Fife derby play-off for Raith after heavy Hearts defeat

Raith Rovers will play Dunfermline in the Premiership play-offs after they were thumped 4-0 at home by league champions Hearts.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:33 pm
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:39 pm
Brad Spencer in action against Hearts (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

With Dundee winning 2-0 at Queen of the South, the Dens Park side leapfrogged Rovers to take second place in the Championship table.

A double from Gary Mackay-Steven and goals from Euan Henderson and Steven Naismith saw Hearts win in convincing fashion over Rovers, who also had Iain Davidson sent off on a night to forget.

Raith boss John McGlynn made three changes to the side which lost at Dundee last Saturday.

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The suspended Dylan Tait dropped out along with Gozie Ugwu and Kai Kennedy to be replaced by Fernandy Mendy, Adam King and Lewis Vaughan.

With one eye on events at Dumfries, Raith had the first attempt on goal through Jamie Gullan after just three minutes but his shot was too high.

Seven minutes later though, it was Hearts who took the lead.

Gary Mackay-Steven beat the offside trap and latched onto a long ball from Michael Smith before dispatching a superb angled shot past Jamie MacDonald.

The Jambos took command after that and came close to adding to their lead. Liam Boyce had a headed chance on 21 minutes before Andy Halliday rattled the Raith bar with a free kick four minutes later.

But despite being on the back foot Rovers passed up a glorious chance to equalise on 38 minutes when Brad Spencer put a shot over the bar from inside the six yard box from a fine cross from Reghan Tumilty.

Rovers were now in the ascendancy and two minutes later Lewis Vaughan went close with an angled drive from outside the box that had Craig Gordon scrambling.

Raith emerged for the second half knowing Dundee had a two-goal, half time lead but found Hearts at their very best and it was one-way traffic towards the Raith goal for the entire 45 minutes.

Henderson passed up a glorious opportunity to score on 51 minutes when he fluffed a shot but made amends four minutes later when he turned on the ball in the box and curled a fine effort into the net to make it 2-0.

Two minutes later and the scorer was involved in a moment of controversy.

He seemed to stumble on the ball as he shaped to shoot in the box, but referee David Munro decided that Davidson had clipped the Hearts youngster and showed him a red card.

Raith have confirmed they will appeal the decision.

Hearts defender Craig Halkett hit the bar with the penalty but unfortunately for the ten men Hearts weren’t finished scoring.

Boyce hit a weak shot on the hour mark that he should have put away, but nine minutes later was involved in Hearts’ third.

He crashed an effort off the bar and after the Raith defence failed to clear he slipped it through to Hearts sub Steven Naismith to score with his first touch.

Three minutes later and Boyce was provider once again. He played a one-two with Naismith before crossing for Mackay-Steven to knock in his second and Hearts’ fourth.

Naismith and Mackay-Steven both had further attempts on goal before the 90 minutes were up.

Second place wasn’t to be for McGlynn’s men, but qualifying for the play-offs is still a huge achievement for a side some had tipped to go straight back down at the start of the season.

Their reward is now a mouth-watering, two-legged play-off against rivals Dunfermline, with the first leg at East End Park on Tuesday night, before the return at Stark’s Park next Saturday.