Raith Rovers 2 - 0 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 21st Aug 2010
There are going to be lots of derbies in the first division this season, and the Pars will need to do better in their share if their ambitions of promotion are to be sustained. Once the game settled down the Pars had the better of the first half, but after surviving a penalty miss they went down rather tamely in the end.
When it came to the stare-out over team selection Jim McIntyre blinked first, opting for a 4-5-1 formation rather than his opposite number’s 4-4-2. With two shut-outs so far in the league, the back 4 was unchanged, reading from right to left: Woods, Dowie, Higgins and McCann; Chris Smith kept the gloves. Steven Bell came back into the team, forming a midfield trio with Mason and Phnn, with wide men Cardle and Gibson looking to get forward to keep the sole striker Andy Kirk company. Alex Burke also returned to the bench, where McGregor, McDougall and Allison kept their places, and where Pat Clarke would also have to watch the start of the game. There was no place for Keddie, or for David Graham and they joined Willis, Thomson and White in the stand.
The Rovers team had plenty of Pars interest – Craig Wilson at right-back, Iain Williamson on the right, Stephen Simmons in mid-field, and Jamie Mole in reserve. Of more concern would be the front pairing of Baird and Tadé
Rovers took the centre and seemed keen not to let the Pars get any chance to settle, at the expense of exercising any control themselves and so it looked like we were in for a scrappy start to the match. Ferry’s fourth minute flicked looked to send Baird free but as the home crowd roared its encouragement McCann stuck out a foot to send the ball behind for the game’s first corner. Allan Walker took the kick which Williamson met by the penalty spot, but powered his header over the bar.
Being a derby we were expecting some meaty challenges, although not necessarily from Stephen Simmons, despite his red-card in the last match at Starks. In fact the former-Par was in heavily on Gibson in the ninth minute causing the yellow-booted winger to limp for a minute or so, or at least until the ball next came near. Like Cardle, Gibson was struggling to get into the game and it was Bell who managed to beat a couple of men down the right after 13 minutes, but the Pars didn’t have enough bodies in the Raith box for one to be picked out from the cross.
After Raith’s energetic start, the Pars were coming more into things. In 19 minutes some pinball on the left ended with the ball at Bell’s feet in the box, but he was quickly tackled and no-sooner had Simmons slipped to gift possession, McCann did likewise.
Midway through the first half we saw our first shot on target. Kirk’s lay off was picked up by Phinn who ran fully 40 yards at the back-pedalling defence to generate a shooting chance, but his firmly struck left footed shot from the angle was straight at keeper McGurn. Nevertheless, the Pars were encouraged to press forward –Gibson had a left foot shot, but high and wide – and the home team were reduced to hitting on the break, getting a second corner just after the half-hour when McCann blocked the combination of Wilson and Tadé. This time Walker’s delivery was low to the front post where Ellis nipped in ahead of Phinn and Smith saved on his knees.
The Pars finished the half on top though. Cardle won a corner on the left which Gibson sent to the back post, Kirk’s header being booted off the line, then a minute later Kirk turned provider, outpacing Grant Murray to lay the ball back to Cardle, but Gibson’s volley from the resultant cross didn’t threaten.
Gibson seemed to have recovered from his earlier knock, one-twoing his way across the park to find McCann who crossed for Bell to win a header, but again McGurn caught with ease. Referee O’Reilly managed to find 90 seconds stoppage time from somewhere, long enough for the Pars to win a second corner, which came all the way to Higgins at the back post but his stabbed effort was again straight at McGurn. So no goals at the break, but the Pars ahead on points.
Half time: Rovers 0 Pars 0
The Pars started where they had left off, pouncing on a poor clearance to work the ball to Gibson, who scooped his shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Then, out of almost nowhere, the Pars conceded a needless penalty. A hopeful ball into the left of the box seemed to be too far ahead of Baird, but Smith came out and made a clumsy attempt to claim, tripping the forward in the process.
A definite penalty and a booking for the keeper, who made amends with a fine save low to his left, before pouncing on the loose ball.