Gallant Raith bow out of Scottish Cup after extra time
An extra-time winner from Livingston sunk promotion-chasing Raith Rovers’ Scottish Cup hopes at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The Kirkcaldy side rattled their Premier League hosts by taking the lead with an exquisite Lewis Vaughan free kick and looked easily capable of matching them in the first half with a very assured team performance.
However, David Martindale’s began to dominate possession as the game progressed and Raith found themselves on the end of some frequent forward moves. The exertions of so many games in the last few days possibly took their toll on John McGlynn’s troops and they lost one of their key figures, Jamie Gullan, through injury.
A Livingston leveller looked on the cards and it came from a corner kick with 20 minutes remaining. Raith had defended very well from attacks and set plays but, on this occasion, Jack Fitzwater got on the end of a knock down by Jon Guthrie to fire home.
The dawn of extra time signalled another hopeful bite at the cherry for Rovers but, apart from a small heartfelt flurry of attacking moves near the end, Livingston more or less ran the additional period.
Raith were finally undone by a classic run down the flank and a squared ball leading to a relatively simple tap in, with 10 minutes of the second spell of extra time remaining.
Before the game, Raith said they had come to West Lothian to put on a show and they certainly did that with 13 minutes gone. The Lang Toun men were awarded a free kick just outside the box by referee Bobby Madden and up strode Lewis Vaughan to take it. Once again, the 25-year-old striker looked as if he might lay off to a team mate, or float it into the box, but he hit a perfectly-judged shot past bemused ‘keeper Bobby McCrorie, who’d left a huge gap at the near post.
Gullan was causing the hosts a lot of problems in the first half by exploiting space here and there, so it was a blow when he had to go off five minutes from half time with a knock which affected his back, hip and hamstring.
Livingston’s hunt for an equaliser had begun in earnest towards the break and they continued in similar vein in the second half. The match entered a rather flat period with few chances for Livi, despite their territorial upper hand but the goal they’d been threatening arrived in 70 minutes, through Fitzwater.
The home side sealed their ticket to the last 16 with the winner on 110 minutes, as they got behind Raith thanks to an excellent pass from captain Marvin Bartley. Nicky Devlin charged down the right flank and fired over a low cross which presented a relatively simple chance for substitute Matej Poplatnik.
Afterwards, Rovers manager John McGlynn said the endeavours against a Premier League side had “spoken volumes” for his players.
He thought they were excellent in the first half and the opportunities which came their way were good ones – "better than half chances” – and they could possibly have had two or three goals.
However, he added, Rovers possibly didn’t take quite as much advantage as they should have, although he said Livingston didn’t create a huge amount despite streaming forward on a regular basis.
There were “loads of positives for us to take” said McGlynn, including coming to Livingston’s ground and holding them to 1-1 after 90 minutes, as well as the amount of hard work and good defending, which included several goal-line clearances.
Livingston – McCrorie, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Longridge, Holt, Bartley, Sibbald (Kabia 111), Pittman (Diani 111), Forrest (Mullin 63), Emmanuel-Thomas (Poplatnik 70). Subs not used – Stryjek, Lawson, McMillan, Lithgow, Ambrose.
Raith Rovers – MacDonald, Tumilty, Davidson, Benedictus, Hendry, Vaughan (Ugwu 89), Spencer, Musonda, Tait, Kennedy (Armstrong 89), Gullan (Duku 40). Subs not used – Thomson, Abraham, Smith, Cooney, King.
Referee – Bobby Madden.