and Joe Cardle down the left wing eventually led to no end product – a theme which would scar the game for the majority of the 90 minutes.

The home side created their first chance of the afternoon in the second minute, Jonathan Tiffoney scampered down the line and picked a pass to Ryan McCord – only for the former Dundee United youngster to send his short high and wide over Ross Laidlaw’s bar.

The visitors started strongly in the first 15 minutes, creating most of the play but with the odd chance coming here and there from Paul Hartley’s men. Alloa’s grit, determination and doggedness showed why there are ripping up the pre-season prediction of the doubters who have them as relegation cannon fodder this campaign.

Alloa started to come into the game in around 17 minutes, but, in truth, it was a poor first half – one that never really got going, so much so that on 33 minutes came perhaps the most exciting moment of the afternoon’s proceedings to that point – with the jingle of an ice cream van being heard from Clackmannan Road outside the ground. Rovers were hoping it would be the home side’s back four that would melt under the momentum created prior to last week’s defeat at Dens.

The greatest relief to a reasonable crowd gathered inside Recreation Park was the sound of referee

Shot comes in
Shot comes in

Craig Thomson’s half-time whistle, signalling the end of what had been an otherwise uneventful first half – with chances few and far between, leading to one prominent Rovers fan in the away stand proclaiming that the game would either be a 4-4 classic or a rubbish 0-0 draw. Sadly, said Rovers fan would be wrong on both counts come full-time.

The first flashpoint of the second half, and in many senses the game, came 28 seconds after the restart when Alloa’s left back, Daryll Meggatt stuck an elbow into the face of Grant Anderson. Though there was no card on this occasion, there would be a different outcome a couple of minutes later.

The home side created the first chance of the second half three minutes in, with another former Dundee United trainee, Graeme Holmes cutting in off the left wing before firing an aimless cross comfortably over the bar.

Anderson and Meggatt then came together again, with the Rovers’ winger getting nailed in front of an understandably irate Rovers support. This time Meggatt was shown a yellow card and from the resulting free kick, Joe Cardle whipped a dangerous-looking ball into the box, with the home defence clearing the ball after a short bout of penalty box ping-pong at the railway end.

The now-familiar Rovers substitution took place on the hour, with Greig Spence replacing the workmanlike Gordon Smith. Spencey probably felt as if he was back in familiar surroundings having started his football career with Alloa as a 16-year-old.

The breakthrough came in 63 minutes, several Alloa players broke away from a Rovers set piece – the ball falling to Andy Kirk, who calmly slotted the ball away from Ross Laidlaw in the visitors’ goal and into the back of the net. This time Kirk made no mistake – unlike the last meeting between the sides when he somehow managed to miss an open goal standing virtually on the goal-line.

The visiting Rovers support were incensed at the decision to allow the goal to stand, with some suggestions that Kirk was comfortably offside when he scored. Refereeing decisions not going the way of The Rovers seems to be becoming an unwanted theme at the moment, but be that as it may, the goal stood and Alloa led 1-0.

For large spells after the goal, Rovers continued to give possession away cheaply – a trait that would haunt them all afternoon, but to their credit, Rovers never gave up in their ultimately fruitless search for that elusive equaliser.

Jason Thomson created a couple of half chances late on, before Kevin Moon tried his luck with a dipping shot from around 30 yards out. The fact that the subsequent corner was wasted summed up both the Rovers’ afternoon and the game in general.

Shot on the angle
Shot on the angle

The game always had the feel that a single goal would separate the two teams in a largely uninspiring afternoon. On this occasion, it was Alloa who got it – whether it was deserved and/or legitimate though is another matter. Rovers never really got going, and didn’t produce anything like the form which has seen manager Grant Murray win back-to-back SPFL Championship Manager of the Month awards.

At least there’s always next week when Queen of the South are the visitors to Stark’s Park. Rovers could do with getting back to winning ways next weekend before the league takes a back seat for a week due to the Scottish Cup tie against our old friends from across the Tay Bridge at Dens.

Report by Martin Hart, Pictures Eddie Doig


Copyright Eddie Doig


Live Updates

Welcome to an overcast Recreation Park. The floodlights are on from the start today.
McCann slots into left back.
McCord shoots over at the edge of the D
Elliott dances past three defenders, Bain dives to save a low shot.
Elliot straight through on goal, his shot came off the keepers foot for a corner.
Watson heads the corner wide.
Cardle and Fox combine in the box the latter runs into two defenders and Alloa clear their lines.
McCann is dispossessed on a run, Hill is forced to clear.
McCord provides a perfect corner to the head of Meggatt who heads just past the left post.
Another corner, this time Rovers clear the ball.
Kirk thought it was his birthday as he sped onto a loose ball, the flag was raised for offside which halted his joy.
Watson from two yards sees his shot blocked by Bain and out for a corner.
Rovers players find getting into the box easy, finding goal not so.
Watson bundled into the advertising boards by Holmes whilst shepherding the ball over the line.
The game is bogged down in the middle of the park.
Elliot and Thomson play a one-two, Bain dives to save Jason's shot.
Moon flattens himself by kicking the ball in his own face, great skills indeed.
Elliot free outside the box, misses the ball due to a bad bounce.
Thomson makes a hash of a throw in, recovered the ball and tried a shot but is floored in the process.
Cawley who has been nippy a the half shoots just wide from twenty yards out.
Alloa break away four on four, but Laidlaw calms things down by stealing the ball from the head of Cawley.
JoJo tries a shot inside the six yard box, Bain dives low to his right to recover the ball.
Half time.
Kirk with the first shot on goal this half, skies the ball over from close range.
Elliot back heels the ball to Smith and is denied a shot on goal by Doyle.
Bain runs out to clear from the in rushing Elliot, the ball finds the head of Anderson who heads wide from thirty yards out.
Smith hurts his back in a challenge but quickly gets onto his feet.
Simmons send a header wide of goal from six yards out.
A great free kick by Cardle met the head of Hill, the shot forces a diving save from Bain.
Smith off, Spence on.
Gordon yellow for felling Elliot.
Kirk from six yards, slots past a diving Laidlaw, Goal Alloa.
Elliot and Cardle have successive shots turned wide for corners.
Elliot bundled in the box, no penalty says the ref.
Fox yellow for fouling Cawley.
Spence is denied a header on goal with a high footed challenge by Meggatt.
Anderson off, Vaughan on.
Simmons and Elliot having a wee spat.
Tiffoney off, Ferns on.
Hill and McCann guilty of giving the ball away, Watson mopping up for them.
Vaughan leaps higher than the rest only to see his header saved by Bain.
Ferns yellow for kicking the ball away.
Bain to the rescue, this time from an in swinging corner by Cardle.
Cardle off, Callachan on. Kirk off, McManus on.
Bain proving a safe pair of hands today with another save.
Anderson heads just over from Watson's cross.
McCann shoots from thirty yards, the ball is deflected for a corner.
+1 full time.