Raith relinquish cup at first hurdle

Christian Nade threatens the Dunfermline goal in a rare Raith attack. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Christian Nade threatens the Dunfermline goal in a rare Raith attack. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Dunfermline Athletic 1 Raith Rovers 0

Raith Rovers surrendered their Petrofac Training Challenge Cup trophy with a dire derby performance at East End Park on Tuesday.

The holders crashed out at the first hurdle, and deservedly so, as they were second best in almost every department to their lower league rivals.

Ross Millen’s stunning strike eight minutes from time put the seal on a dominant Pars performance, and left Raith boss Grant Murray to feel the wrath of Rovers fans, some of whom chanted against him at full-time.

An over-reaction to a bad night? Perhaps. The league hasn’t even started yet and there are eight new signings bedding in.

There were also five key players missing through injury and suspenison. Had Hill, Moon, Barr, Anderson and Elliot all been available it might have made a difference.

But on the back of the dreadful run last season, the tolerance level of the Raith support is very low. The fans want to see improvements - and rightly so - but Tuesday’s display only served to fuel the opinion that the current regime is not up to it.

While the Pars had a clear structure and fluidity to their play, Rovers were fractured in their shape, clueless in possession, and relied more on the opposition’s mistakes than any of their own invention. In midfield, Rovers were simply outclassed.

On the few occasions that the ball was played into Nade’s feet the big striker caused Dunfermline’s defence problems.

He fashioned a great chance for himself in the first minute of the second half, forcing goalkeeper Ryan Scully into a great block after turning his way through the home defence.

That was Scully’s only real save of the night, however, as for most of the 90 minutes Rovers were subjected to a Pars pounding.

Only some superb last-ditch defending from Jason Thomson - one of the few Raith players to put in a performance to be proud of - and some smart saves from Kevin Cuthbert prevented the home side from scoring before they did.

The 82nd minute winner was worthy of winning any match as Millen stepped up from right back to curl a 20-yard beauty into the postage stamp corner.

It was no less than the Pars deserved. Based on this display they look a sure bet for the League One championship.

If this is a sign of things to come for Raith, a long and difficult season beckons.

Dunfermline: Scully, Millen, Martin, Buchanan, Drummond, Byrne (Thomson 87), Geggan, Spence, Falkingham, El Bakhtaoui (Ugwu 88), Moffat. Not used: Wallace, Forbes, Page, Williamson, Goodfellow (GK).

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, Watson, Perry, McKeown, Stewart, Fox (Callachan 78), Scott, Conroy, Vaughan, Nade. Not used: Ellis, McCroary, Robertson, Matthews, Bates, Laidlaw.

Referee: Alan Muir

Attendance: 4230