Falkirk Fightback Leaves Raith Empty Handed

It may have been the start of a new month but there was no change in Raith's fortunes today as they went down 4-2 to a Falkirk side who rallied well after trailing 2-1 at the interval.

Raith made two changes from the midweek draw with Alloa. Kevin Moon dropped out through injury and was replaced by Liam Fox,while Gordon Smith was dropped to the bench, allowing Lewis Vaughan to partner John Baird up-front.

Falkirk manager Gary Holt had suggested beforehand that injuries would force him into changes and he started with what, at first glance, appeared to be a 3-4-3, with Rory Loy and the giant-like Mark Beck up front, with Philip Roberts given licence to roam behind them.

Falkirk's attacking line-up appeared to unsettle Raith in the early stages and, with Roberts looking lively down the left-hand side in the opening few minutes, initial impressions were that the Raith back-four were going to have their hands full.

Unsurprisingly then, the first chance was created by the away side but Rory Loy's 22-yard snapshot was easily held by Robinson in the Raith goals.

Raith were eager to attack too, however, and none more so than Jason Thomson, who looked to get forward at every opportunity in the opening stages. An early forray forward ended up with a space opening up in front of him but he stabbed his shot wide of Michael McGovern's post.

McGovern denies Baird

Thomson was, again, the architect of Raith's attack after 13 minutes, picking out Grant Anderson, whose inviting ball into the box found no Raith takers and was ushered out of play by Vaulks.

Five minutes later, Raith found themselves a goal behind, after an untidy goal from a Mark Millar corner. His set-piece was won in the air by Beck, who nodded it down to Loy. He attempted to turn it in with his head but, despite a number of defenders between him and the goal, their furious attempts to clear only succeeded in the ball rebounding back over the line via Dougie Hill.

Despite the set-back, Rovers seemed undaunted and  responded almost immediately.  A Joe Cardle free-kick from wide on the right found Lewis Vaughan and his downward header looked goal-bound after taking a deflection but McGovern managed to stop it with his foot.

McGovern also denied Rovers a minute later, when he smothered at the feet of Baird, after a great run-and-cross from Thomson.

John Baird heads home.

Time-and-time again, Raith were being presented with opportunities down the right flank and it was no surprise when they equalised from that area in the 23rd minute. Anderson was the supplier, crossing a great ball to the back post for John Baird, who powered in a header from close range.

The match tilted Raith's way even further in the 27th minute when Anderson went down after a challenge from Millar. The Falkirk players felt Millar had played the ball first but Callum Booth stepped up to take the penalty, sending it straight down the middle as McGovern dived to his left.

Despite Rovers having the bit between their teeth, they were almost pegged back straight away when Vaulks fired a volley just past the post from inside the box.

Gary Holt then made a tactical change after just 38 minutes, replacing Joe Chalmers, who had clearly been struggling to deal with the potency of Raith's attacks, with Luke Leahy.

Lee Robinson was then forced into a good save from a Beck header and, at the other end, the final action of the half saw McGovern deny Baird at the back post, after a well-worked move involving Vaughan and Fox.

The second half was had barely started when Falkirk got themselves level and again it was poor defending that led to the goal. A quick throw in was flicked on by Beck and David McCracken was afforded all the time he needed to prod the ball home from close range.

Callum Booth makes it 2-1

The Falkirk manager's change had certainly had the desired effect and Rovers looked far less dangerous down the right, now that Chalmers had been removed from the fray. Vaulks was starting to create openings on the other flank, whist Loy was proving a constant thorn to the Raith defence.

Roberts was the next to try his luck after 55 minutes, running half the length of the park after a Raith attack broke down, before sending his shot just past the right-hand post.

Two minutes later, Roberts was the creator, teeing up Leahy, but his volley was excellently kept out by Robinson who gathered it at the second attempt.

With the match looking like it could very well hinge on the next goal, there was dismay amongst the home fans as Falkirk moved ahead in the 70th minute.

Lewis Vaughan was in possession in the Falkirk half but, after pirouetting away from one challenge, he lost the ball a moment later. Within seconds, the ball was being played along the Raith penalty area and Millar teed up Loy, who controlled the pass and sent a shot crashing past Robinson.

A minute later, Vaughan made way for Gordon Smith.

Man-of-the-match Ross Callachan

The confidence that Raith appeared to have in abundance in the first period had visibly ebbed from the players as the third goal went in and Falkirk almost added a fourth, when Kingsley sent a shot just past.

With 8 minutes remaining, Grant Murray made his second change, replacing Joe Cardle with Greig Spence.

There would be no grandstand finish. however, as Falkirk wrapped up all three points with five minutes remaining.

Grant Anderson was penalised for hand-ball just outside the box and Mark Millar stepped up to sweep the ball over the wall and beyond Robinson to make the score 4-2 to the Bairns.

Callachan came close in the closing stages with a 22-yard drive, whilst Baird was even closer from a similar range, forcing McGovern into a good save, just before the full-time whistle.

With eleven goals scored in their last five games, it appears that finding the net is no longer a problem for this Raith side. However, those matches have also seen fourteen conceded, an issue that Grant Murray and his players will have to address, and quickly, if they are to halt the current malaise.

Words: Shaughan McGuigan Pictures: Tony Fimister


Photographs copyright Tony Fimister 2014



Davie spoke to Grant after the match

Live Updates

A bright dry day at Starks Park. A healthy number through from Flkirk
Baird & Vaughan start up front. Moon misses out to be replaced by Fox
Rovers start the game shooting towards the McDermid Stand
Rovers first attack ends in a Thomson through ball going straight to McGovern
Good battling by Anderson results in a good cross headed away
Loy shoots from distance. Easily held by Robinson
Thomson drags a shot well wide
Hill penalised for a foul on Roberts. Falkirk free kick
Glancing header wide of the goal from the fk
Overhit long ball gives Roberts too much to do out wide
Cardle's first involvement is to undercook a cross. Good passing otherwise from Rovers
McGrandle's snap shot deflected just wide. Falkirk corner
Callachan clears the corner off a Falkirk player. Rovers goal kick
Rampaging Thomson run ends with Anderson's cross being knock out for a corner. Straight to McGovern from Cardle
Rovers throw at the corner flag after a bout of head tennis
0-1 Hill's clearance from header goes in off Robinson.
Unorthodox save by McGovern as Rovers try to strike back
Stramash in the 6 yard box as Baird is denied on the goal line by McGovern
Rovers exerting pressure looking for the equaliser
1-1 Great Anderson cross - bullet header by Baird!
Baird's control in the box lets him down and Falkirk clear
Stout defending by skipper Thomson ends a Falkirk attack
Good build up play by Callachan & Cardle results in a corner won off Booth's cross
Rovers penalty. Anderson body checked by Millar
Booth to take the kick
2-1 Booth put the kick straight down the middle
Falkirk attack strongly down the right after going behind
Thomson brought down on the breakaway. Rovers free kick
McGrandles booked for the foul on Thomson. Cardle's great free kick narrowly missed in the 6 yard box
Correction, yellow card for Rory Loy
Vaulks shot across goal just wide. Great opportunity not taken
Baird and Anderson combine on the breakaway but are kept out by the Falkirk defence
Fox shoots on goal - well off target
Beck's header well held by Robinson from Roberts cross
Neat passing between Cardle & Baird, just cut out by Falkirk
Anderson earns a corner with a blocked cross
Cardle with the corner. Cleared and recycled by Fox then crossed but drifts out of play
Chalmers off with a knock. Replaced by Luke Leahy
Anderson on the ground getting treatment from both physios. Limps off but ok to continue
Anderson had a clash of heads with Roberts
Baird stretched to shoot - great save by McGovern. Rovers corner
Callachan with a great strike from the corner. Blocked for a throw-in
Cardle challenges Loy - no penalty given
+2 High ball claimed under the crossbar by Robinson
+3 HT 2-1. Good first 48
2-2 Rovers kick off, but Falkirk have the first attack, scoring from Vaulks throw-in
McCracken with the tap-in from 6 yards
Baird latches on to Fox's long ball. Brought down for a free kick
Cardle shoots from the free kick - straight at the wall
Cardle hesitates and has his shot blocked. Rovers corner
Falkirk breakaway from the corner but Rovers regain possession. Cant manufacture a chance
Baird and Vaughan breakaway, thwarted by some desperate Falkirk defending. Attack peters out
Good link up play between Thomson and Anderson. Rovers corner
Cardles corner too deep. Rovers keep the pressure on
Roberts on the breakaway, drags a shot wide from a narrow angle
Kingsley receiving attention after a blow to the midriff
Hill with 2 great challenges in midfield. Sets Anderson free but McGovern gathers
Great save by Robinson from Loy. Had to be quick to gather the second ball
Cardle cant find Baird in the box with his cross
Hill with some great play to thwart Beck
Falkirk free kick - Millars effort evades everyone
Callachen sets Baird free but his shot is blocked
Baird wins a free kick after a foul by McCracken
Ref awards a goal kick - Baird & Vaughan convinced it was a corner
Vaughan with a yellow for dissent after the debatable decision
Kingsley with a tame shot from distance
Roberts beats Booth well - Falkirk take the quick corner, headed well over by Beck
Vaughan does well in two heavy challenges. Wins the free kick
Booth attacking down the left with a throw. Ball breaks & Falkirk counter
Loy with a fine finish cutting in from the left
Vaughan off, Smith on
Kingsley shoots well over, then shoots narrowly wide
Good interplay between Baird & Booth but the move breaks down
Stray passes aplenty from Rovers. The goal seems to have affected the confidence
Leahy has a shot deflected for a corner
Millar's corner deflected out for another corner
Callachan drives forward, but his cross deflects out for a goal kick
Roberts fouls hill late and wild on the touchline. Lucky not to be a red
Spence on for Cardle
Beck set free but overhits the ball and Robinson gathers
Thomson shoots well over after Smith sets him up
Anderson penalised for handball 20 yards from goal. Falkirk free kick
2-4 Millar strokes the free kick in over the wall to Robinsons right
Sibbald on for Roberts
Callachan with a shot from the edge of the box. Blocked
Durojaiye on for Millar
+1 Baird wins a corner. Anderson takes and Callachan narrowly volleys over
+3 Baird with a 30 yard shot on the run. Tipped over by McGovern
+4 FT