Raith Rovers face Ayr United at Stark's Park this Saturday, as they look to keep the pressure on at the top of the Championship table.

Tuesday's point at East End Park made it seven games without defeat, and while they did slide down the table to fourth due to Arbroath's win over Inverness, they moved a point closer to the top spot, with Kilmarnock the new leaders, who are four points clear of Raith.

That draw at East End Park, with Brad Spencer's late goal cancelling out Dom Thomas's spectacular opener, means Rovers are now seven games unbeaten in all competitions, their longest unbeaten sequence since going eight without loss between September and November 2019.

Saturday's opponents were also involved in a derby encounter of their own in midweek, but they lost out by a goal to nil, after Oli Shaw's last minute penalty gave Kilmarnock all three points, and moving them top of the table in the process.

This will be the two sides second meeting this season, and Rovers will be hoping for a similar outcome to what happened last month, when goals from Ethon Varian and Dario Zanatta secured a comfortable 2-0 win.

The most recent head to head record is completely level, with three wins and four draws apiece in the last 10 meetings.

Saturday's match referee will be Greg Aitken.

Head-To-Head Home League Record:

Raith Rovers Wins: 34 | Ayr United Wins: 17 | Draws: 24

Raith Rovers Goals: 135 | Ayr United Goals: 84

Current Form:

Raith Rovers: D-W-W-W-D-D

Ayr United: W-D-L-W-D-L

Top Scorers:

Raith Rovers: Dario Zanatta 7 | Lewis Vaughan 4

Ayr United: Tomin Adoloye 7 | Cameron Salkeld 2

Match Odds:

Raith Rovers: 17/20 | Ayr United: 14/5 | Draw: 12/5


Raith Hold On For Big Three Points

Raith Rovers made it eight games unbeaten this afternoon, but it was very much a game of contrasting halves, as Rovers stretched into a two goal lead at the interval, before holding on in the second period as Ayr threatened to reel them in. 

Early goals from Ethan Ross and Dario Zanatta had given Rovers a deserved two goal lead in a one sided half, but in a second period where Ayr were on top, Jack Baird halved the deficit, but Raith were able to see the game out, despite coming under pressure. 

Manager John McGlynn went with the same starting eleven which came from behind to get a draw with Dunfermline in midweek, although there was the welcome return of Ethon Varian to the substitutes bench, after he’d missed the Fife derby through injury. 

Rovers looked bright in the opening stages, popping the ball around well, with the Honest Men struggling to get their foot on the ball. 

Even when they were getting a touch, it was somewhat fleeting, with Brad Spencer and Dario Zanatta showing up well in the game’s first 10 minutes. 

That said, neither were involved as Rovers took the lead in the 11th minute. 

Aidan Connolly’s cross from the right found Ethan Ross, and his deft touch guided the ball past Aidan McAdams to give the former Dons player his first goal since returning to the club. 

The goal shook Ayr from their slumber, who started to get more on the ball at that point, although they were unable to feed lone striker Tomi Adoloye, who has been Ayr’s most potent forward this term, with seven goals to his name. 

The game had now become a little more even, although Zanatta had an attempt from distance in the 20th minute, which was deflected over the bar for a corner which came to nothing. 

Jim Duffy’s men were starting to exert themselves on the game, with two shots at goal in as many minutes being blocked inside the area, with the first providing a big penalty shout, with the ball possibly coming off the arm of Christope Berra, albeit from close range. 

However, Rovers made it two in the 26th minute, with a textbook Zanatta strike, that has been his trademark this term, although opponents seem unable to prevent it. 

Dylan Tait was the architect, breaking up play in his own half and driving forward, before playing the ball low to the Canadian’s feet on the left-hand side. 

He cut inside and ran infield, and from 20 plus yards out, he curled an excellent shot past McAdam for his seventh goal of the season, with seemingly all of them being humdingers. 

It was a goal which rocked the visitors, who had improved after the opening goal, and they almost had a bigger deficit in the 33rd minute, when Zanatta almost thread the ball through to Liam Dick, who had timed his run perfectly, but the ball was just cut out when it appeared the left back was about to run through on goal. 

Rovers were picking holes in the Ayr defence, and after Matej Poplatnik had teed up Zanatta, he looked like he was going to have another dig at goal after sidestepping a challenge, but the ball just ran away from him at the vital moment. 

Rovers were now dominating proceedings, and they were so close to going three up as the interval approached, with Reghan Tumilty getting on the end of a deep cross, before unleashing a dipping shot which rebounded off the bar and away to safety. 

It was the final action of a half in which Rovers had dominated, with the Ayr fans voicing their displeasure as Greg Aitken brought the opening 45 to a close. 

Both teams made changes at the interval, with Jonathon Afolabi and Mark McKenzie replacing Cammy Salkeld and Jordan Houston for Ayr, while Rovers withdrew Spencer for Blaise Riley-Snow. 

The visitors were looking a little brighter at the start of the second period, and they created a half chance in the 51st minute, when good work from Adoloye saw him eventually tee up James Maxwell just outside the area, but his blast at goal was well over Jamie MacDonald and his crossbar. 

Ayr continued to ask questions of the Rovers backline in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and while Rovers were dealing with them effectively, the game’s momentum had swung towards the away side. 

Ayr were doing a far better job of pressing Raith in the second period, with McGlynn’s men unable to get the ball out of their own half for the first 15 minutes of the second period. 

They should have reduced the arrears in the 66th minute, when Joe Chalmers was presented with a sight at goal, but while his finish from 10 yards was on target, MacDonald did well to palm his effort away, as Ayr continued to press their hosts back. 

Rovers then made their second swap of the game, with Poplatnik making way for Varian with 22 minutes remaining. 

Ayr continued to press Rovers back though, and they got a goal back in the 71st minute, after good work from Maxwell down the left saw him reach the bye-line and pull the ball back for Jack Baird who finished from close range. 

Rovers then made their final change, with Aaron Arnott coming on for Ethan Ross. 

Rovers had barely competed in the second period, but they almost scored with 15 minutes remaining, when Varian was played in, but from an acute angle, and with a defender in pursuit, his shot was crowded out for a corner which was cleared. 

Raith were very much on the back foot, and they had MacDonald to thank to keep them in the lead in the 83rd minute, when McKenzie rose to meet a set piece cross, which appeared to be heading into the bottom corner, but for the goalkeeper’s intervention. 

Rovers woes continued in the 86th minute, when Liam Dick went down clutching his ankle, and while he initially looked like he’d have to go off, with Rovers having used all their subs, he was eventually able to continue, albeit he looked to be struggling as the clock worked its way down. 

There was one last heart in mouth moment in 93rd minute, when good work from Michael Moffat allowed Afolabi a shot at goal from outside the area, but his shot flashed just wide with MacDonald struggling to get across. 

It was the final action of a tense second period, which kept Rovers in fourth place in the table, although they moved to within two points of second placed Inverness, while moving four points clear of fifth placed Partick Thistle, with the two drawing 0-0. 

Rovers will look to keep their fine unbeaten run going next weekend, when they head to Dumfries to face Queen of the South. 


Photographs  © Tony Fimister



RaithTV talked to John McGlynn after our cinch SPFL Championship win v Ayr United:

Live Updates

Welcome to Starks Park for today's Championship league match against Ayr United. It's 10 degrees and great weather for football.
Raith Rovers off towards the South Stand
Rovers with the first corner of the game. Short corner comes to nothing.
Another corner for Rovers. Zanatta short but put behind by Lang.
Rovers winning all of the loose balls so far.
Tumilty whips in an inch perfect cross and Ross heads pastthe outstretched McAdams for Rovers opener
Ayr trouble the Rovers defence for the first time but the ball is cleared
Zanatta shoots from the edge of the area it takes a deflection for a corner. The ball goes long and out for a throw.
Murdoch shoots, shout for hand ball but play is waived on.
Connolly and Zanatta combine, the latter crosses but McAdams holds.
Latest score, Raith Rovers 1-0 Ayr United
Adeloye shoots from the edge of the area but the ball is blocked.
Dylan Tait lays off to Dario Zanatta who cuts in and skelps the ball past the diving McAdams
A great spell of passing and possession goes unrewarded
Ayr with their first corner. Taken short, they win another. Another short corner is cleared.
Rovers pinning the visitors back but unable to extend their lead.
Dario dances past defenders but loses the ball.
Rovers corner. Connolly crosses, Berra heads wide at the back post.
Zanatta wins the ball in the corner, crosses to Tumilty who hits the bar from the edge of the box.
Half time. Raith Rovers 2-0 Ayr United (Ross 10' Zanatta 22')
HT Subs Houston and Salkeld off, McKenzie and Afolabi on.
Spencer off, Riley-Snow on.
Ayr pressing deep until an injury stoppage to one of their players.
Afolabi doing great work, passed to Maxwell who shoots over the bar.
McKenzie manages to outplay himself and delivers Rovers a throw in.
McAlraces into the box but loses out due to a series of deflections
Ayr corner. Murdoch crosses, Zanatta cleared.
Rovers struggling to break down the visitors this half.
Poplatnik off, Varian on.
Dario with a low shot, saved by McAdams the deflection is also saved by McAdams.
Goal Ayr. Maxwell with all the work cutting in along the bye line, Baird slots home from 4 yards.
Ross off, Arnott on.
Adeloye having a tantrum because a decision goes against him.
Rovers corner. Connolly crosses, the ball is cleared
Adeloye off, Moffat on
A loose ball comes to Connolly who skies the ball instead of the intended lob of the keeper.
Rovers FK. Connolly crosses, the ball goes out wide.
Ayr come close, Lang heads out for a corner.
McKenzie heads, MacDonald stretched to palm behind to protect Rovers slender lead.
McKenzie again, this time forcing Dick to block on the 6 yard line.
Dick yellow for a collision. He is injured in the process.
Attendance 1602
Dick returns to the field
Baird from a corner heads to MacDonald
MotM Zanatta
+2 Afolabi shoots wide from a Moffat lay off.
+5 full time. Raith Rovers 2-1 Ayr United (Ross 10' Zanatta 22') (Baird 70') Attendance 1902 MotM Zanatta