Much-changed Raith Rovers side fight back to earn draw at Stranraer

Stranraer 2 Raith Rovers 2

Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 9:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 11:12 pm
Ross Matthews competes with Jamie Hamill for possession in the first meeting between the teams this season. Pic: Eddie Doig

Raith Rovers made the long journey south on Saturday arriving in Stranraer to heavy rain and concerned looks skywards with last season's abandonment still fresh in the memory.

However, on this occasion there was better news as the conditions cleared up a bit to provide pleasant but blustery and difficult conditions in time for kick off.

John McGlynn made five changes from the midweek draw at Dumbarton bringing back Robbie Thomson, Ross Matthews, David McKay and Craig McGuffie while new loan signing Jamie Gullan was handed his Rovers debut.

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However, the game could hardly have got off to a poorer start.

Stranraer had already threatened with an Adam Cummins header from a corner when they took the lead in the 10th minute.

Great work on the left by David Smith allowed him to drive in a perfect cross for Kyle Turner to turn home left footed from close range giving Thomson no chance.

Rovers finally threatened and advanced into the Blues box but Callum Crane’s driven cross was well out of the reach of McGuffie coming in at the far post.

In the 21st minute it was Thomson to the rescue with a tremendous save. Stranraer broke with pace and Jamie Hamill crossed to Cameron Elliott who looked to have doubled the home side's lead but for the goalkeeper's agility turning the ball onto the bar.

It was though, only a temporary reprieve as within a minute the Blues did score again.

After continuing the pressure the ball fell to Joao Victoria on the left and he cut in and curled a superb finish into the top corner.

After half an hour the visitors almost halved the deficit with their best chance of the game.

Kevin Nisbet played in Tony Dingwall and from point blank range Blues keeper Max Currie defied him with an excellent stop and the home defence scrambled the ball clear.

Minutes later Crane drove across the face of goal again but Nisbet couldn’t get enough on the ball to divert it inside the far post.

The half time message from John McGlynn and Paul Smith appeared to do the trick as within three minutes the deficit was cut in half.

A fine cross from the left by Crane was turned in neatly from ten yards out by Craig McGuffie with a low left footed finish after losing his marker at the back post.

Rovers were fortunate when a Turner shot was deflected and spun just wide but equally when a McGuffie cross hung in the wind, causing problems for Currie and the Blues centre backs, it just wouldn’t fall for Nisbet to apply a finishing touch.

Currie then denied Nisbet with a great stop one-on-one as the striker burst clear but when Cummins was adjudged to have handled on the ground a penalty was awarded and Nisbet made no mistake finding the roof of the net.

The game turned quite scrappy for a spell and neither side created anything that troubled the opposition keeper or suggested which of the teams would be the likelier to find a winner.

Rovers had a spell on top but so did Stranraer and both boxes were threatened but with neither keeper worked to any degree both sides would have to settle for a share of the points from an entertaining game that both probably will feel they could have won.

"We didn't start the game at all well and although the conditions contributed to it being a game of two halves, we allowed Stranraer to dominate the early stages" said John McGlynn in his post match summary.

"We said a few things at half-time and we got a great start to the second half, two each after 56 minutes and loads of time to go on and win the game but we didn't really create enough after that."

Praising the teams ability to come back from two down, he added: "We had a young side out today, a few changes, could have crumbled and we showed a bit of character and at least deserved the point we took from the game."

Stranraer: Max Currie, David Brownlie, David Smith, Jamie Hamill, Adam Cummins, Connor McManus, Kyle Turner, Joao Victoria, Alistair McCann, Cameron Elliott (Conor O'Keefe 73), Innes Cameron. Subs not used: Jonathan Baxter, Alistair McColm, Lyle Avci.

Goals: Turner 10, Victoria 22

Raith Rovers: Robbie Thomson, Callum Crane, Euan Murray, Grant Gillespie, Tony Dingwall, Ross Matthews, Kevin Nisbet, David McKay, Jamie Barjonas, Craig McGuffie (Nathan Flanagan 71), Jamie Gullan (Liam Buchanan 69). Subs not used: James Berry, Jamie Watson, Kieron Bowie, Iain Davidson, Dean Lyness.

Goals: McGuffie 48, Nisbet 56 pen

Referee: David Munro.

Attendance: 310.