Petrofac Challenge Cup: DUNFERMLINE 1 RAITH ROVERS 0; 05/08/14
The Pars showed three changes from the team that saw off Annan Athletic 5-1 on Saturday. In came Ross Millen, Ross Drummond and Shaun Byrne, taking the places of Ryan Williamson, the suspended Alex Whittle and Ross Forbes. Cup holders Rovers made one change from the eleven that took the field against Forfar Athletic on Saturday, Lewis Vaughan replacing Callum Elliot.
Vaughan and Christian Nade got the match underway with the Rovers attacking the goal in front of a decent crowd in the Norrie McCathie Stand. Early danger was right there with Josh Falkingham closing out Mark Stewart at the right post after a Nade flick on played Raith into a good area.
In ninth minute Falkingham was happy to concede another corner on the right after former Pars loanee Jason Thomson got to the corner flag. There were jeers from the stand as the corner kick was overhit. That was followed by loud cheers when in 12th minute Nade was put through on the keeper but Ryan Scully slid in to disposses the big striker.
Raith had the Pars defence under pressure with Vaughan pushing towards them when Byrne broke free and Faissal El Bakhtaoui evaded the offside trap to get in on the right but his shot from ten yards out hit the sidenetting suspiciously off Kevin Cuthbert's glove but no corner.
Ryan Conroy then blasted a Rovers free kick from distance over the crossbar and Rory McKeown hit the next one from further out straight into the arms of the all turquoise Scully.
The Pars venture forward saw Millen execute a cross in from the right but Cuthbert dropped on one knee and gathered. As the half hour mark approached Dunfermline enjoyed more possession and the home fans appreciated some classy passing. Millen flashed across the Raith box and despite Geggan, Moffat and El Bakhtaoui all being in good position and virtually unmarked, none got a touch.
Drummond slid in and handed Raith another corner in 31 minutes but Ross Perry made a poor attempt in front of goal and sent the ball over the top. A superb cross from Drummond then created a good opening but McKeown reacted fastest and cleared. Next a long throw in from Drummond travelled to Geggan on the edge of the six yard box but Cuthbert held his header.
There was dismay in 36 minutes when Vaughan's shot was hot across the face of goal but a corner was awarded from which Vaughan got in a better effort but that was blocked. At the other end Spence set up El Bakhtaoui but his shot too was blocked.
A Millen corner three minutes later presented Buchanan with a heading opportunity but his attempt was off target. Moffat then quickly forced another corner back on the left. This then allowed the Pars another rehearsed setpiece with six Pars players holding back in a posse at the midway point of the Raith half. The pack broke and sprinted in with the defence on their back foot but Millen's delivery evaded El Bakhaoui in the six yard box and Falkingham was the closest of the runners but alas no touch.
Moffat then got in for a shot from 18 yards that was saved by Cuthbert and Geggan, close in, reacted to the rebound but turned the chance high over the bar. Millen then got a chance as the ball reached him on the right side of the box but his diagonal drive drifted narrowly outside the left goalpost.
The Pars had had an excellent second quarter of the game and at half time the stats recorded 62% possession by the League One side. As the crowd were entertained by the Petrofac Training services shooting tournament there were great expectations that the home fans would witness goals in front of the McCathie crowd in the half to follow.
Half Time: Dunfermline 0 Raith Rovers 0
Within twenty five seconds of the restart Nade forced his way through the centre of the park and looked gertain to score as he shot from 16 yards but thankfully Scully got enough of the ball to take the sting out of the shot and Millen behind him swept the ball clear.
At the other end, Byrne got in a shot from 30 yards that Cuthbert parried and then dropped on. El Bakhtaoui switched in from the left touchline and released a shot from just slightly closer but he picked out Cuthbert.
Then in 54 minutes El Bakhtaoui received a lay off from Moffat took a move to his right and pulled the trigger on a shot from 15 yards out but Cuthbert remarkably stopped the shot and gathered as the ball threatened to squirm away from him.
Millen delivered another dangerous ball from a 57th minute free kick but the Rovers headed clear Geggan played a ball from Spence back to Moffat who was able to crash the ball on target from 25 yards out but Cuthbert held.
Despite the lack of goals this was turning out to be quite a cup tie. The home side had the upper hand but the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break with Nade in particular keeping Martin focussed.
At the midway point of the second half Moffat broke away taking the ball from his own half deep into the Raith one before releasing Falkingham to his left. As the wee Yorkshireman got to the edge of the box, he was unceremoniously dumped off the ball by Perry earning the Rovers centre back a yellow card. From the free kick Millen drove the ball into the five man Rovers wall and the chance was gone.
Geggan was offside when Moffat sent the ball out to the right for his captain but it still looked like Dunfermline could win this match.
The goal that the Pars thoroughly deserved duly arrived with just eight minutes remaining. Cuthbert pulled off a great block as Falkingham rifled a shot in from the right, he then laced the rebound back through the box but found no takers. However MILLEN picked up the ball outside the box and from the moment it left his right foot was destined for the top right corner of the Kirkcaldy side's net. 1-0
The goal came at the right time. Raith put up a gallant attempt to rescue the tie but the remaining minutes only allowed the Pars to introduce two subs. That meant an Athletic debut for new signing from Reading, Chigozie Ugwu. The English striker got a warm welcome and he showed some of his pace before Referee Alan Muir confIrmed the cup holders exit at their first defence.
Not just a good result but a very good and dominating performance against a team from a higher league. Next up in two week's time in the Petrofac Training Cup - Falkirk at home. Bring on the Bairns!
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ross Millen, Lewis Martin, Gregor Buchanan, Ross Drummond; Shaun Byrne (Ryan Thomson 87), Andy Geggan (c), Lewis Spence, Josh Falkingham; Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Chigozie Ugwu 88), Michael Moffat
SUBS: Ryan Wallace, Ross Forbes, Jonathan Page, Ryan Williamson, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Byrne (24)
RAITH ROVERS: Kevin Cuthbert; Jason Thomson (c), Paul Watson, Ross Perry, Rory McKeown; Mark Stewart, Liam Fox, Martin Scott, Ryan Conroy; Lewis Vaughan, Christian Nade.
SUBS: Ross Callachan; Laurie Ellis, Liam McCroary, Callum Robertson, Ross Matthews, David Bates, Ross Laidlaw (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Scott (32), Perry (67)
REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Fine 20C
50-50 HALF TIME DRAW: Ticket no.51061 won £781
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (home) v Brechin City
Saturday 9th August 2014, kick off 3.00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm