Raith Rovers 3-1 East Fife

There was little between these two in the first 45 of this Fife derby but Raith flexed their muscles in the second half.

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 4:44 pm
Matej Poplatnik's header wraps up the victory. Picture by Fife Photo Agency

They secured a deserved victory on their own patch, holding East Fife at arm’s length.

East Fife started well with their attacking line-up helping to pen Raith back deep inside their own half.

Scott Mercer’s free-kick in the opening minutes found Sean Brown but the forward couldn’t direct his header on target.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It took a while for Raith to get into the game but they were presented with the best chance of the game when Jude Smith spilled a cross and dropped the ball at the feet of Ethon Varian.

The goal was at Varian’s mercy but he somehow shot high over the bar.

As derby games go this encounter certainly lacked the crackle of some previous matches between the two.

With half an hour of the game neither keeper had been seriously tested.

The first real attempt on goal brought about the opening goal and kick-started a dramatic end to the opening 45.

Raith midfielder Dylan Tait looked to be having difficulty shifting the ball out from under his feet but eventually managed to do so.

He got a neat finish away which beat Smith.

Out of nowhere the game had cracked to life and East Fife were level almost right away.

Scott Mercer worked space for himself on the edge of the box and sent a magnificent drive beyond Jamie MacDonald.

Raith, though, like East Fife, responded straight away and retook their lead before the break thanks to Aidan Connolly’s sublime free-kick.

East Fife remained very much in the game and were making their hosts work for their win.

The introduction of Danny Denholm and Kyle Connell from the bench added even more attacking threat as they tried to get back into the tie.

Raith grabbed the game’s crucial fourth goal, though, Matej Poplatnik heading them into a 3-1 lead.

Connolly almost wrapped up the win with 10 minutes to go when he tried his luck with another free-kick.

His effort was heading into the top corner but this time Smith managed to get a strong hand to it.

Home boss John McGlynn said: “Dylan shows a bit of composure with his finish but unfortunately we didn’t hold on to the lead for very long.

“But then there’s a bit of class from Aidan Connolly with a terrific free-kick.

“Every Friday he practices them in training and he does that.

“To an extent it had become frustrating that he could only do it on a Friday at 12 oclock in training.

“But we got one in a good area, I actually thought it may have been too far out, but he executed it really well.

“A touch of class.”

Opposite number Darren Young says his players had given their all.

He added: “Again we lose a poor goal but there was a good reaction after that and a great goal from Scott Mercer.

“Then they get a free-kick which goes into the top corner and sometimes you just have to put your hands up.

“But again we were still in the game but maybe didn’t create as much as we’d have liked.”