Dunfermline Athletic 0 Raith Rovers 2
The season is still in its infancy, yet this was already the Pars’ third Fife derby. Unusually for this fixture, Raith Rovers enjoyed the status of being in a higher division than their rivals, and they made this difference tell, taking an early lead following another defensive lapse, before wrapping up the tie with a second half penalty after Geggan had tripped Cardle.
The Pars have a chequered history with the Ramsdens Cup in its various guises. Often it has been seen as a distraction from the main business of getting promotion, at best being an opportunity to blood one or two fringe players. Certainly, it is a competition where the Pars have tended to underperform, but having had a good result against Cowdenbeath, they had a chance to progress further at the expense of their traditional rivals. This meant that Jim Jefferies relied on experience in his choice of squad. He did start the Dundee United pair Ferguson and Moore, but opted for Geggan at right-back and the back-up of Potter and Dargo on the bench. The formation was different too – although the defence was a normal back four of Geggan, Young, Morris and Whittle in front of Scully. However, it looked like a midfield five of Ferguson on the right, Wallace on the left and Byrne, Falkingham and Thomson in the middle, with Jordan Moore leading the line on his own. On the bench, as well as Dargo and Potter, Stephen Husband was finally back from suspension, and he took his place alongside Millen and Goodfellow.
Rovers went for a 4-4-2- which contained a few familiar faces, none more so than that of Joe Cardle on the left wing. Jason Thomson was right back, David McGurn, he of the sensational saves, was between the sticks, and Calum Elliot and Greig Spence formed a potentially dangerous strike-force.
The Pars won the toss and opted to defend the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie stand. Cardle’s first touch saw him unable to control a fierce pass, which was met with some derision, but he soon got the chance to show his deadball skills when Morris found himself the wrong side of the ball and sliced a clearance out for a corner. Cardle hit to the back post where Hill lost his marker and headed the Rovers ahead. 1-0.
So yet another early defensive mistake from the Pars, and worse was nearly to follow when Morris played a free-kick to Young who wasn’t looking, he hurriedly tried to return it and Morris only just got the ball back to Scully. However, the Pars perked up a bit – Falkingham dodged one tackle in 7 minutes but got chopped at the very edge of the box –but Wallace’s free-kick cannoned off the defensive wall. Soon after some lovely touches on the left saw the ball fall to Moore but his half-volley flew over the bar. Byrne, after grabbing his first goal at the weekend had a good chance too just before the half-hour when a little burst of pace allowed him to latch on to a good passing move, but McGurn saved well from his flick.
Meanwhile the visitors had had a chance to extend their lead when Jason Thomson’s deep cross was only half cleared and Elliot’s flick found Liam Fox but the former Livi midfielder dragged his shot past the post. As expected, there were a few firm challenges going in, with the Rovers being penalised more, but the only yellow card was flashed in the face of Jason Thomson, for apparent simulation.
However, Raith were close to doubling their lead in 36 minutes, Falkingham carelessly over-ran the ball at the edge of his area allowing Elliot possession, and after Moon had had a go the ball broke to Spence who took the ball to the side of Scully, but Morris was back to block, with Cardle’s follow up beng blocked also.
So the Pars trailed at the interval, but just by the one.
Half time: Pars 0 Rovers 1
Both sides made one switch at for the second period, with Husband coming on for Ferguson, and Gordon Smith replacing Greig Spence. This meant a slight switch to the Pars format, looking more obviously like a 4-3-3 with Thomson moving over to the right, and Wallace, who had swapped wings with Ferguson two thirds of the way through the first half, moving back to the left.