After the disappointment of a last gasp defeat to Partick Thistle last weekend, Raith Rovers will be looking to bounce back on Boxing Day with a win at Somerset Park against Ayr United.

The Honest Men relieved Jim Duffy of managerial duties after their 3-0 loss to Queen of the South on Saturday, a result which made it nine league games without a win, and left them eighth in the table, two points ahead of bottom side Morton, and one ahead of ninth place Dunfermline.

David White will take interim charge for the match, which marks the beginning of the second half of the campaign.

It was a much weakened Rovers side which went down to their first defeat in 16 matches against Partick Thistle, and John McGlynn will be hoping to have a number of players back for this one.

The result left them one point behind both Arbroath and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and two ahead of Partick Thistle, as the battle at the top of the table intensifies.

Rovers have a 100% record against Ayr United this term, winning 2-0 at this venue back in September, with goals coming from Ethon Varian and Dario Zanatta.

It was a much tighter affair at Stark's Park in October however, despite Rovers running into a two goal half time lead, thanks to goals from Zanatta and Ethan Ross. However, a much improved showing from United in the second period, saw the lead halved through Jack Baird, although Rovers held out to take three points.

Rovers have the upper hand in the most recent meetings, with four wins and four draws from the last 10 fixtures.

Sunday's match referee will be David Dickinson.

Head-To-Head Away League Record:

Ayr United Wins: 34 | Raith Rovers Wins: 17 | Draws: 24

Ayr United Goals: 96 | Raith Rovers Goals: 75

Current Form:

Ayr United: L-L-W-D-D-L

Raith Rovers: W-W-D-D-W-L

Top Scorers:

Ayr United: Tomi Adeloye 9 | Steven Bradley 2

Raith Rovers: Dario Zanatta 9 | Aidan Connolly 5 | Ethan Ross 5

Match Odds:

Ayr United: 2/1 | Raith Rovers: 6/5 | Draw: 21/10


Rovers Draw Blank At Somerset

Raith Rovers title chances took a jolt at Somerset Park this afternoon, after a dominant Ayr United defeated them 2-0. 

Trailing at the interval thanks to a goal from Tomi Adoloye, Rovers failed to seriously threaten to get back into it in the second period, and Mark McKenzie made the points safe with 15 minutes remaining. 

John McGlynn made two changes from the side which went down to a late, late defeat at Firhill at the weekend. 

Christophe Berra missed out through suspension after Rovers failed with his appeal in midweek, meaning Tom Lang came back into the side to partner Kyle Benedictus at the heart of the defence. 

Further forward, Ethan Varian returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Aaron Arnott who dropped to the bench, while Blaise Riley-Snow and Matej Poplatnik were also brought back into the squad after missing out at Maryhill. 

Ayr appeared to have a little more of a spring in their step than in recent weeks, and were getting forward well in the opening moments, and although they were happy to take shots on from distance, none of their three efforts in the first five minutes were troubling Jamie MacDonald in the Raith goal. 

Both teams were struggling to string together too many passes in the game’s opening quarter of an hour, with the bulk of Raith’s half chances coming from set-pieces, while Ayr had threatened once or twice on the break. 

Rovers did eke out a chance in the 16th minute, when good play down the left from Zanatta led to Varian getting a sight at goal, but his shot from 10 yards was well blocked by Jack Baird. 

Rovers had been slack in possession in the game, and that cost them in the 21st minute, when Ayr took the lead. 

Tumilty’s pass to Lang was wide of the mark and let in Adoloye, who was able to run free in on goal, and despite taking the shot early, he was able to force it past MacDonald and into the corner to gift the home side the lead. 

Ayr continued to look the likelier to score again, and James Maxwell almost made it two in the 31st minute, when his volley from the edge of the area was blocked, and although the ball broke back to him, he pulled his follow up attempt wide of the target. 

Rovers continued to make life difficult for themselves, with Dylan Tait giving the ball away on the edge of the area, although Adoloye was unable to take advantage of it, only for Tumilty to then give the ball away on the right hand side, allowing Pat Reading to pick up possession and crash a brilliant effort off the bar as Rovers continued to toil. 

Ayr came close again in the 42nd minute, when a fine run down the right from Mark McKenzie ended with him delivering a cross into the area for an unmarked Sreven Bardley, who should have doen better than nod the ball wide of target. 

It was the final piece of action in a half in which Raith had struggled at both ends of the park, as the Honest Men held the upper hand for the overwhelming majority of it. 

The visitors were enjoying a little more possession at the start of the second period, although just like in the first 45, Ayr were doing a great job of closing them down and giving them as little time as possible on the ball. 

It was a tentatively encouraging opening however, as Rovers enjoyed their most productive period of the match, with a couple of crosses into the Ayr box causing a degree of anxiety, although both were dealt with effectively. 

It was a short lived improvement though, as Ayr started to take command once more, and Bradley perhaps should have done more when the ball broke to him at the back post following a corner in the 59th minute, but he could only rattle the ball into the side netting, albeit with a crowd of players in front of him. 

However, Rovers missed a huge chance in the 62nd minute, when a free-kick from Aidan Connolly looked ideal for Varian, but despite catching it well first time, he pulled the chance wide from inside the area. 

They almost had an even bigger reason to rue that miss five minutes later, when the home side missed a huge chance of their own. 

Again, Rovers played themselves into trouble in the middle of the park, which allowed Andy Murdoch to get down the right, but despite his square pass looking ideal for Adoloye, he somehow skied his chase from close range over the bar. 

Rovers had barely created anything of note from open play in the first 70 minutes, but they came close in the 71st, when patient build up play by Tait on the end of the area eventually ended up with the ball falling to Ross Matthews, but from 25 yards, his drilled shot went wide. 

However, Ayr got the goal their dominance deserved in the 75th minute, when Murdoch managed to turn away from two Raith players in the middle of the park before playing the ball out wide to McKenzie, who drilled an effort past MacDonald from an angle.

Even with 15 minutes remaining, you sensed that was almost certainly that. 

Raith then made a change, with Poplatnik replacing Dario Zanatta, but Ayr should have made it three almost immediately, after Matthews brought down Adoloye inside the area, but the forward got up and took the kick himself, and MacDonald read his effort perfectly, diving to his right and tipping it wide. 

Rovers had struggled to contain the 10-goal forward all day, and he almost increased the lead in the 84th minute, after winning a foot race down the right which saw him with just the ‘keeper to beat, but his calm finish was slipped wide of both MacDonald and the post. 

The defeat means Raith remain in third place in the table, but teams are starting to bunch up behind them, with Killie just a point behind, while fifth placed Partick Thistle are just two behind with a game in hand. 

With Dunfermline next up on January second, Rovers will be hoping to improve their fortunes in the final third, with just one goal scored in their last five outings. 


With Thanks to Martin Greig for action photos from Somerset Park:



John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the defeat to Ayr United:

Live Updates

Welcome to this afternoon's Boxing day fixture, Ayr United v Raith. Sadly no away fans today. Two changes to Raith as Lang and Varian return to the line-up. The bench is much more healthy compared to last week too
Teams make their way on to the pitch
Raith get the game underway
Varian gets at the ball half way line, passes to Ross who tried to switch play to Tumilty but ball intercepted
Free kick just on the half way line after a foul on Varian
Lang with a hopeful long ball to Ross but it's too much and doesn't trouble Ayr as they clear
Maxwell tries to bully his way through but Lang is there to challenge
Ross tries his best to keep pressing forward
Dick with the long ball to Varian but the latter is fouled, free kick Raith
Connolly whips the ball to the Ayr back post, Varian is there but can't connect
Ayr push forward but their final play is poor and MacDonald collects
Foul on Zanatta after Houston body checks him off the for the Ayr player
Tumilty clears the ball up field...Varian steams on but McAdam for Ayr comes out the box to clear and ball goes out for a Raith throw in
Great play by Raith as they link well on both side of the pitch to get the ball up into the Ayr box.
Free kick Raith in the Ayr half after a foul on Varian
Ayr score ... a bad pass back from Tumilty to Lang. Adeloye scores
Benedictus does enough to put Ayr off as the push forward. Lang is also there to make sure the ball is cleared
Ross tries to get the ball to Connolly but Ayr clear
Liam Dick clears in the Raith box as Ayr come forward again
Ross picks up the ball and charges forward but in the final area he falls and Ayr clear
Benedictus with a timely tackle as Ayr get past Tait.
Play halted as Adeloye or Ayr receives treatment
Game back underway, Ayr freekick
Freekick is low and ball takes a deflection as it goes through, corner Ayr
Tumilty and Ross not communicating well there as Ross passes to to Tumilty. The former goes to run on but Tumilty passes back instead of forward and Ayr pick up the loose ball
Connolly with a good ball in to the box but Ayr head clear
Ball played up over the top to Ross but he can't quite get control of it
Ayr close as Tumilty's poor pass doesn't get to Connolly and Reading gets the ball and fires a shot in that bounces off the back post
Liam Dick with a challenge as Ayr push forward down that line
Connolly tries to get the ball through the middle but is fairly challenged
Bradley's header is thankfully wide
Good play by Raith as they push forward, play ends as Tumilty gets the ball into the box but Ayr head clear
Raith free kick
Connolly from the free kick gets the ball to the back post to Benedictus who heads the ball into the mix
+1 ref blows for half time...Ayr 1 ( Adeloye '21) Raith 0
Ayr United kick off the second half!
Bit of pinball in the Rovers box, but Ayr can't turn it into a chance.
Good defending turns a Rovers chance into a Rovers corner.
Zanatta with a great tackle in the Rovers box.
Connolly run sees his cross blocked for a Rovers corner.
Ayr fans screaming for a free kick on edge on box. Ref is not interested.
Bit of Ayr pressure. Ends up with a corner.
Bradley hits the side netting with his shot. Some thought it was in.
Ayr United 1-0 Raith Rovers.
Zanatta clattered by the touch line. Free kick 30 yards out.
Varian's volley whistles just past the post from Connolly's free kick.
Varian fouled by the corner flag.
Benedictus header loops over the bar.
Rovers with lots more pressure this half.
Oooooh… what a chance for Ayr. Sclaffed over the bar. Phew!
Ayr chance back heeled off the line.
Chalmers booked for tripping Connolly as he was about to go on a mission.
Tumilty clears on the line. Ref had blown for offside.
Matthews from 20 yards… just past the post.
Goal Ayr!
McKenzie sent down the right from an excellent pass. He scored from a tight angle.
Ayr United 2-0 Raith Rovers.
Poplatnik on for Zanatta
Penalty Ayr!
Adeloye… saved by MacDonald.
Dick with the defensive header. Needed to connect with that.
Moffat replaces Bradley.
Adeloye with a strong run down the left. He sees his low shot trundle past MacDonald and the post.
Afolabi replaces Adeloye
Afolabi turns in the box. Shot deflected out for an Ayr corner.
McKenzie replaced by Ecrepont
Afolabi just past the post. (His shot, not the player)
Full time: Ayr United 2-0 Raith Rovers