Fife Cup v Raith Rovers


Attendance: 524, Kick Off: 7.45pm.

Referee: David McGeachie


Fife Cup matches have often been played between teams of younger players in recent years, but both managers fielded strong sides for this semi-final tie.  Admittedly the Pars team had nobody from Saturday`s SPL starting line-up either in the side or on the bench, but, with the exception of Ross Millen at right back, this was a team of seasoned professionals, all hopeful of becoming regulars for Jim McIntyre this season.

Craig Easton made his Dunfermline debut wearing the no 10 shirt and Nick Phinn made a first start back after injury.  For Raith Rovers, it was near enough the squad that lost 2-1 to Ayr United last Saturday, the most notable exception being prolific striker John Baird who started with a place on the bench.

Gerry McCabe was in the Pars dugout while manager Jim McIntyre watched this one from the stand as Raith Rovers kicked off in the evening sunshine towards the Norrie McCathie Stand. In just the second minute Rovers caused concern as a free kick from the right was moved to Hamill who swung over a cross deep into the Dunfermline penalty area.  The towering Brian Graham headed powerfully goalwards only to see Smith produce a point blank save and tip the ball over his crossbar.  However Graham was ruled offside so panic over.

Dunfermline`s first attempt came in the fourth minute. A Buchanan lay off to Millen on the right saw the youngster put in a useful cross that was only half-cleared by Laidlaw`s punch to Phinn.Nicky snatched at the shot and it went harmlessly wide.Dunfermline`s midfield and forwards were pressing the Raith defence and Ryan Thomson almost stole the ball on the edge of the Rovers penalty box.In the next minute Millen`s deflected ball down the right channel gave Buchanan space at the edge of the box.Liam`s powerful shot was beaten out by Laidlaw as Jim McIntyre`s men were in the ascendancy.

There was plenty of energy and some good passing movements but little of quality in the final quarter until 14 minutes into the game. Dunfermline once again exploited the area down their right.  A Buchanan back heel near the corner flag allowed Willis to power in a low cross which Ryan Thomson volleyed crisply from 8 yards out onto the cross bar.

Raith had their first attack for a while when Boyle`s slip allowed Graham some freedom but Rutkiewicz was on hand to clear.  From the throw in, Raith got a shot that Potter blocked for a corner from which Hill headed well over.  The Dunfermline defence were getting busier and Rutkiewicz was called on twice to clear the lines.  Midway through the first half the tireless Buchanan laid off a pass to Thomson on the edge of the box.His shot was blocked and Willis sent the return over the bar.

After just 26 minutes Nick Phinn left the field to be replaced by Pat Clarke.Then seven minutes later one of Dunfermline`s best moves, courtesy of a run by McDougall, allowed Paul Willis to take on the Raith defence before curling a left foot drive which Laidlaw did well to turn around his post for a Pars corner.Another followed quickly after but neither gave Dunfermline the opening they were looking for.

Just before half-time Steven McDougall went down injured to be replaced by Shaun Byrne.  Despite a lot of effort from both teams, attempts at goal had been few and far between in a period that Dunfermline had just shaded.

Half-Time: Dunfermline Athletic 0 Raith Rovers 0

The second half started in much the same pattern. Five minutes into the second half and Raith won the first corner of the half, but the resulting header flew harmlessly wide.Five minutes later and it was Dunfermline`s chance to have a promising move after Boyle released Clarke down the left.  Unfortunately the move fizzled out at the edge of the box when Clarke and Buchanan got into a tangle.  Ellis had to look lively two minutes later when Clarke`s head on nearly gave Buchanan sight of goal.

At this stage Dunfermline were back in the driving seat with new signing Craig Easton creating some good moves from the middle of the park.Willis and Thomson both had efforts on goal, but it was at the other end that the best opportunity occurred.  Reynolds charged down Potter`s  

Then in 73 minutes the woodwork came to Raith`s rescue again.  Thomson slipped the ball to Buchanan and from 25 yards out in front of goal, Liam hit a rasping drive that clattered off the crossbar and over.

John McGlynn wasted no time in bringing on Baird and Walker for Reynolds and Callachan, and the pace of the game visibly quickened.  Two good chances fell to Paul Willis - the first after a mistake in the Rovers defence saw Paul shoot wide, and then two minutes later the Pars winger cut in from the left to fire in a curling shot which Laidlaw did well to keep out.

Then, just as everyone wondered what happened when the teams finished level after 90 minutes, the Pars defence, which had looked comfortable for most of the night, was breached.  A flowing left to right move from Raith saw Ross Millen concede a last minute corner.  Hamill`s hard hit set piece saw GRAHAM unmarked at the back post and the big striker had the easiest header to score the only goal of the game.

For the second midweek in succession Dunfermline were eliminated from a Cup competition by one of their Fife rivals.  This time, however, the pain was less. Players who were returning from injury and those who have seen little first team football matched Raith for the ninety minutes, although the lack of chances created would have disappointed the manager. 

Dunfermline`s midfield looked solid with Ryan Thomson showing strength and skill, and Paul Willis unlucky not to convert one of his chances.  The bonus for manager Jim McIntyre is that new signing Craig Easton showed the kind of energy and neat football that could propel him quickly into contention for a first team place.

DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC: Chris Smith, Ross Millen, Paddy Boyle, Ryan Thomson, Kevin Rutkiewicz, John Potter, Paul Willis, Nick Phinn (Pat Clarke, 26), Liam Buchanan, Craig Easton, Steven McDougall (Shaun Byrne, 44).
SUBS NOT USED: Steven Mayne (GK), Kerr Young, Ross Drummond.

RAITH ROVERS: Ross Laidlaw, Grant Murray, Willie Dyer, Lawrie Ellis, Dougie Hill, Ross Callachan (Allan Walker, 73), Andrew Walls (Iain Williamson, 65), Daniel Thomson, Stephen Reynolds (John Baird, 73) , Brian Graham, Joe Hamill.
SUBS NOT USED: David McGurn (GK), Colin Wilson.

NEXT MATCH: (away) SPL v Kilmarnock
Saturday 10th September 2011, kick off 3.00pm

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