Shots on target
Skipper Mitch Megginson delivered the two goals that secured victory on yet another historic day for Cove Rangers.
Megginson netted in each half as we won our first ever match at cinch Championship level against full-time Rovers, and there could be no doubting the three points were richly deserved.
It was initially far from plain sailing, Cove had to defend doggedly for spells; Raith hit the woodwork twice and keeper Kyle Gourlay also did his bit with a top drawer save just before the interval.
But as soon as Megginson made it two there looked to be only one winner, and the Cove players received a deserved standing ovation from the majority of the bumper 1,138 crowd at the end of a day which saw the club sitting proudly at the top of the Championship table.
The afternoon began with Raith sportingly forming a guard of honour as the Cove players took to the pitch, acknowledging the League One triumph last term.
That was followed by vice-chairman Graeme Reid carrying the League One champions trophy on to the pitch, before raising the flag that will fly over Balmoral Stadium this season.
Once all the pomp and ceremony was past, it was down to what was a thoroughly engrossing ninety minutes for both sets of supporters.
Raith created the first chance, when Sam Stanton broke down the left in the third minute and crossed for Jamie Gullan to poke the ball wide from eight yards.
Cove had a penalty appeal turned away a minute later, after Megginson appeared to be shoved in the back by Scott Brown.
We went ahead in the eighth minute thanks to a well worked corner routine that the players had perfected during training in midweek.
Fraser Fyvie fired the ball over from the right into the Raith penalty area.
Scott Ross cleverly chipped it forward for MEGGINSON to net with a well-placed header from inside the six yard box.
Raith responded with Liam Dick crossing from the left for Kyle Connell to hit ten-yard shot that was easily gathered by Gourlay.
Keeper Gourlay also held a powerful left foot drive from Dick in the 15th minute.
Raith threatened again when Ethan Ross played a short corner to Dylan Easton, then latched on to the return pass. The former Aberdeen winger crossed low to Ryan Nolan whose twelve-yard shot was off target.
Easton also saw his effort deflect wide off Mark Reynolds as the visitors maintained the pressure.
A careless pass out from defence by Shay Logan presented Raith with their next opportunity, in the twenty-fifth minute.
Stanton latched on to the ball, but fired his twenty-yard shot wide of Gourlay’s left post.
We were unlucky not to go two up in the 38th minute.
Ross played a delightful long free kick from inside his own half over the Raith defence and Iain Vigurs raced in to send a first time volley over the bar from the edge of the area.
Raith might have drawn level a minute later, when a powerful shot from Easton rebounded to safety off the face of the Cove crossbar.
Ross was booked for a foul on Connell just before the half ended with a wonderful save from Gourlay, which kept Cove ahead.
Aiden Connolly’s effort from the edge of the area looked to be heading for the top corner until Gourlay dived to his right to acrobatically tip the ball over his crossbar.
Cove almost made the perfect start to the second period.
Logan’s cross from the right reached Leighton McIntosh and he was unfortunate to see his fourteen-yard header creep over the crossbar.
The joy for the Cove fans was only delayed briefly, as it became 2-0 in the 50th minute.
Ross played a free kick forward from halfway, which was followed by some clever inter-passing between Vigurs and Fyvie, leaving MEGGINSON with the happy task of lashing home a shot, on the turn, from around the penalty spot.
Fyvie was cautioned in the 57th minute, for tripping Raith’s Ross just inside the visitors’ half.
Cove were well on top now, and Megginson wasn’t too far from claiming his hat-trick in the 62nd minute, when his header from Logan’s cross bounced wide.
Raith broke forward midway through the half, but Gourlay was again well positioned to grab Connell’s low shot from the edge of the area.
Robbie Leitch missed a glorious chance to put us further ahead in the 68th minute.
Poor control from Dick allowed the midfielder in on goal and Leitch managed to nudge his shot past advancing Raith keeper Jamie McDonald, but the ball trundled agonisingly wide of the post.
Scott Ross was given a deserved ovation when he limped off to be replaced by Morgyn Neill with twenty minutes to go.
Jamie Masson came on for McIntosh and immediately tested McDonald with a powerful twenty-yard effort. Masson then got on to the end of a through pass from Fyvie, but his shot lacked power and was gathered by McDonald.
Gerry McDonagh came on for the injured Leitch in the 77th minute.
Reynolds was booked in the 80th minute for fouling Ross before Raith sub Dario Zanatta rattled Gourlay’s right post with a deflected long distance shot.
Almost immediately, the Cove keeper dived low to hold a powerful shot from Brown.
Dick received a yellow card for fouling Fyvie with five minutes to go, and Megginson was also harshly booked in the last minute.
The match ended with Connolly firing a nineteen-yard shot wide of Gourlay’s right post, but it was Cove’s day, and the players left the pitch to well-deserved acclaim.
COVE RANGERS (4-1-4-1): Gourlay; Logan, Ross (Neill 70), Reynolds, Towler; Scully; Leitch (McDonagh 77), Fyvie Vigurs, McIntosh (Masson 71); Megginson
Substitutes: McKenzie, Thomas.
Goalscorers: Megginson (8, 50 mins)
Booked: Ross, Reynolds, Fyvie, Megginson
RAITH ROVERS (4-1-3-2): McDonald; Millen (Zanatta 62), Brown, Nolan, Dick; Stanton; Connolly, Easton (Coulson 84), Ross; Gullan, Connell (Mitchell 75),
Subs: Ngwenya, Thomson, Mahady, Arnott, Young, Masson.
Booked: Dick, Easton
Referee: Matthew MacDermid
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Photos by Stephen Dobson