Reports

Rovers into Round 2 of the Fife Cup

The new-look Rovers team – adorned by their 2023-24 tartan sleeved home kit – travelled along the road to Kelty, for the 1st Round of the Fife Cup.

The sunny but windy afternoon at New Central Park provided an opportunity for many fans to see the new signings up close for the first time. Recent recruits Kevin Dabrowski (named as a trialist) started in goal, Keith Watson took the armband in central defence, whilst Callum Smith and Josh Mullin made up the wide component of the four in midfield.

It was the hosts that came out of the traps quicker with Dabrowski looking smart to block a shot in the first couple of minutes. This was followed up by a lovely Kelty Hearts free kick which he tipped on to the post and saw the ball rebound along the line and out. The Rovers’ reprieve turned to reward a minute later: a driving run off the right from Jamie Gullan saw him brought down in the box, and the penalty was given. Lewis Vaughan stepped up and stroked the ball into the right corner. Kelty Hearts 0-1 Raith Rovers.

Rovers continued to look threatening in the final third but the hosts were not ready to lie down. Ross Cunningham twisted and turned Ross Millen before a carefully placed shot outwith the reach of Dabrowski’s left hand found the net. Kelty Hearts 1-1 Raith Rovers.

Then, two minutes later, the same player broke Rovers’ defensive line, rounded the goalkeeper and found the net with his left-footed finish, despite a last ditch attempt from Watson to get back on the line. Goal for Cunningham, and the lead in the cup-tie for Kelty. Kelty Hearts 2-1 Raith Rovers.

 

Half-time: Kelty Hearts 2-1 Raith Rovers

 

Watson seemed to injure his knee in the chase back for the 2nd Kelty Hearts goal and Rovers’ fans were not surprised to see him remain in the changing room at half time, being replaced by another new face, Dylan Corr.

Rovers looked the far more likely to score in the second half: retaining the ball well and playing most the half on the front foot. Good chances came for Gullan, Smith and Sam Stanton before Rovers did find the equaliser around the hour mark. Mullin neatly slipped in Gullan and he took a couple of touches before blasting low into the bottom corner. Kelty Hearts 2-2 Raith Rovers.

Rovers did their best to win the game but found Kelty Hearts keeper, Kyle Gourlay, in fine form, and the game played out as a draw. And, as this was a Fife Cup match, the game required penalties to determine the victors.

Gullan, Smith, Vaughan and Millen scored for Rovers, with Cunningham being Kelty’s only scorer from the spot – meaning Rovers won the match 4-1 on pens. The shootout included a fine save from new keeper, Dabrowski, whose strong left hand kept out Reece Lyon’s effort – great moment for the big man.

Rovers into Round 2 as pre-season preparations continue ahead of the highly anticipated Fife Derby (against different neighbours) in the Viaplay Cup, in a fortnight’s time.

Full Time: Kelty Hearts 2-2 Raith Rovers (1-4 pens)
Crowd: 837

by David Proudfoot

Photos

© Eddie Doig 2023

Highlights

Interviews

Ian Murray spoke to RaithTV after the Fife Cup tie: