Another goalless draw for uninspired Rovers

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Dumbarton 0 Raith Rovers 0

A fixture that normally guarantees goals ended in Raith Rovers' third goalless draw in five games.

After 68 goals in the previous 17 meetings, it came as a surprise that neither side was able to find the net on a frustrating afternoon at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.

Rather than following tradition, the match reflected recent form as Raith defended strongly to earn a point, but sorely lacked the cutting edge up front to claim all three.

In fact, the home side would have been more deserving winners after creating the best chances in a scrappy encounter.

Rovers fielded the same 11 that started the Fife derby a fortnight earlier - and they produced a similar performance.

There was a lack of chemistry up front as the strikers Mark Stewart and Declan McManus struggled to link-up with the midfield, and each other, while down the right, attacking productivity was sacrificed for defensive grit as midfielder Ross Matthews was once again paired with stay-at-home full back Iain Davidson.

Rovers best moments came in the opening quarter when, with sharper finishing, they may have taken the lead and in the final quarter when sub Joel Coustrain, making his first appearance since September, provided a much-needed spark.

Raith were first to threaten inside two minutes when Matthews' near post cross was turned into the side net by McManus.

The hosts had a chance on 11 minutes when a blocked effort broke to Robert Thomson in space 18 yards out but he blazed over.

A minute later, Chris Johnston cut in from the wing to feed Stewart in the box, but with just the 'keeper to beat, the striker shot tamely at Alan Martin.

The game was end-to-end and Dumbarton were inches away from the opener on 16 minutes as they found plenty of space on the edge of the Raith box and Sam Stanton's deflected effort dipped just over the bar.

The Sons were almost gifted the opener three minutes later when Jean-Yves M'voto misjudged a high ball to let Thomson through on goal, who rounded Kevin Cuthbert and seemed to certain to score, but M'voto recovered superbly to make a goal-saving interception.

At the other end, another Matthews cross found McManus unmarked eight yards out - a clear scoring chance - but the forward choked his shot allowing Martin to save easily.

It had been a frantic opening 20 minutes but the teams couldn't maintain it and the pace dropped towards half-time.

There was one more opening for Raith before the break when a superb 50 yard cross-field pass from Kevin McHattie put McManus in behind the home defence but the striker failed to control it and the ball ran through to a grateful 'keeper.

Dumbarton took a firm grip on the game after the break and for a half hour spell there was only one team in it.

On 52 minutes, the Raith defence backed off allowing Thomson a shot from 20-yards which forced an awkward save from Cuthbert, who seemed to dive too early but managed to block with his legs.

Another chance for Dumbarton on 63 minutes saw livewire Donald McCallum peel away from Kyle Benedictus to fire a shot on the angle that Cuthbert managed to turn behind for a corner, from which the Raith keeper had to look alert to catch a powerful Gregor Buchanan header.

It was a difficult spell for Rovers as they struggled to retain possession and only a huge one-on-one save from Cuthbert prevented them falling behind.

Davidson was caught too deep playing both Dumbarton strikers onside but the 'keeper came to the rescue to save superbly at the feet of Thomson.

Boss Gary Locke had seen enough and opted for two changes in five minutes, firstly removing Jordan Thompson for Scott Roberts, before replacing Johnston with Coustrain, and Rovers started to creep back into the game, but not before Stanton curled a 22-yard effort narrowly wide.

Raith's best moment of the second half came with nine minutes left as a brilliant run from Coustrain saw him feed McManus, who rode a tackle to drive into box and fired in a dangerous low cross that was parried to safety by Martin.

Lewis Vaughan arrived in place of Stewart on 87 minutes - too late to make any meaningful impact - and there was a nervy moment for Rovers in injury time when a David Smith cross clipped the crossbar on its way over.

Rovers need to find style to go with the substance of recent displays and Coustrain's impressive late cameo will have given Locke food for thought ahead of the visit of Ayr United on Tuesday, where a victory would take Rovers back up to third in the table.

Dumbarton: Martin, Docherty, Buchanan, Stevenson, Todd, Thomson (Fleming 73), Stanton, Harvie, Barr, McCallum (Stirling 83), Smith. Not used: Ewings, Pettigrew, Lyden.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Davidson, McHattie, M'voto, Benedictus, Callachan, Matthews, Thompson (Roberts 64), McManus, Stewart (Vaughan 87), Johnston (Coustrain 72). Not used: Lennox, Skacel, Crawford, Osei.

Referee: Alan Muir

Attendance: 600