Demolition derby as five-star Raith destroy Dunfermline
Raith Rovers blazed their way last night to their biggest win over Dunfermline in 38 years.
The match had all the makings of an appetising Scottish Championship cracker, with both teams searching for play-off place points and the added spice of a Fife derby.
Dunfermline had won their last encounter at East End Park 4-1 – but the Stark’s Park midfield dominated the action and the strike force of Lewis Vaughan and Jamie Gullan – both on from the beginning after starting on the bench on Saturday – worked a treat with two goals apiece.
Regan Hendry – who said afterwards it was a joy for the midfielders to have played behind the on-form forward duo – opened the scoring after a superbly contructed team move on 16 minutes as Ratih won 5-1.
Visiting manager – and former Rovers player – Stevie Crawford said it was the lowest point of his career as Dunfermline boss.
The Pars had equalised soon after Hendry’s opener but did very little else in the first half. Their performance was better in the second period, with a number of attempts to create moves down the flanks but, on the rare occasions they had a glimpse of goal, they found the Rovers rearguard in robust form.
Raith gaffer John McGlynn said afterwards: “I am in wonderland – the performance was fantastic and of a very high standard. Everything kind of clicked for us tonight. Every single player performed to an outstanding level; it was incredible.
"It’s a little bit of payback for the 4-1 defeat but it’s great for everyone Raith Rovers-minded and connected to Raith Rovers that we managed to put on a performance and get a scoreline like that against our local rivals.”
A move composed of 11 successive Raith passes – which began with a thwarted Dunfermline header towards goal in the Raith box – concluded with a delightful goal from Hendry, who received Brad Spencer’s assist before clinically shooting home.
Withiin four minutes, however, one of the few bright moments for Dunfermline came with their equaliser, which suggested the game might evolve into the close, tense, evenly-matched encounter many had expected.
Raith shotstopper Jamie MacDonald rather clumsily gave away a throw-in while trying to smother a Dunfernline attack but the short throw was played to Scott Banks, who sent over an excellent high cross, and Kevin O’Hara scored with a skilful header.
Raith. however, regained control and, on the half hour, Lewis Vaughan, back after his desperately unlucky spells out through injury, found the target for the first time sincee September 2018. Kieran MacDonald and Jamie Gullan worked a neat interchange for MacDonald to send over a textbook cross, which was rattled home by Vaughan from inside the six-yard box.
And Vaughan made sure it would be a special night nine minutes later with a deceptive third goal. It looked as if Hendry was shaping up to take a Raith free kick but it was Vaughan who floated the ball into the box, towards the far post. A few Rovers players went hunting for it, accompanied by Pars defenders, but Vaughan judging the height perfectly for it to bounce in front of the luckless Fon Williams and into the net.
The second half began with a double substitution for Dunfermline – but the change in formation did them no good as Raith went 4-1 up within a couple of minutes.
The ball was played loosely by Dunfermline’s Lewis Mayo near the centre and Ross Matthews played a neat pass to Hendry. He transferred it to the advancing Gullan, who scored with a resolute shot.
There still would have been time for the Pars to come back if they could produce an astonishing transformation but it seemed unlikely, given the form their hosts were in.
O’Hara was instrumental in trying to make things happen for the visitors, while McCann appeared to be through before he was robbed on 63 minutes by a well-timed covering challenge by Kyle Benedictus.
Craig Wighton headed narrowly wide in 67 minutes from a Pars advance, although a Raith defender got a touch. But Dunfermline’s evening was largely summed up by a passage of play in the 75th minute. After another good O’Hara cross, McManus’ attempted to shoot but sliced his effort. The deflection fell kindly for Fraser Murray but he put his shot high over the bar form close in, when he should have scored.
Seconds later, a through ball from substitute Dylan Tair sent Gullan away on a break for Raith Rovers, exploiting big gaps in the Dunfermline defence, and he scored with a skilful, crisp shot into the corner to complete the scoring at 5-1.
Raith Rovers – J. MacDonald, Tumilty, K. MacDonald (Armstrong 55), Benedictus, Hendry, Vaughan (Duku 79), Matthews, Spencer, Musonda, Kennedy (Tait 69), Gullan. Subs not used – Thomson (GK), Abraham, Ugwu, King.
Dunfermline – Fon Williams, Comrie, Edwards, Murray, O’Hara, Henderson (McManus 60), Wighton, Murray, Mayo, McInroy (McCann 45), Banks (Wilson 45). Subs not used – MacDonald, Allan, Gill, Thomas.
Referee – Euan Alexander.