Raith Rovers will be on first-foot duty this Saturday, as they start 2015 with a visit to Central Park to take on Cowdenbeath, looking to build on last weekend's excellent 1-0 win over Falkirk.
That win, sealed by a Ryan Conroy goal in the 79th minute, kept Raith Rovers in seventh place in the table, and not not only that, it sustained Rovers good record against the teams around them in the league this season. In all, Raith have now lost just twice to teams outwith the top-four, with both defeats, against Livingston and Dumbarton, coming last month.
Grant Murray's team will be looking for their third consecutive victory over Cowdenbeath this season, and if they succeed, it will be the first time they've achieved the feat since the 2010/11 season, a campaign which saw Rovers go unbeaten against the Blue Brazil.
While Rovers result against Falkirk was to be admired last week, Cowdenbeath too have recorded a fine victory recently, and their 2-1 win over Queen of the South at Palmerston Park last month, lifted Jimmy Nicholl's team out of the relegation play-off spot. Since then, Cowdenbeath have lost two consecutive matches to Hearts and Dumbarton, but a win on Saturday, would see them move within four points of Raith, and ensure that Alloa and Livingston remain below them in the table.
Depending on results elsewhere, a win for Rovers could see them rise to sixth in the Championship table, and their recent record on the 3rd January is an impressive one, with three straight wins on the date since the year 2000, and no goals conceded.
Raith's recent wins in this fixture means that both sides recent head-to-head record is evenly balanced, with three wins apiece and four draws from the last ten league meetings.
Saturday's match referee will be Don Robertson.
Head-to-Head League Record at Central Park:
Cowdenbeath wins: 13 | Raith Rovers wins: 18 | Draws: 15
Cowdenbeath goals: 67 | Raith Rovers goals: 77
Current form:
Cowdenbeath:  W-L-L-W-L-L
Raith Rovers: L-W-L-L-L-W
Biggest home win: 25/08/1984 Division Two Cowdenbeath 5 Raith Rovers 1
Biggest away win:  02/10/1948 League Cup Group Stage Cowdenbeath 0 Raith Rovers 6
Top Goalscorers in All Competitions:
Cowdenbeath: Calum Gallagher, Sean Higgins and Lewis Milne, all 5
Raith Rovers: Ryan Conroy 6, Mark Stewart 4, Christian Nade 4
Match Odds:
Cowdenbeath: 17/10 | Raith Rovers: 19/10 | Draw: 13/5


Nade's Seals Fife Derby Victory

Raith Rovers got their year off to the perfect start, with an extremely late, but thoroughly merited, 1-0 win over Cowdenbeath at Central Park.

Grant Murray made just one change from the side that won 1-0 at Falkirk the previous week, with Barrie McKay dropping out, to be replaced by Grant Anderson.

Although the sun was shining overhead, the Central Park turf was looking heavy after sustained rain over the weekend, and while conditions were far from ideal, both sides were initially at least, looking to keep the ball down.

That certainly made sense from Raith's point of view, as the opening stages of the game saw the Cowden central defender Nathaniel Wedderburn winning every aerial challenge that he was asked to make.

Raith looked keen to use their flanks, and both Ryan Conroy and Anderson combined in the seventh minute, to provide the first half-chance.

Conroy's deep cross from the left was headed back by Anderson at the back-post, but Mark Stewart was crowded out before he could get his shot away.

The opening quarter of an hour was relatively even, with the home side looking to spread the ball wide to Jordan Halsman on the left-hand-side as much as possible, and he almost managed to get a shot away after a three-man-move, but his effort was well blocked by Jason Thomson.

Martin Scott then ambitiously tried his luck from 45-yards out, but while his shot was blocked on the edge of the area, the rebound fell kindly for Elliot, whose first-time shot from 25-yards, rose just over the bar.

Perhaps inspired by Scott's long-range attempt, Rory McKeown then forced Robbie Thomson into his first save of the match, with a 35-yard effort of his own. The shot seemed to be moving in the air, forcing the Blue Brazil goalkeeper to punch the ball over the bar.

While the away side had the momentum, and were dominating possession, they were finding it difficult to create too many clear goalscoring opportunities. Although they were winning their fair share of corners and free-kicks, the Cowdenbeath defence were remaining resolute, with Darren Brownlie and Wedderburn in particular, providing Raith with little change.

It was yet another set-piece which almost saw Raith take the lead on the half-hour mark. Conroy's free-kick was headed to the edge of the area, where Dougie Hill's first-time shot appeared to be heading in, only for it to whizz just wide.

Callachan was the next  to threaten, getting on the end of an Anderson cross, but his header was straight at Thomson.

It felt like a breakthrough was coming, and in the 41st minute Rovers did have the ball in the net after the best passing move of the game, but the effort was ruled out. Elliot backheeled the ball to Thomson, who had made excellent headway down the right-hand side. His through ball teed up Stewart, who slipped it under the advancing goalkeeper, only to be denied by the assistant referee's flag.

With half-time approaching, Anderson, who had given Cowdenbeath left-back Iain Campbell a torrid opening period, once again skipped past the defender, cutting inside, only to see his shot blocked by Wedderburn. Conroy's follow-up slithered just wide of the post.

The start of the second period, failed to live up to the flow of the first. It was scrappy, and far less fluent, with Rovers struggling to bring their wide midfielders into the action. As such, it began in an even manner, not necessarily because Cowdenbeath had improved, but more that Rovers were failing to find the tempo they had in the opening 45 minutes.

Conroy was presented with a good chance to open the scoring in the 55th minute, when he was picked out by Anderson on the edge of the box. However, he delayed his shooting opportunity a fraction too long, allowing his shot to be charged down.

Raith were still very much in the ascendency, but it was all crosses, corners and close calls, with nothing going Raith's way in front of goal.

Anderson sent a shot into the side netting after good work from Stewart, before Elliot had a shot blocked, after a long throw from McKeown.

With all the pressure that Raith were exerting, you started to sense that Cowdenbeath, may just fancy their chances of a sucker punch goal, and they almost had it, in the 62nd minute.

Jon Robertson found himself in time and space at the back-post, but his shot from an angle was too close to McGurn, who got both hands on it and pushed it wide.

There was an irony that after all the chances Raith had eked out, Thomson had to pull off his best save of the match, from his own teammate. An Anderson cross was swiped at wildly by Wedderburn, and was heading into the top corner, without the goalkeeper's excellent intervention.

Grant Murray made his first change with 15 minutes remaining, replacing Elliot with Christian Nade, who went up front to partner Mark Stewart, and the two combined immediately.

Stewart slipped the former Dundee man through, but his touch was heavy, allowing Thomson to gather at his feet. Nade then turned provider, flicking the ball on for his strike partner, who could only dink an effort over the bar.

Cowdenbeath made a substitute of their own, bringing on Sutherland for the final ten minutes, and he could have won the game for the Blue Brazil. After latching on to a through ball, his pace took him away from the Raith defence, but his touch took him away from goal, and his shot was straight at McGurn's chest.

That let-off was punished by Rovers with just two minutes left, with a well worked, and taken goal. The ball found Mark Stewart on the left-hand side, and his excellent back-post cross was met by Nade, whose downward header went beyond Thomson and into the net.

The win was Raith's second 1-0 victory in a row, and their third consecutive victory over Cowdenbeath this season. It's also the first time Raith have won the last league game of one year, and followed it up with a win in the first game of the new year, since the 2007/08 season, when their opponents were Alloa Athletic, and coincidentally, Cowdenbeath.

More importantly however, the win lifts Raith up to sixth in the table, and they can now look forward to a home match against Queen of the South next Saturday.





Live Updates

Happy New Year to supporters at home and abroad.
Welcome to Central Park, it's 4 degrees and sunny.
One change to last week's starting eleven, Anderson coming in for McKay who isn't listed today.
Cowdenbeath kick off towards the High Street end.
Rovers spurn a chance from the first corner of the game.
Good work by Conroy, his cross is cut back to Anderson and a final effort by Stewart is blocked by Marshall.
Halsman sees his shot blocked by the diving Thomson at the edge of the area.
Anderson and Stewart with a one two, the latter running out of steam in the box.
Rovers with two consecutive corners just lacking a finish.
Elliot coming close with a shot from 25 yards, the ball whizzing over the bar.
Higgins in free space scissor kicked the ball into the arms of McGurn from 12 yards.
Anderson fouled by Wedderburn stumbled on and won a corner.
Thomson punches out a cross which went to Scott, his shot however wasn't as accurate.
McKeown lets rip from the edge of the area forcing Thomson to palm the ball over the bar.
Hill yellow for a lunging tackle.
Thomson with a low cross, Elliot missed the shot and is cleared by Wedderburn.
O'Brien with a tame header, the ball easily collected by McGurn.
Dougie Hill from 25 yards hits a screamer just past the post.
Anderson the provider but Callachan could only head the ball to Thomson.
Elliot from 6 yards is blocked by Wedderburn.
From the corner Watson glanced the ball wide of the target.
Conroy puts a decent ball in from a free kick, Elliot could only head the ball onto the roof of the net.
Stewart has the ball in the net but it is chalked off for offside.
Rovers keeping the pressure on, this time Conroy coming close.
Another opportunity, this time Hill ruled offside.
Half time.
Sir Jimmy's half time talk is working, Cowdenbeath having a purple patch.
A rebound from what looked looked like hand ball, Conroy smashed the ball of Robertson and into the path of Callachan who fired just wide.
The fans rise to their feet but Anderson's shot is narrowly wide.
Miller clearing at the back post, Hill was on station to strike.
McGurn narrowed the angle and saved from Robertson at the near post.
Hill floored by Higgins, the latter goes unpunished.
Elliot heading over from a cross that was going away from him.
Keeper Thomson saved the blushes of a defender, tipping a near own goal round the post.
Frustration showing in the away support.
Callachan forcing Thomson to dive low to his right and deflect his shot.
Elliot off, Nade on.
Nade through is denied by Thomson.
Milne and Campbell off, Hughes and Sutherland on.
McGurn blocks a shot from Sutherland.
Callachan flights a cross into the area, Conroy heads just past the post.
Mark Stewart with the cross, Nade heads downwards an the ball goes in th net. GOAL ROVERS.
+3 full time.