Hooper Finishes Cup Run

When the post match coverage centres on Forrest being “unplayable” and Hooper being tipped for England a final score of 4:1 doesn’t seem such a bad result.

The thousand plus Rovers fans who travelled west in increasingly wet weather probably managed to get to Celtic Park better than your correspondent.  I tried the old trick of following a Rovers bus but made the schoolboy error being ahead of it as it turned off the motorway!  However I arrived with my updater colleague and we were able to assist the media with details about the underdogs.  Some of the more geographically gifted Rovers support were already taking their places as the weather continued to deteriorate, home fans seemed less keen on show themselves.

The Rovers made one change from the Morton team with Grant Anderson coming in for David Smith.  Celtic made six and lined up with wingers Forrest and McGeough supporting Hooper and Watt up a front.  According to the post match coverage this is a more attacking Hoops line up than normal, Lennon clearly didn’t want the Rovers to claim another SPL scalp.  Prior to kick-off a round of applause was announced to welcome Ronnie Coyle’s family – Jim Clark having penned a great piece about the Rovers great for the program.

Malone gets the better of Matthews

Israeli cap Kayal had a go in the first minute from 24 yards but the ball ended up in the empty seats behind the goal as the Rovers fans sang about the poor home support!  The Old Firm side were passing the ball about but the Rovers were harrying and forcing mistakes.  In the 5th minute Brain Graham got onto a ball into the Celtic box but Zaluska did enough to remove any danger.  In the 11th minute the Rovers had their longest period of possession when a short pass was wayward at the halfway line.  Scotland international Forrest was onto it in a flash and he switched play to McGeough who headed for the by-line and crossed low.  Hooper had the relatively simple task of prodding the ball home from 5 yards out.  It showed the Rovers that a small error could easily be punished by the home side, 1:0.

McGeough and Hooper combined 2 minutes later but Dave McGurn pushed the shot away with a strong left hand.  As the home side pushed on McGurn saved a free kick and Rogne’s follow-up effort hit the post.  Stuart Anderson – who relished time and space in the middle of the park – passed to Graham forward and from a throw a good cross was delivered into the Celtic box.  Kayal had another shot then Brian Graham was flagged for offside as Allan Walker overlapped into space.    McGurn punched a teasing Mulgrew free kick away then Grant Anderson nipped down the wing but his cross was poor.  Watt shot over then some good play saw the Rovers pushing around the Celtic box.

Allan Walker scores for Raith
Allan Walker scores for Raith

Brian Graham played a one two with Walker whose driven shot from 20 yards hit Rogne and spun slowly across goal and in at the side netting.   1:1 and the Rovers fans erupted.  I was happier than when I’d spotted car with a Rovers sticker as we tried to find our way to the ground.  Allan however was clearly the happiest man in the ground; he slid towards the main stand on his knees arms aloft – something I think he’d dreamt of doing as a boy.  The press area is halfway up the stand but we could hear his shout of celebration after the Rovers players had congratulated him.

In the 32nd minute Kayal should have hit the target when his run was unmarked at a corner.  Grant Anderson got forward again and the Rovers won a corner.  The ball was played in a second time and Zaluska fluffed his attempt to claim it.  The ball went goalward and Spence was just beaten to it as the referee stopped play saving the keepers blushes.

Forrest used his pace well on the far side after getting the ball from the very impressive Ambrose.  His cross was knocked home in the six yard box by Hooper.  From our position he looked off-side but he’s rather quicker than First Division strikers and wasn’t, 2:1.  The Rovers had the next chance when wide man Anderson took his namesake’s pass and teased a defender before his deep cross eluded the sliding Graham.  The speedy winger was booked just before the half for pulling back the on form Hooper then McGurn easily coped with McGeough’s shot.

Half time discussion centred on the key difference between the sides being speed of movement.  Hamill was caught in possession early by Ambrose who ran on and shot wide.  The Rovers won a free kick and maintained pressure culminating in Walkers cross finding Graham seven yards out but he only got a slight contact with his head.  It was a great chance.

Watt forced a save low at the front post and then Mensing did well to snuff out a couple of attacks.  In the 58th minute Hooper was at it again.  Build up from Matthews and Forrest saw him make a good run onto a good ball and topped it off with a great shot low across goal inside the far post.  Only 2 minutes later McGurn blocked Kayal’s shot but it squirmed away from him and the following up Hooper beat a defender to the ball putting it away from a yard.

Grant Anderson tackles Hooper

At 4:1 Celtic had the game won but they continued to probe and Graham had an angled shot over before McGeough’s curler hit the post and zipped across goal and away.  McGurn pushed Welsh international Matthews’ driven shot over and subs came and went.  Smith, Callachan and later Ellis seeing play for the Rovers replacing Spence, Grant Anderson and Malone who’d had treatment.  The home side removed Kayal, Watt and Forrest with Ledley, McCourt and Commons joining the fray.  The last action saw McGeough’s tame shot from 18 yards calmly saved by McGurn.

The Rovers should take a lot out of the performance against the team who will win the Championship.  They were up against the best side they’ve faced for some years and were able to show through play and hard work that they are a good side.  Mention must be made of Spence who worked hard and Stuart Anderson who continues to deliver good pass after good pass.  Special mention must be made of Captain Allan Walker who should be pleased with his play, leadership and goal if unhappy with the final result.

The crowd of 14,787 even bolstered by the 1,000+ loud Rovers fans was disappointing but the cash generated for the Rovers will be welcome all the same.

Report - John Mainland, Pictures - Eddie Doig


Photographs copyright Eddie doig.



Rovers manager Grant Murray spoke to Davie Hancock after the match

Celtic manager Neil Lennon joined Raith TV to give his thoughts on the cup tie

Raith keeper and Celtic fan David McGurn spoke to Davie after a special night for him

Live Updates

Hello from Celtic Park. Team news sees Grant Anderson in for David Smith from the team that started at Cappielow. Celtic make 6 changes from the team that beat Dundee at the weekend.
Celtic kick off.
Kayal shoots well over from a Forrest cross.
Long ball to Graham who goes down as the keeper comes out. Nothing given.
Celtic break forward, McGeough feeds Hooper who slots it home.
Great McGurn save from a McGeough shot.
Rogne hits the post. Raith under pressure.
Kayal shoots over after more Celtic pressure after a corner.
Brian Graham flagged offside from a good through ball.
Celtic FK from the left, McGurn punches out Mulgrew's cross.
Watt shoots over.
Goal Raith! Allan Walker shot is deflected and loops over the keeper!
Watt runs into the box and his cross goes for a corner.
Corner comes across, Kayal is in acres of space but somehow it goes wide.
Raith corner after good G Anderson wing play. Ball comes back across, Graham wins it but foul on the keeper stops play.
Goal Celtic. Great cross from Forrest and Hooper sticks it away.
Graham is agonisingly close to G Anderson's fizzed ball into the box.
G Anderson booked.
Celtic free for a foul on Forrest, Raith clear from the FK.
McGeough skims one just past the post.
2-1 Celtic at half time. The Raith equaliser was against the run of play and it could have been more for the home team.
Ambrose shoots wide after Hamill loses the ball.
Walker cross but Graham can't get enough on the header to send it goalwards.
Hooper is found in the box but McGurn saves.
Goal Celtic. Hooper shoots it across McGurn and into the corner of the net.
Goal Celtic. Hooper again from close range taps it in.
Ledley for Kayal for Celtic.
Nice G Anderson run + cross. Subs Smith and Callachan for G Anderson and Spence.
Ball falls to Brian Graham who shoots it high over the bar.
Celtic sub - McCourt for Watt.
McGeough curls a shot onto the post.
Back and forth play here, Celtic look sharper at the edge of the box.
McGurn saves from Matthews.
Commons on for Forrest.
Laurie Ellis on for Malone.
McGeough shoots straight at McGurn.
Full time 4-1 Celtic.
A clinical performance in front of goal from Hooper but the away support sang their hearts out for the whole game. S Anderson played well against a side the quality of which we won't face again this season.