Holders Bow Out After Derby Defeat

Raith Rovers defence of the newly named Petrofac Training Cup was disappointingly brief, as they went out in the First Round to an impressive looking Dunfermline Athletic side 1-0 at East End Park.

Calum Elliot's suspension mean that he was forced to sit out the tie, and he was replaced up-front by Lewis Vaughan, in what was manager Grant Murray's only change from Saturday's 4-2 win over Forfar Athletic.

Whilst the opening stages of the match were reasonably fast-paced, there were few clear-cut openings created within it. Dunfermline, with five men in their midfield were keen to keep the ball down and get it out wide, but despite this, it was Raith who fashioned the first half-chance after five minutes. Christian Nade's flick on found Mark Stewart with a sliver of space in the box, but his chance was well closed down by Josh Falkingham.

The opening quarter-of-an-hour saw Raith on the front-foot, and they should have been a goal up, when Ryan Conroy played Nade through on goal, but after delaying his shot, goalkeeper Ryan Scully did well to block the chance with his feet.

Raith were almost made to pay for that miss a moment later, when Dunfermline squandered their first good opportunity. Shaun Byrne teed up Faissal El Bkataoui, who exposed a lax Raith backline, but as he ran in from Rovers left-hand-side, he made a hash of his shot, and crashed it into the side netting.

Byrne's next involvement was less impressive, as he was cautioned by referee Alan Muir for simulation, much to the Pars midfielder's consternation.

Although the opening half-hour had been reasonably tight, the momentum seemed to be swinging in the home side's favour. Dunfermline looked neater in possession, exploiting their extra man in midfield, and testing Raith out wide. For Rovers, the chances from open play had started to dry up, and while Vaughan and Nade were struggling to gel, they were getting little in way of support, or service.

As a result, it was no surprise when Dunfermline created the next good chance, when Ross Millen's whipped cross just evaded Michael Moffat, Andy Geggan and El Bakhtaoui who were all waiting to knock it home.

Rovers then wasted a good chance when Watson knocked a Conroy corner over the bar, before Vaughan shot wide after taking up a good position in the box. To the home fans annoyance, the referee signalled for a corner, and from it, Vaughan again had an attempt, but he was crowded out.

Dunfermline were causing problems with their own set-pieces, with a novel new corner-kick routine. Four Dunfermline players linked arms and formed a circle on the edge of the box, before indulging in what appeared to be a ring-of-roses type move, before dispersing in the box as the kick was taken. It almost worked, as Gregor Buchanan got on the end of the cross, flicking the ball over the bar.

Raith were starting to hang on as half-time approached, and Cuthbert did well to repel Moffat's deflected shot, before Geggan blasted the rebound well over. Millen then went close, as his shot from outside the area flew past Cuthbert's right-hand-post, as Rovers failed to deal with a throw-in.

The second-half began with Mark Stewart swapping places with Lewis Vaughan, in an attempt to provide the Frenchman with closer support. However, Nade almost opened the scoring all on his own, in the opening seconds of the second-period. Receiving the ball from Liam Fox, forty yards from goal, he accelerated towards Ryan Scully, leaving defenders in his wake. Shaping to shoot from ten yards, he sidestepped another tackle, before being denied by a fine top from Scully, who took just enough off the shot, allowing Millen to sprint in to clear.

Up the other end, Cuthbert had to scramble down to his right to keep out a low twenty-five yard drive from Byrne, and the Raith keeper had to be alert again, after fifty-five minutes. Moffat and El Bakhtaoui combined effectively inside the area, allowing the latter to make space for himself and shoot from close range, but Cuthbert smothered the shot well.

Although the game was tantalisingly poised, Raith were restricted to playing on the break, and were failing to make the most of their time in possession. While Nade was proving to be a real handful with the ball at his feet, it was too often being played to his head, a ploy which was failing to utilise his technical ability. Any time he was flicking the ball on, no Raith player was in close enough proximity to feed off the scraps.

To compound matters, Raith's passing had started to become more ragged, and from a misplaced pass, Moffat was afforded time to control a pass, flick it up, and send a volley over Cuthbert's crossbar.

Raith made a change with thirteen minutes remaining, replacing Liam Fox with Ross Callachan, but within five minutes, Raith found themselves a goal down.

Josh Falkingham's shot from the right-hand-side was parried away by the Raith keeper, but he could do nothing about  Millen's excellent dipping shot from twenty-two yards, which flew over his outstretched hand and under the bar from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Despite huffing-and-puffing, Rovers didn't look like getting themselves level in the final ten minutes, although a Conroy corner was narrowly flashed wide by Jason Thomson.

The final whistle brought an end to Raith's involvement in a competition which provided them with so much enjoyment last season, but it was a merited victory for Jim Jefferies men.

With the Championship campaign kicking off on Saturday, Grant Murray will be looking for an improved performance, as Raith welcome Dumbarton to Stark's Park.


Copyright Eddie Doig


Live Updates

Not a bad crowd for a Tuesday night - must be around 3000
Free kick to Rovers for a foul on Stewart who was covering back in defence
Watson busy with two meaty but fair challenges in the opening minutes - letting the Dunfermline players know he's there
Stewart denied for a corner
El Bakhtoui with space on the penalty spot, but he can only nod it wide and high
Falkingham blocks a Thomson cross for a corner, it eventually goes out for a throw on the other side
Long McKeown throw almost falls to Vaughan, but he's well closed down
Nade through on goal but Scully is out quickly to gather at his feet
El Bakhtoui reacts quicker to a long ball than McKeown but fires into the side netting. A let off.
Nade fouled 25 yards out, Conroy fires the free kick well over
Ball pinging about in midfield, eventually a free kick for Raith after Vaughan held back
Good play from Rovers in midfield - left to right, then to the left again. Nade finally miscues his volley, Scott almost gets on the end but Scully gathers.
Byrne booked for a dive, but it looked like a clear foul by Perry
McKeown and Conroy linking up in attack for the first time. Well defended but encouraging nonetheless.
Dunfermline cross left by both Kevin and Perry. If that'd gone in it would have been soooo unfair!
Watson fires over from a Stewart corner
Scott booked for a high challenge
Vaughan requiring treatment after blocking a cross at close range - I think he's winded
Geggan gets on the end of a long throw, but his header is weak and straight at Cuthbert
At the other end Vaughan shoots wide and a corner is somehow given - Pars fans unhappy
Ball goes back to him from the corner and his driven shot is blocked away
The match is heating up, end to end stuff. Buchanan hooks it over after a corner.
Thomson turned by Moffat but recovers well to concede a corner, which Cuthbert punches clear
Close again from Dunfermline - Cuthbert parries straight to Geggan who can't keep his volley down
And again... Millen drives wide. Rovers under the cosh at the moment.
Rovers slightly fortunate to be level at the break. Nade isolated up front. Dunfermline much quicker than us on the break.
Much brighter start to the second half. Stewart up front with Nade, who almost waltzes round the whole defence straight from the kick off.
Apologies for the break in updates - 3G issues here in the east stand
Cuthbert saves at the feet of El Bakhtoui, then straight down the other end for Stewart to be crowded out.
Pars defence make a Nade sandwich but the ref's having none of it
Great running from Stewart, good feet from Nade, and unlucky not to find McKeown bombing forward
Thomson down in the box getting treatment...
He's back on his feet as play resumes
Perry booked for a cynical foul on Falkingham on the edge of the box as Dunfermline broke quickly
Nade ushers the ball out for a goal kick in the style of Big Marv!
Careless play in midfield twice in a minute from Rovers. Working really hard but could be undone in a second.
Sub for Raith: Callachan for Fox
Falkingham crumples under a Callachan challenge for a high ball
... and he's back on
Goal Dunfermline. Fantastic finish by Millen after a clearance fell to him on the corner of the Raith box
Thomson rises well but can only glance Conroy's corner wide
Dunfermline sub: Thomson for Byrne
Dunfermline sub: Ugwu for El Bakhtoui
Desperate play from Rovers - Cuthbert launches it into the box from halfway, but no-one can get on the end
Full time and a deserved win for the Pars. Rovers short of ideas, and outplayed for most of the game.