Raith And Hibs Draw A Blank

Raith Rovers pre-season preparations continued at Stark's Park tonight, with an encouraging 0-0 draw against Europa League hopefuls Hibernian.

Raith made 4 changes from Wednesday nights 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United. David McGurn replaced Ross Laidlaw in goals, while in defence, Laurie Ellis dropped to the bench, allowing Reece Donaldson to slot in alongside Dougie Hill at centre half. Ross Callachan started in the middle of the park in place of Kevin Moon, and Greig Spence started on the sidelines as Calum Elliot partnered Gordon Smith up front.

Dave McGurn returns in goal

Hibs had just returned from Portugal where they'd lost their previous warm up match 2-1 to Nottingham Forrest, and the conditions in Kirkcaldy seemed more suited to the Algarve, as Stark's Park basked under the glorious evening sunshine.

This match was Hibernian's fourth pre-season fixture, and they looked sharper early on as Rovers struggled to get an early grip on proceedings.

Ross Caldwell was the first to catch the eye and Callum Booth had to make an excellent sliding challenge to deny him as he looked to latch on to the end of a smart passing move.

The majority of Hibs good work was coming down their right hand side, and Alex Harris showed impressive technique to nutmeg Booth and get to the bye line, but although his cross found Handling unmarked, his shot was blocked by Thomson.

Handling came closer a few minutes later when he got a shot off after a one-two with Harris but McGurn saved comfortably.

Raith's first attempt at goal came after quarter of an hour. A long, accurate ball by Hill found Elliot in a surprising amount of space just outside the box, but he couldn't quite strike it cleanly on the turn and it was held easily by Ben Williams.

The home side then forced a couple of corners, the second of which saw Williams scrambling for the ball and failing to collect, but after a stramash in the box, the ball was eventually cleared.

Ross Callachan holds off a challenge

The game had started to settle down and while goalmouth chances weren't plentiful, there were signs that Raith were growing into the game. As it was against Sheffield United, most of the attacking threat was coming down the wings via Cardle and Anderson, while Fox and Callachan were both playing a holding role in the middle. Callachan especially looked impressive, snapping into challenges and using the ball well, despite being up against a far more experienced duo of Owen Tudor Jones and Tom Taiwo.

It was the Raith wide men who were involved in the next chance just after the half hour mark. Cardle swept the ball over to the opposite flank to Anderson, whose initial cross was blocked, but as he gathered up the rebound, his shot from an acute angle nestled into the side netting.

The last action of the half almost saw Hibs take a barely deserved lead into the break. Danny Handling shrugged off two challenges before sending in a shot that McGurn did well to palm away.

Pat Fenlon made one change at half time, replacing Alex Harris with Paul Cairney.

The deadlock was almost broken five minutes into the second half, after a brilliant free kick cross from Cardle was headed downwards by Hill but his attempt went just wide.

Dougie Hill powers in a header

Worryingly for Hibs, considering they face a European tie against Malmo next week, Raith started to boss the game at the start of the second half. Both full backs had shown a willingness to get forward and Booth burst into the box before sliding the ball across goal, but it was just too far ahead of Anderson for him to connect.

A short pass back then almost allowed Smith a sight at goal but Williams spotted the problem early and sprinted from his box to clear the danger.

While both Rovers strikers were working hard, they were doing a lot of their work away from goal and dropping deep. While this was leading to Raith outnumbering the Hibs midfield, it also meant that at times there was no-one to aim a cross at when Raith won possession.

Grant Murray made his first substitution with 25 minutes remaining, replacing Elliot with Greig Spence. The forward had a wild strike at goal within seconds of arriving on the park, but as an indication of just how wayward his effort was, the game restarted with a throw-in.

As is always the case with friendlies, the game started to become disrupted with substitutions as Hibs looked to freshen things up with a number of changes. Rovers made far fewer, but did bring on Kevin Moon for Liam Fox with 20 minutes to go.

The former St. Johnstone man was involved right away, gathering up a Thomson pass and teeing up Anderson, but his fierce cross shot was well held by Williams.

Murray then made his final change, bringing on a trialist for Gordon Smith and he almost combined with Kevin Moon to provide a winner, with the latter teeing up Cardle, but with the goal at the wingers mercy, he took an extra touch to cut inside and the chance was lost.

The trialist in action

The game may have ended up goalless but it was a good work out for both teams as they reach differing stages of their build ups. For Hibs, the concerns must be how they will cope against Swedish opposition next week, while Rovers fans were content with the strides that looked to have been made since Wednesday.

Donaldson would have been pleased with his performance at centre half , but it was his partner Hill who was man of the match with a stand out performance. In midfield, Ross Callachan showed enough to suggest he will be playing more than just a bit part role this season while Cardle again did well out wide.

Grant Murray will be hoping the improvements can continue, when they welcome Hearts to Stark's Park on Wednesday evening.

Pictures: Tony Fimister   Report: Shaughan McGuigan


Photographs copyright Tony Fimister



Grant spoke to Davie about the tough pre-season test

Hibs gaffer Pat Fenlon was disappointed after the friendly

Live Updates

Welcome to a sunny Starks Park 26 degrees and not a breath of wind in the air.
Good luck to Hibernian in their forthcoming Europa League campaign.
Raith in all red, Hibernian kick off towards the South Stand.
Lively opening exchanges for both sides, the keepers winning out.
Grant Anderson showing some skills down the wing.
Handling the first to try a shot on goal, McGurn saved well.
Handling beats Callachan to the ball and fires over from twenty yards.
The warm weather isn't slowing the pace.
Booth tracks back well to deny the on rushing Caldwell.
Taiwo clear in the area but is beaten by Donaldson.
Elliot tries a shot from twenty yards, but is held by Williams.
Reece Donaldson does well to hold off Caldwell, ball out for a corner.
Hill fires towards goal but is blocked on the line.
After a spell of Taiwo pressure, Hibs rush up the park but fail to threaten goal.
Hibs free kick from twenty five yards, Jones sends the shot wide.
Grant Anderson hits the side netting.
30 yard Hibs free kick. Stevenson flights the ball to Handling but he only managed to head wide.
Cardle and Fox play a one, two but Cardle's effort is blocked.
Hill and Donaldson combining well in defence.
McGurn saves from Handling.
McGurn collects the ball midair from a Hibs corner.
Anderson puts pressure on the Hibs defence with a pacey cross.
Half time.
Half time sub....Harris off, No 14 Foster on
Caldwell tries to chip McGurn but its wide
Craig gets into the box blocked by Hill for a corner Hill clears the resulting corner
Cardle delightful free finds Hill and he heads narrowly past the far post
Fox plays in Elliot but Jones gets a good and ball spins to keeper Williams
Lots of fouls being committed but nothing nasty!
Rovers best spell of the match good pressure but not forcing Williams into a save
Booth does a Baines and gets into the box plays in Smith but McGivern timely tackle for a corner
Silly foul by Donaldson would be a yellow in a competiive match....n
Good interchange between a few Hibs players and Caldwell fires wide
Smith nutmegs Jones but its cleared
Spence for Elliot and Horribine for McPake
Taiwo off Gold on
Hibs corner headed and cleared off the line
Long ball frees Gold who fires tamely at McGurn
Moon replaces Fox
Caldwell off Donaldson(?) on
Moon finds Anderson, fierce shot well held by Williams
Bit of neat trickery by Forster gets him through but McGurn saves at his feet
Canna keep up with the subs! Smith off Trialist on
Free on edge of box Cardle takes cleared by Stevenson
Cardle finds Callachan who shoots hard and straight at Williams
Hill heads over from another Cardle free
And Hill gets back to block a Handling shot
Corner straight at Williams
Full time. A decent match Donaldson and Hill did fine at CB Booth looked solid and threatening at LB.