SPFL Championship: RAITH ROVERS 2 DUNFERMLINE 0: 20/08/16
Lee Ashcroft in for Callum Fordyce. Bobby Barr (71) 1-0: Mark Stewart (79) 2-0
After an uncomfortable gap of three traumatic years Dunfermline Athletic travelled to Kirkcaldy for a league match against Raith Rovers. While the Pars battled to get back out of League One, the Rovers climbed from finishing 7th and 6th to a Premiership play off place after finishing fourth last season. Now back together this was the Fife Derby that both clubs relished.
Raith Rovers, top of the league after two wins out of two went with the same again starting eleven as defeated St Mirren the previous week.
Pars boss Allan Johnston brought back centre back Lee Ashcroft who missed the match against Hibs through suspension. That meant Callum Fordyce was back on the bench in an otherwise unchanged starting eleven.
Raith got the match underway at two minutes to three attacking the goal in front of a packed McDermid Stand. The Rovers made sure that the Pars fans behind that goal got to see at close quarters much of the opening two minutes. There were clearances and ultimately on two minutes a shot that Ross Matthews turned over David Hutton`s bar.
Gavin Reilly got in the Pars first shot from an acute angle on the right but crashed his effort wide right. Next Declan McManus made a chip to the near post from deep right but Hutton held with ease.
Ashcroft intercepted a Matthews cross after McManus and Lewis Vaughan had exchanged passes and then in 12th minute a Bobby Barr cross from the left was just missed by Matthews at the back post, Lewis Martin doing just enough to put the Rovers man off.
Next minute Rhys McCabe tried a 30 yard shot that came closest this far to opening the scoring, his effort hitting the top of the net but on the wrong side of it! The Pars first corner in 17th minute was delivered in from the right by Kallum Higginbotham and Andy Geggan appeared to be checked by Ross Callachan as the ball came over. In the end the ball ended up safely in keeper Aaron Lennox hands.
Cardle then forced Jason Thomson into conceding a free kick deep down the left and Higginbotham sent the ball over for Reilly on the far side of the box, his header being grabbed by Lennox as Ashcroft tried to head home.
The Pars kept up the pressure Higginbotham flighting the ball across the box, Reilly failed to get high enough but the Rovers turned it behind for 21st minute corner. Higginbotham again took the setpiece but Ashcroft was penalised for climbing over his marker in his attempt to head home.
The Derby atmosphere ignited in 24 minutes after Reilly was tumbled by Jason Thomson and Cardle was taken out by Matthews in the follow through. Higginbotham showed the most aggression as the players reacted. He was shown yellow as was Matthews.
The cauldron like feel intensified as Cardle was tripped on the edge of the box and Lennox had to pull off a fine save at his top right to deny Higginbotham a goal. The Pars continued with more deliveries from the right and Jean-Yves M`Voto did well to clear as both Cardle and Moffat had opportunities to finish.
It had been a great spell from Allan Johnston`s side but in 34 minutes Ben Richards-Everton was yellow carded for hand ball on the deck as he failed to properly deal with a speculative ball out of the Rovers half. Vaughan took the setpiece and tested Hutton with a swerving attempt from 30 yards out.
Four minutes from the interval, Cardle slipped the ball to Reilly who made Lennox drop to his left to hold the 20 yard shot.
It had been a hotly contested first half and there were a couple more efforts at Lennox`s goal separated by one at the other end cleared by Ashcroft heading the ball on the deck. A promising move in which Cardle played a 1-2 with McCabe ended up with Jason Thomson heading the cross away was still not enough the break the deadlock.
After surviving Raith`s early attacks Dunfermline had the better of the play and their opponents relied heavily on breakaways that at times were lighteningly fast. A great second half beckoned.
Half time: Raith Rovers 0 Dunfermline 0
Raith started the second half like they did the first with Richards-Everton cleared and Hutton holding the early threats. Then in 48 minutes McHattie drove the ball into Callachan and Moffat was allowed a pop at goal but he sent the ball wide left. At the other end Jordan Thompson set up Callachan for a shot that Hutton saved.
There were appeals from the home crowd for a 51st minute penalty after McManus went down in the box. McHattie had driven the ball low into the Pars box, Ashcroft did not get enough on his clearance and the striker was kept at bay by Richards-Everton before landing on the ground.
Play switched to the other end Ryan Williamson bore in from the right and released a low shot that was tipped around his right hand post by Lennox. Two corners ensued but from the second, McManus ran out of defence and with Williamson in chase released a 30 yard shot on target but Hutton did well to take the stinging shot.
Suffering from a hamstring injury, the Rovers keeper clearly could not take kicks but there was nothing wrong with his stopping capabilities with Higginbotham seeing his powerful shot taken low by Lennox. On the hour Barr sent a dangerous ball through the Pars box and then three minutes later there was a wobble when Williamson was forced into giving away a corner. Higginbotham got that away
Higginbotham showed fantastic powers of recovery to win the ball just inside his own half and then send an inviting ball for sub David Hopkirk to run on to. Two more Dunfermline corners but still no breakthrough. Hopkirk came close before play stopped for treatment to the keeper. Reflecting the Pars dominance, Rovers were wasting much time with the delays to taking bye kicks.
On the right side of his penalty area, Martin made a fine tackle on McManus in 70th minute but the home side were to find a route to goal the following minute. The ball was played in from the right and BARR managed to release a shot from the edge of the box that squeezed past Hutton at his near post. 1-0
Hutton next held a drive from McHattie and from a 76th minute corner sub Rudi Skacel drove the ball narrowly wide left. Both teams threw on a sub each with Michael Paton replacing Rhys McCabe and Mark STEWART coming on for Lewis Vaughan. The Rovers striker had barely been on the pitch two minutes when he controlled the ball on the top of the Pars D and whacked away a shot that bulged the net. 2-0
Dunfermline continued to win corners, Williamson continued to get up the right but in the end it had been a harsh lesson in how to take chances. Raith made it three wins out of three and stay top of the league. For the 2519 travelling supporters it had been a disappointing journey.
Raith`s towering centre back Jean-Yves M`voto was named Man of the Match. The performance of the 27 year old who arrived at Starks Park from Polish second tier side WKS Zawisza Bydgoszcz SA suppressed the Pars efforts and his award was certainly warranted.
RAITH ROVERS: Aaron Lennox: Jason Thomson, Jean Yves-Mvoto, Kyle Benedictus, Kevin McHattie: Ross Matthews, Ross Callachan, Jordan Thompson (Rudi Skacel 69), Bobby Barr: Lewis Vaughan (Mark Stewart 77), Declan McManus (Scott Roberts 90)
SUBS NOT USED: Yaw Osei, Joel Coustrain, Chris Johnston, Kevin Cuthbert (GK)
SCORERS: Barr (71), Stewart (79)
YELLOW CARD: Matthews (24), Thompson (30), Skacel (74)
DUNFERMLINE: David Hutton: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft, Ben Richards-Everton, Lewis Martin (Jason Talbot 80): Rhys McCabe (Michael Paton 77), Andy Geggan (c), Kallum Higginbotham, Joe Cardle: Michael Moffat (David Hopkirk 60), Gavin Reilly.
SUBS NOT USED: Paul McMullan, Callum Fordyce, Lewis Spence, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (25), Richards-Everton (34), Geggan (40)
REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Showery 17C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Queen of the South
Saturday 27th August 2016, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm