Connor McBride opens account for Raith Rovers against Cove Rangers to secure progress in SPFL Trust Trophy
That was the Kirkcaldy team’s first victory against the Aberdonians for six years after losing their preceding three games against them, including their first game of the current Scottish Championship season.
McBride’s match-winner at Aberdeen’s Balmoral Stadium, his first since arriving at Stark’s Park from Lancashire’s Blackburn Rovers at the beginning of this month, was set up by a run upfield by Kieran Ngwenya, followed by a low cross into the box by Quinn Coulson. The 21-year-old was also assisted in shooting past home goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie from eight yards out by a deflection off Morgyn Neill.
Rovers had an opportunity to double their lead from a free-kick on 26 minutes but Ethan Ross was denied by the woodwork and the midfielder had another shot saved by McKenzie just ahead of half-time.
Luis Longstaff got the ball in the net for Cove after the interval but it was chalked off by an offside call and Neill had a header cleared off the line as the hosts sought an equaliser that never came.
Further chances for Rovers fell to Ngwenya and Kyle Connell but neither was able to make them count.
Rovers manager Ian Murray was delighted to see his side stay on course to retain the trophy they won in April, telling Raith TV afterwards: “I’m really glad to be in the next round of the cup.
“It was a very difficult game against a really good, well-organised side. To come away and keep a clean sheet and to play okay in the game was good.
“It’s about building a winning mentality regardless of who you’re playing, where you’re playing and what you’re playing in.
“It wasn’t the be-all and end-all for us, but we had to show respect for the competition and the fans who’d paid money to come and watch us and give it our all, and I felt the players once again gave absolutely everything on the pitch, worked incredibly hard and showed, at times, a little bit of quality.”It was really good. At that point, Brad
Murray was also pleased to see Falkirk-born McBride open his account for Raith, saying: “It was a really good run and good move for the goal, probably one of the few bits of quality in the first half from either side.
“It was a really well-worked goal getting down the left-hand side and Kieran did really well driving forward.
“It was a good front-post run by Connor. He got a little bit of luck with the deflection, but if you don’t shoot, you don’t score, so I’m delighted for him.”
Also pleasing for Murray was club captain Ross Matthews’ return to action after being out injured for months, coming on as an 81st-minute substitute for Brad Spencer.
“It was really good. At that point, Brad was getting a little bit tired and feeling a little bit of cramp in his legs, so our strength in depth is coming back slowly but surely,” said the 41-year-old.
“We’re now looking like we’ve got a deeper squad with a bit more quality around.”