Late strike earns Raith cup replay

4512025 SSFF airdrie raith 'Allan Walker watches as Simon Mensing tries to return the ball into the box -  Airdrie United against Raith Rovers at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
4512025 SSFF airdrie raith 'Allan Walker watches as Simon Mensing tries to return the ball into the box - Airdrie United against Raith Rovers at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
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RAITH Rovers striker Greig Spence was the Scottish Cup hero on Saturday as his injury time equaliser kept the Kirkcaldy side in the Scottish Cup.

His 92nd minute strike sealed a 2-2 draw for the 10 men after strike partner Brian Graham was red carded for violent conduct early in the second half.

Spence said: “When you lose a man you’re up against it and with a few minutes left we were out the cup, but we managed to stick with each other, battle away and get the goal.

“I missed a few chances earlier on that I’d usually put away, but I knew I just had to keep going until the final whistle, and if another chance came my way, bury it.

“We’ve not been beaten at home this season so hopefully we can keep that up in the replay and get into the next round.”

Spence’s goal came after a tireless second half shift as a lone striker.

He added: “I’d taken a few challenges in the first half and my ankle was a bit sore, but you train all week for games like that, when you have to dig in and use all your fitness. I’m tired but I’ll recover.”

Raith started on the front foot and took a deserved lead in the 13th minute when Spence crossed for Graham, whose cushioned knock-down was volleyed home by Simon Mensing.

The home side levelled in the 28th minute when left back Gavin Griffin sent a sweetly struck volley beyond Ross Laidlaw, who was deputising for the injured David McGurn.

Graham was ordered off two minutes after the break for an alleged off-the-ball elbow, and Airdrie’s breakthrough came with 13 minutes left when defender Jason Thomson headed a Michael Hart cross into his own net.

Raith’s hopes of being in the fourth round draw seemed to be over when Allan Walker’s stunning 25-yard effort struck the post in the 89th minute.

However, in the last attack of the game, substitute Grant Anderson raced down the right wing and crossed for Spence to slide home the equaliser from close range.

Raith boss Grant Murray was delighted with his team’s fighting spirit, but disappointed with Graham’s red card.

He said: “It was disappointing to lose a man the way we did – you can’t get away it.

“I didn’t see it, but he’s been sent off for violent conduct, and he’s let himself and the team down.

“But the boys have bounced back brilliantly. It looked like we were out the cup, but we showed great fighting spirit to get the late goal that keeps us in it.”

The replay will take place on Tuesday, November 13, at Stark’s Park, kick-off 7.45 p.m, with the winner set to face Highland League side Deveronvale at home in the fourth round.