RAITH ROVERS 3–0 COVE RANGERS
After the euphoria of the back-to-back wins over Arbroath and Dundee, the boys were brought crashing back down to earth again with a thumping defeat. Connolly and Gullan had Raith two-nil up and cruising in the first half, with Stanton putting the seal on the victory midway through the second.
There was just one enforced change to the Cove Rangers line-up, Scott Ross deputising for the stricken Kyle McClelland. Fraser Fyvie and Jamie Masson were still sidelined with hamstring and rib injuries respectively.
After a scrappy start in blustery conditions, Raith were first to make inroads, Ngwenya winning a corner off Luis Longstaff. Luis then smuggled the resultant delivery out of the box to launch a swift Cove counter, Gilmour setting Dunne free down the right. Cieran’s cross found Yule, who laid the ball off to Scully, but his pass was intercepted, Millen chesting it back to keeper MacDonald.
Then, out of the blue, Rovers took the lead, and it was entirely self-inflicted. Jack Sanders lost control just outside the box, and Aidan CONNOLLY gathered, raced in on goal, and finished low past Kyle Gourlay.
The home side’s tails were up, and it took a series of blocks inside the box to prevent them doubling their advantage, with Ross and Sanders putting their bodies on the line.
One-nil up, Raith were looking the more composed side on the ball, and after a fine sweeping move, Gullan’s shot from the edge of the box was taken comfortably by Gourlay.
Kyle had to make a much better save seconds later, Millen’s cross from the right finding Gullan free at the back post, and his powerful header was turned behind for a corner. Then Connolly found space and sent in an inviting cross from the left, Ngwenya’s diving header flying wide of the upright.
Then came what might have been a huge turning point in the match.
Scott Ross sent a long free kick from inside his own half up towards Longstaff, who nodded the ball into the path of Megginson. As Mitch turned in the box, ready to fashion an opportunity, Liam Dick came through from behind and upended him, for what looked like a clear penalty. Referee Dickinson simply dismissed the claims.
There was no real conviction in our forays forward, and the players were struggling to make chances. In the next attack, Scully laid to ball out to Logan, who switched play looking for Johnson, but Ngwenya got their first, booting the ball clean out of the stadium.
Back came Raith, and Sanders did well to block a powerful Connolly volley deep inside the box.
It was to be a brief reprieve. Rovers were awarded a free-kick twenty yards out, and Jamie GULLAN curled the ball into the top corner, giving Gourlay no chance.
Spencer then gave the ball away, Scully gathering and sending the ball wide to Dunne. His cross was returned by Johnson to Longstaff, and as Luis attempted to dart between two defenders, he was bundled to the ground for what looked like another penalty. Again, the referee waved play on.
The home side were quickly back up the park, and after a flowing move, Gourlay had to race off his line to deny Brown. Cove looked to counter, and Brown was then booked for hauling down Mitch Megginson ten yards inside the Raith half.
Scott Ross had a powerful twenty-yard volley blocked, and as the ball deflected high into the air, Dick headed over his own bar to concede a corner, which came to nothing.
Cieran Dunne then had a strong run, weaving past three defenders, but his pass forward failed to find Megginson.
Jim McIntyre made one change at the interval. Max Johnston looked to have picked up a groin injury when slipping shortly before the break, and was replaced by Evan Towler, who went to left back, with Logan moving across to his more familiar side.
With the sun streaming across the pitch, and a few players seeming to find the surface troublesome, it was a quiet start to the second half, neither side getting any real possession or control.
Cove made another substitution in the fifty-fourth minute, Leighton McIntosh taking over from Dunne, and the boys finally offered something going forward, Longstaff showing trickery to wriggle past a couple of defenders before sending in a dangerous cross which MacDonald did well to punch to safety.
McIntosh got involved for the first time, driving infield, and feeding Yule, and as Blair flicked the ball on towards Megginson, he looked to have been taken out. Again, referee Dickinson was unmoved.
Raith had shown nothing since the resumption in play, but in the sixty-fifth minute, they effectively killed the game as a contest. Spencer and Connolly were heavily involved in the build-up, and as the ball bobbled around inside the box, taking a couple of deflections, it fell to Sam STANTON who drilled his close-range shot beyond Gourlay.
The manager then withdrew Charlie Gilmour, throwing McDonagh on up alongside Mitch Megginson in a bid to offer more of an attacking threat.
The side did just that in the 80th minute when Gerry nodded the ball on, and Yule fed Megginson. Mitch raced clear, and as he rounded MacDonald, tumbled to the ground, the referee booking the captain for diving.
The game petered out after that, Cove’s only other attacks of note seeing a long range free kick fired high over the bar by Logan, and a curling effort from the angle of the box by Megginson which just missed the top corner.
Rovers had one last opportunity, their towering new signing John Frederiksen blasting straight at Gourlay when free in the box.
Overall, a hugely disappointing performance from the boys which puts an end to the recent unbeaten league run.
RAITH ROVERS (4-2-3-1): MacDonald; Millen, O’Riordan, Dick, Ngwenya; Brown (c), Spencer (Matthews 70); Connolly, Stanton, Ross (Frederiksen 75); Gullan (Easton 85)
Substitutes: Thomson, McBride, Connell, Coulson, Masson,
Goalscorers: Connolly (6), Gullan (27), Stanton (65)
Booked: Brown (37), Millen (81)
COVE RANGERS (4-3-3): Gourlay; Johnston, (Towler 46), Sanders, Ross, Logan; Yule, Gilmour (McDonagh 70) Scully; Longstaff, Megginson (c), Dunne (McIntosh 54)
Substitutes: McKenzie, Neill, Vigurs, Leitch, Reynolds
Booked: Gilmour (39), Megginson (80)
Referee: David Dickinson
Article Copyright © 2022. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and to www.coverangersfc.com