Raith hit top spot after demolition derby

Lewis Vaughan celebrates after putting Raith 5-0 up. Pic: George McLuskie
Lewis Vaughan celebrates after putting Raith 5-0 up. Pic: George McLuskie

East Fife 0 Raith Rovers 5

Raith Rovers stormed to the top of League One with a derby demolition of East Fife at Bayview this afternoon.

The impressive 5-0 victory, coupled with Ayr United's defeat at home to Arbroath, sent the Kirkcaldy side a point clear at the top of the table.

Rovers' unbeaten record against their Methil rivals stretches back to 1988 and there was never any danger of that run being broken in a completely one-sided contest.

In fact, the only statistic in danger was the record score in the fixture - a 7-1 win for Raith in 1987 - as the away side had enough chances to hit double figures.

The Fife defence simply could not cope with the pace and movement of Raith's front four, who all got on the scoresheet, but it was the overall team performance that stood out more than any individual display, with everyone working hard for each other.

Raith first team coach Kevin Cuthbert spoke to the press after the game and hailed a near perfect performance.

"At times we were outstanding," he said. "Some of the play going forward, the movement, and the work in training was evident.

"The striker's will get the headlines but it's the whole team and everyone is in it together to achieve something for this club this season.

"The organisation we've got, and some of the football we played, I think the Raith supporters can be proud of the team.

"It's a long season, and all we're focused on is continuing the momentum we've got just now.

"We don't think we're the finished article, because we feel there's more to come."

Manager Barry Smith made one change from win over Forfar last week, handing a debut to goalkeeper Graeme Smith, who signed in midweek, with youngster Rory Brian dropping to the bench.

It took Raith just four minutes to make the breakthrough as Kevin McHattie surged down the left and his cross found its way to Bobby Barr at the back post, whose shot just managed to squirm over the line as goalkeeper Ryan Goodfellow scrambled to keep it out.

It was Barr's first goal of the campaign and just reward for the number of assists he's laid on for his team mates in the last few weeks.

It was 2-0 after 19 minutes when Barr returned to his role as creator with a superb run and cross that found Lewis Vaughan unmarked six yards out to head home.

Vaughan has now scored in eight consecutive matches - a fantastic run that shows no sign of stopping.

What makes his goal return even more impressive is that he is playing mostly on the left of midfield and is not shirking his defensive responsibilities.

Indeed, it was he who prevented East Fife from getting back into the game on 28 minutes when he cleared Ben Gordon's header off the line.

At the other end, the home defence were being ripped to shreds, and in a 10-minute spell, Liam Buchanan could have had a hat-trick.

Three times he was one-on-one with Goodfellow but the striker was unable to take the opportunities, with the sticky astroturf pitch appearing to blame for at least one as the ball held up and got stuck between his feet.

Raith's third goal finally arrived six minutes before half-time as Greig Spence evaded his markers to send a diving header past Goodfellow from Jason Thomson's cross.

With Rovers finding space with ease, and looking capable of scoring at will, the interval brought some much-needed relief to the East Fife defence.

And while the tempo slowed somewhat in the second half, Raith remained dominant.

Buchanan finally got his goal on 68 minutes, and just in the nick of time before being replaced, as he glanced home Kevin McHattie's free-kick at the front post.

That was the cue for home fans to pour towards the exit, as Rovers big travelling support glorified in their team's majestic performance.

With the points secured, Spence and Buchanan were taken off, replaced by Ross Matthews and Yaw Osei.

Vaughan made it five on 80 minutes, latching onto a clever dummy from Scott Robertson to leave him with a clear sight of goal - an opportunity he was not about to pass up as he slotted home his 10th goal of the campaign, before being replaced by Jonny Court.

The full-time whistle brought one of the most enjoyable Raith performances in recent years to a satisfying conclusion.

And just to cap things off, Ayr's defeat meant Raith climbed to the top of the table, and while it is still far too early to be significant, it is nonetheless a welcome boost ahead of the Honest Men's visit to Stark's Park in two weeks time.

East Fife: Goodfellow, Dunsmore, Docherty, Watson, Duggan (Linton 71), Wilkie, Hurst, Millar, Gordon, Flanagan (Slattery 55), Willis (Lamont 71). Not used: Cordery, Reilly, Kane, Wilson.

Raith Rovers: Smith, Thomson, McHattie, Benedictus, Davidson, Callachan, Robertson, Vaughan (Court 81), Spence (Osei 71), Buchanan (Matthews 71), Barr. Not used: Brian, McKay, Berry, Bell.

Referee: Craig Napier

Attendance: 1850