Raith Knocked Out After Penalty Drama

The League Cup third round draw takes place on Thursday, but it will do so minus the name of Raith Rovers, who were eliminated in the cruelest possible manner, after an evening of high drama at Stark's Park.

Manager Grant Murray made just one change from the weekend draw with Dundee. Liam Fox came back in for Saturday's man-of-the-match, Lewis Vaughan, allowing Calum Elliot to move forward to partner Gordon Smith up front.

You could sense straight from the kick-off that the home side were up for the challenge from their Premiership opponents, as Fox and then Cardle immediately closed down their Hearts counterparts, earning a throw in and a huge roar from the home fans in the opening seconds.

Callum Booth holds his ground.
Callum Booth stands firm.

It was the former Livingston captain Fox who had the first attempt at goal, but his 25 yard effort was never troubling Hearts keeper Jamie MacDonald.

Hearts first attempt was more dangerous. Jason Holt cut in and sent in a shot that zipped across the turf, but David McGurn handled it comfortably.

The most noticeable thing about the early exchanges was that all the play was coming down Raith's right hand side, a situation that hasn't often been the case this season. Whether Grant Murray had specifically singled out left-back Kevin McHattie as a potential weak link is unknown, but the defender was being given a torrid time by Grant Anderson. Time and time again the Rovers winger took the ball around him, but his crosses were proving less successful than his dribbling ability, and Rovers were unable to make the most of the situation.

Perhaps still in a daze from how often Anderson had turned him, McHattie even had the misfortune to take a throw-in backwards, meaning referee Brian Colvin had to blow for those rarest of offences, a foul throw.

The game was now starting to settle down, and for the first time in the match, Hearts were starting to move the ball around quickly, with Jamie Walker, Jason Holt and Callum Paterson in particular looking dangerous.

Raith however were closing down quickly, allowing Hearts very little room, or time on the ball, meaning that crucially, the away side were rarely enjoying sustained periods of possession, and were struggling to create opportunities.

Rovers on the other hand were making the most of their time on the ball, and another run from Anderson after 18 minutes was ended in a crude manner by McHattie, who earned a booking for his misdemeanour.

While the game was engrossing, chances were few and far between. Cardle got on the end of a Smith pass but his effort was turned around the post by MacDonald. It was to be the last piece of action for the Hearts keeper, as he pulled up taking a goal kick shortly after, and was replaced by Mark Ridgers.

Grant Anderson had been considerably quieter since he'd been clattered by McHattie, and as a result, Raith's creativity had dwindled. Twice in as many minutes, misplaced passes in midfield allowed Hearts the opportunity to break, and the second of these saw Paul Watson booked, after he fouled Patterson on the half way line.

The final action of the half saw Calum Elliot testing Ridgers from 30 yards, and the replacement goalkeeper almost allowed the swerving strike to creep in, but he did just enough to push it back out.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first, as Anderson picked up the ball and drove straight at the Hearts defence before being fouled by Danny Wilson, who became the second Hearts player to receive a caution for fouling the winger.

After 49 minutes the deadlock was broken, and if ever a goal was worthy of being described as a stramash, then this was it. Calum Elliot beat two men down the right hand side, before hitting the by-line and sending in a low cross. Amongst a blurred menagerie of swinging limbs, Joe Cardle had one attempt, Gordon Smith had two, one incredibly kept out by Ridgers, and eventually, just when it seemed the ball was being kept out by some kind of witchcraft, Liam Fox managed to slot the ball into the side of the net via the aid of a defection. It was a lead that was thoroughly deserved.

Liam Fox opens the scoring.

Smith then saw a header blocked, and Ridgers had to dive at Cardles's feet, but the ebb of the game was starting to turn against Rovers. Whether Hearts had moved up a gear, or Raith were simply panicking slightly, something had changed. Tackles were being missed, players weren't being closed down, and poor decisions were being made. All three of these things were in evident for the Hearts equaliser on the hour mark.

Jamie Walker ran into the Raith penalty box and rode two challenges, which although hadn't dispossessed him, had at least forced him wide. Jason Thomson then lunged in, despite the player appearing to be going nowhere. Referee Brian Colvin rightly pointed to the spot, allowing Jamie Hamill to place his penalty in the bottom right hand corner.

Raith immediately had a great chance to go back in front, but Smith crashed his back post effort wide of the goal after a flick on from Cardle.

Play was now swinging from end to end but the next piece of action, and the most controversial, occurred in the Hearts penalty area on 72 minutes. Dougie Hill and Jamie Hamill went eyeball to eyeball in the 6 yard box, a situation that surprisingly ended with Hamill on the ground, despite no obvious contact or motion towards the Hearts player from Hill.

Brian Colvin however, decided that Hill had done enough to warrant a red card, and suddenly the momentum had swung towards the Midlothian side. Laurie Ellis was immediately brought on for Smith, as Raith went 4 4 1.

Brian Colvin takes action.

Hamill, who recovered quickly and required no medical attention, was then greeted with a chorus of boos and cat calls every time he touched the ball, which was frequently, as Hearts started to take advantage of their numerical superiority.

With just over 5 minutes remaining, Lewis Vaughan replaced the exhausted looking Anderson.

As you would expect, Hearts were dominating possession, while Raith were struggling to keep a hold of the ball with just Elliot as an outlet. Despite this Hearts had limited sightings at goal, other than a shot in the final minute, which McGurn did well to tip wide.

Extra-time brought more of the same, with Hearts having the vast majority of the ball, pinning Rovers back. They were defending manfully however, with Laurie Ellis using his experience to cajole and direct his team-mates.

Murray made his final change on 98 minutes, replacing Kevin Moon with Ross Callachan.

By this stage Raith were looking happy to take the game to penalties, and for the first time in the match, McGurn was being kept busy. He had to repel two efforts from Walker and come for a number of crosses, as the Rovers players retreated further and further. What brief respite they were getting was coming from the inventiveness of Vaughan, and the industry of Elliot, who held the ball up well and managed to carve out a couple of half chances in the final 30 minutes.

The full-time whistle meant that the game was going to penalties, and while Paul Watson's was successful, Hearts first, taken by Danny Wilson, went high over the bar.

Lewis Vaughan then sent his wide, allowing the pantomime villain of the piece, Jamie Hamill to bring the scores level.

Man of the match, Calum Elliot.

The next four spot-kicks were all buried with aplomb, but Liam Fox then saw his effort well saved by Ridgers, meaning that Kevin McHattie had the chance to win the match. It perhaps epitomised his night, that his poor effort was kept out by McGurn.

Jason Thomson was next. but his strike hit the bar and went over. Jason Holt couldn't do any better however, dragging his shot wide, and the shoot-out continued.

Joe Cardle and David Smith both found the net, before the unfortunate Ross Callachan saw his attempt kept out by Ridgers. Brad McKay successfully scored with his, putting Hearts through to the next round, and bringing an end to a match that had gripped everyone in attendance long into the night.

While the game was very much a case of what might have been for Raith, there were far more positives that negatives to take from it. Rovers were the dominant side with 11 men, and must take encouragement from that, considering Hearts current form in the Premiership.

Raith will be hoping to recreate that type of performance on Saturday, when they travel to Greenock, to face Morton.

Report: Shaughan McGuigan Pictures: Tony Fimister


Photographs copyright Tony Fimister 2013



Davie spoke to Grant after the penalty shoot - out defeat to Hearts

Live Updates

Fox the first to try for goal, his 25 yarder scuttling past the keepers right post.
Jason Holt shoots from distance, McGurn has it covered.
Anderson makes another run on wing, his cross comes to naught.
Walker's cross skimmed past the face of goal.
Cardle almost through, just beaten by McKay.
Comic gold, McHattie dropped the ball backwards at a throw, shy to Rovers.
Elliot goes down in the box, ref says no penalty.
Hearts on the attack, McGurn takes Walkers cross with ease.
MacDonald punches Booths corner clear.
Anderson caught by McHattie.
McHattie yellow card.
Cardles free kick goes for a corner, Hil heads just over, Anderson returns to play.
Smith and Cardle combine, MacDonald injured saving from the latter.
Hearts keeper recovers yo block a corner.
MacDonald off, Ridgers on.
Cardle and Moon working the ball, Elliot hooks his shot at goal.
Billy King has a shot and nearly took out a photographer at the corner flag.
This is a far different Rovers team from our last encounter with Hearts.
Watson yellow, his foul stifled a Hearts attack.
Smith shot is fumbled by Ridgers, Elliots follow up is blocked by an onrushing defender.
Elliot hits a 30 yard screamer at goal, Ridgers just managed to deflect it away.
McHattie brings out a fingertip save from McGurn.
Hearts second corner in a minute is cleared upfield.
+2 halftime, a good performance from the Rovers.
+2 halftime, a good performance from the Rovers.
Hearts quick out of the traps, Walker comes close, McGurn saves.
McHattie yellow for pulling down Anderson.
Elliot curls a twenty yard free kick a yard past the post.
Any one of six Rovers players could have found the net after a goalmouth melee, however it was Fox who eventually found the back of th net. GOAL ROVERS.
Smith sees his header cleared then Cardle goes in on goal, a shaky Ridgers managed to clear.
Robinson off, Oliver on.
Smith loses the ball twice in attack.
Holt fires in from close range, McGurn saves.
Penalty Hearts, Hamill places the ball to the left hand corner. Goal Hearts.
Cardle flicks the ball on to Smith who hammered the ball past the goal when it looked easier to score.
Thomson may have received a booking for the previous penalty.
Play getting a bit scrappy.
Holt gets all ' sumo ' on Anderson at the side of the pitch.
Hill unfairly red carded. Face to face with Hamill, it looked like Hamill was taken out by a sniper.
Smith off, Ellis on.
Hamill yellow for bringing down Elliot.
King off, Smith on.
Elliot yellow for a soft tackle on McGowan.
Rovers corner, Booth the provider alas Moon skies his shot.
Rovers repel several attacks and attack themselves, this could go either way.
Anderson off, Vaughan on.
+1 play going to and fro
+2 McGurn dives to his right for a fingertip save. Extra time.
First half ET. Rovers kick off towards the North Stand.
David Smith fires over from 20 yards.
David Smith knocks on from a corner, McGurn recovers.
McGurn plucked the ball out of air to deny Walker.
Moon off, Callachan on.
Lewis shows skills releasing Elliot but he is two yards short.
Cardle squares to Booth who rasps a shot into the side net.
Ridgers tested again.
Hamill scoops the ball well wide from 20 yards, the Rovers supporters show their appreciation.
2nd half ET.
McGurn parries Walkers shot from a corner.
Davie again to the rescue, smothering another Hearts effort.
Lewis great play on the right, beats two but not a third.
This is some cup tie.
Rovers good build up of passes but the final pass goes astray.
Booth fights and wins a corner.
The ball goes up the park for a Hearts corner, Walker shoots through a sea of legs, McGurn saves.
Rovers under the cosh.
A Hearts corner sails across the face of goal and out of play.
Elliot through but offside. ET finished. Penalties now.
Penalties to be taken towards the South Stand.
Watson scores.
Wilson over the bar.
Vaughan missed past the post.
Hamill scores.
Elliot scores.
McGowan scores.
Booth scores.
Walker scores.
Fox saved by Ridgers.
McHattie saved by McGurn.
Thomson off the bar, missed.
Holt misses past the post.
Cardle scores.
Smith scores.
Callachan saved by Ridgers.
McKay scores. Hearts win 5 - 4 on penalties.