Raith humbled in pre-season mismatch

Michael Coulson's free-kick finds a way past Ross Laidlaw to put York 1-0 up at Stark's Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Michael Coulson's free-kick finds a way past Ross Laidlaw to put York 1-0 up at Stark's Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 0 York City 4

You cannot judge a team on a pre-season friendly.

Which is probably the only comfort Raith can take from Tuesday’s horror show against impressive English League Two side York City.

Rovers were boosted by centre-back Paul Watson’s first appearance of pre-season and the return of Mark Stewart from injury. There was also a late substitute appearance for long-serving goalkeeper David McGurn, who got the biggest cheer of the night as he stepped onto the park for the first time since rupturing his achilles in October. Those were, however, the only positives Raith could take as they were well beaten by a far superior side, both individually and collectively.

While it was a humbling night for the Kirkcaldy men it was only a pre-season friendly, and should be viewed in context. York may play in England’s fourth tier, but their resources would embarrass most Scottish Championship clubs (with the exception of this season’s big three). The Mistermen are staying at Airth Castle and training at Stirling Uni during their pre-season tour of Scotland - and that won’t come cheap! In Nigel Worthington they also employ a former English Premiership manager.

This mismatch off the pitch was certainly reflected on it, although Rovers should have been able to make a game of it, and the lack of chemistry on the pitch, and depth on the bench, is concerning with the season just over a week away.

There was an early chance for Raith - Stewart’s cross found Calum Elliot six yards out but the striker put his header straight at the ‘keeper. The Raith striker must do better in this situation.

That was as good as it got for the home side as York raced into a 3-0 lead by half-time, with a little help from Raith’s ragged defending. Goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw was culpable for the first goal in the fifth minute. His sliced clearance resulted in Watson conceding a foul on the edge of the box, then the ‘keeper let Michael Coulson’s well struck free-kick bounce straight through his hands.

The ‘keeper was powerless to prevent York’s second goal in the 24th minute as poor marking from a corner kick allowed Dave Winfield to power home a header. A combination of more shambolic defending and incisive attacking play led to City’s third goal in the 36th minute.

Centre-backs Ellis and Watson were pulled apart by the movement of the front two as Anthony Straker burst through a huge gap, swapped passes with Ryan Jarvis, then slotted home from close range.

York made several subs early in the second half but the pattern continued as former Dundee and Dunfermline striker, Jake Hyde, scored the visitors’ fourth in the 64th minute, cracking home a beauty from 25 yards.

York hit the woodwork twice in the closing stages and also went close on several other occasions as they threated to do Raith as Germany did to Brazil. You can’t read too much into friendlies but based on this showing, Raith have plenty still to work on.

raith: Laidlaw (McGurn 80), Thomson, McKeown, Watson, Ellis, Fox, Stewart (Anderson 63), Callachan, Nade, Elliot (Vaughan 71), Conroy. Not used: Bates, Matthews, Court, Trialist, Trialist, Law.

York City: Mooney, McCoy, Ilesanmi, Coulson, Summerfield, Penn (Montrose 45), Jarvis (Hyde 59), Straker (Murray 62), Lowe (McCombe 59), Winfield (Platt 62), Meikle.

Referee: John Beaton

Attendance: 868