The 2015/16 Championship season gets underway this Saturday, with Raith Rovers playing hosts to Mark Burchill's Livingston side in the opening match of the campaign

Both teams have won their first two cup ties against lower league opposition. While Ray McKinnon's men were dispensing with Cowdenbeath and Albion Rovers in the Petrofac Training Cup and League Cup respectively, Livingston had a double-header against Barry Ferguson's Clyde team.

Both were tight affairs, with Livingston emerging by a single goal on either occasion. The first, saw excellent strikes from Miles Hippolyte and Danny Mullen take The Amber Machine through to the next round, although Michael Bolochoweckyk reduced the arrears late on.

Last Saturday's match was even closer, eventually requiring extra-time after 90 goalless minutes, before Jordan White's winner prevented the match from heading to penalties.

Mark Burchill had a hectic summer period, bringing in a dozen new faces in the build up to the new term. In defence, former Alloa Athletic captain, Ben Gordon has been brought in, while full-backs, Ross Millen and Jackson Longridge have been acquired from Dunfermline and Stranraer.The Livingston boss also raided Alloa for their 14-goal striker, Liam Buchanan, and he'll be expected to lead the line this weekend.

Raith had a fine record at Almondvale Stadium last season, winning both matches without conceding a goal, but it was a different story here at Stark's Park, where Raith lost heavily in both matches.

In December, a red-card for Ross Perry in the opening few moments was the pre-cursor to a 5-1 defeat, while in April, Livi were again clear winners in a 4-0 away win.

There's rarely a draw in this fixture, with just four in 26 meetings, the last of which was in 2012. However, the recent head-to-head record does see Livingston hold the advantage, with six wins to Rovers four in the last ten fixtures.

Saturday's match referee will be Mat Northcroft.

Head-to-Head League Record at Stark's Park:

Raith Rovers Wins: 3 | Livingston Wins: 8 | Draws: 1

Raith Rovers Goals: 11 | Livingston Goals: 25

Current Form:

Raith Rovers: W-W | Livingston W-W

Top Goalscorers:

Raith Rovers: Lewis Vaughan 2 | Kyle Benedictus 1 | Rory McKeown 1

Livingston: Jordan White 1 | Danny Mullen 1 | Miles Hippolyte 1

Match Odds:

Raith Rovers: 6/5 | Livingston: 9/4 | Draw: 5/2


         Fine Start As Lions Tamed

Raith Rovers got their Championship season off to the best possible start this afternoon, with a 3-0 opening day victory against Livingston at Stark's Park.

With Kyle Benedictus suspended, it was expected that Raith may have been short-handed at the back, but with Lewis Toshney surprisingly passed fit after turning on his ankle a fortnight ago, it was he and 18-year-old David Bates who anchored the defence.

Up-front, Craig Wighton replaced the injured Lewis Vaughan, with the on-loan Dundee forward partnering Mark Stewart, whilst Iain Davidson took a place on the substitutes bench, after the former Raith captain was snapped up by manager Ray McKinnon on the eve of the new season.

The match started with Livingston shooting towards the South Stand, and they chiselled out the first chance of the match.

Good work from Myles Hippolyte down the right-hand side led to Livingston winning a corner, and from Danny Mullen's delivery, Darren Cole forced a downward header towards goal, which Kevin Cuthbert did well to trap between his legs.

It was the first of three corners which Mark Burchill's side won in the opening exchanges, but Raith dealt with them well as Livingston started the match brightly.

Despite this, it was Raith who took the lead after eight minutes. Ryan McCord looked like he was going to send a free-kick into the congested penalty-area, but instead, he slid it wide to Wighton, whose sidefoot shot from the edge of the area lacked muster. Fortunately, the ball fell kindly to Mark Stewart, who calmly dispatched an effort past Darren Jamieson from close range.

Rovers may have had their noses in front, but Hippolyte on the right, and Mullen on the left, were proving to be a constant threat to Rovers. Firstly, Jason Thomson had to time a sliding tackle to perfection after Mullen advanced from a deep position, and then the same player got a shot off after combining with Scott Pittman, which Cuthbert saved comfortably.

The goalkeeper then almost became a creative force for Raith, as his huge punt up-field caught out Declan Gallagher, allowing Stewart to gallop in on goal, but he swiped at his shot on the bounce and sent it wide.

The match was now an open and entertaining end-to-end affair, and after Jordan White had plonked a shot into the side netting, Cuthbert prevented that man Mullen from restoring parity, excellently palming away his goal-bound shot, after more good work from Pittman.

Back came Rovers in an ebbing, flowing contest, and after a well-worked move across the edge of Livi's penalty area, the ball was eventually rolled into Rory McKeown's path, and after the left-back grabbed his first goal for the club last week, he almost nicked his second in two games, but his shot dribbled just wide of Jamieson's left-hand post.

Rovers did extend their lead in the 33rd minute, and it arrived in controversial circumstances. Grant Anderson's cross inside the box was initially blocked, which the winger instantly appealed. However, play continued, and his second attempt fell to Wighton, whose shot was diverted onto a post by James Craigen. To most viewers surprise, referee Mat Notherton had pointed to the penalty spot, much to the Livingston players chagrin.

Darren Jamieson has a fine record at saving penalties, including stops against Raith over the last few seasons, but Ryan McCord was undeterred, dispatching his shot to Jamieson's left as the 'keeper went to his right.

Livingston were downheartened but far from out the game, and a mix-up between Cuthbert and Toshney allowed the ball to run to Hippolyte, but his lob attempt from outside the box cleared the crossbar.

Cuthbert then denied the visitors twice in the closing stages of the half, firstly denying Liam Buchanan when the former Alloa forward attempted to dink it over him, and then he reacted well to a Mullen free-kick, tipping it away to his right in the dying embers of the half.

The second-period brought some new arrivals. The first, was Gary Glen, who replaced Jackson Longridge as Mark Burchill went with a back-three and five in midfield. The second, was a baby seagull, which took up residency on the park, close to the tunnel, seemingly content as play raged on around it.

Curiously, the interloper almost had a hand in a goal, as a long ball forward should have been gathered by Jamieson, but he seemed to pause as the bird took flight across his path, allowing Craigen to scoop up the loose pass, but his cross was blocked.

The second-half had a more stifled feel to it, and if anything, the alterations to Livi's system appeared a hindrance as opposed to a help. Neither side were as fluent as they'd been in the first 45, but Livi's creativity especially had dwindled away.

With half-an-hour remaining, Raith were inches away from going three up. Grant Anderson picked up possession and scampered forward, freeing up Ross Callachan, whose cross to the back-post was headed towards the back post by Stewart, but with Wighton on-hand to poke it home, his attempt was deflected away for a corner.

They came even closer three minutes later, when Anderson was able to sprint clear of the Livi defence, but with just the 'keeper to beat, his firmly struck shot cannoned back off the post, much to Anderson's disgust.

On 70 minutes, Ray McKinnon made a double substitution, replacing McCord and Anderson with Davidson and Mitch Megginson, and it didn't take the latter of the two subs to make their mark. Pressing the ball deep inside the Livingston half, his challenge diverted the ball into Wighton's path, but his weak shot allowed Jamieson time to get down and divert it away.

While Livingston pushed for a way back into the match, the Rovers defence dealt with most things reasonably comfortably, and as the game started to wind down, Rovers grabbed another goal.

Excellent work down the right by James Craigen preceded his pass inside to Megginson, and despite receiving the ball with his back to goal, he turned superbly, before crashing a shot beyond the helpless Jamieson.

The full-time whistle meant Raith had secured their third consecutive victory, and their third consecutive clean-sheet, meaning they travel to Falkirk next Saturday in both good form, and fine fettle.


Photographs © Tony Fimister 2015



Raith TV spoke with the gaffer after the game

Live Updates

It's that time again! Nice warm day at San Starko for the league. Come on You Raith!!
Warm reception given to Ian Davidson as he makes his way to the bench
Livingston kick off the season at Starks Park in their familiar yellow and Raith wearing the classic Blue and white
First chance of the game falls to Livingston as Cole gets a free header at the back post which is well saved by Cuthbert
A well worked free kick on the edge of the box and a deflected Wighton shot fell to Stewart who buried it well
Raith enjoying the majority possession in the opening 15 minutes with some good play from the midfield today
Unlucky there from Mark Stewart as a lucky bounce see him through one on one but put the ball wide!!
Good play by Mullen there as he flicks the ball over the head of Thomson and forces a good save from Cuthbert
Penalty Raith!!
No one is really sure why the penalty was given but McCord isn't bothered as he steps up and puts it away well!!
Mark Stewart off at the sideline being treated for a cut on his head
Great save from Cuthbert from a Mullen Free kick and it starts a counter attack but it breaks down as Anderson cross it caught
HALF TIME: Raith 2-0 Livingston
Raith shooting towards the South Stand this half. Here's hoping for a repeat of the first 45.
Gary Glen replaces Jackson Longridge for our visitors.
An attacking substitution from Livingston at the beginning of the second half, with striker Glen replacing defender Longridge.
Hippolyte with a long throw into the rovers defence but the home side clear the danger.
Another long throw, this time from McKeown. Every modern side needs a long throw specialist these days!
Spas Georgiev replaces Danny Mullen
Livingston make their second substitution of the match.
Anderson takes a knock on the right wing, thankfully he returns to his feet.
Livingston pressing to get back in the game but Raith are holding a good shape and look dangerous on the counter attack.
Another 'robust' challenge, this time Gallagher on Craigen. No free kick awarded.
A speculative long range effort by Georgiev is on target but is easily gathered by Cuthbert.
A good surging ran by Callachan, who eventually crosses for Stewart to head it back across the goal line, where the despairing Wighton was inches away from his first rovers goal.
Anderson through on goal, smacks his effort off the near post and the ball trickles harmlessly out of play.
Rovers in the ascendency again, playing some excellent football.
A long range effort by Gary Glen hits the top of Cuthbert's bar.
Double substitution for Raith as Davidson and Megginson replaces McCord and Anderson.
Megginson plays in Wighton who rushes his effort, saved by Jamieson.
Final substitution for Livingston, going off Liam Buchanan, replaced by sheerin.
McKeown down on the edge of rovers' 18 yard box. Again, like Anderson, returns to his feet to the relief of the Crowd and no doubt the management team,
Yellow card for David Bates for what can only be deemed as a challenge from behind, looked like he won the ball.
Livingston pressing again, rovers continuing to keep a good shape.
Free kick raith, delivered by Craigen to the unmarked David Bates. The youngster's looping header goes over the crossbar.
1,560 spectators watching today's opening championship match.
Yellow card Toshney for a late challenge.
A cross come shot by Darren Cole is touched onto the crossbar by Cuthbert.
Final substitution for raith, Stewart replaced by Petrie.
A cross by Craigen finds Megginson in the box, who swivelled, before unleashing an unstoppable drive into The top right hand corner of the net!!!
GOAL Raith!!!!
A late booking for Livingston's Gibbons.
An excellent performance and scoreline for the rovers today!!