Raith Rovers beat Aberdeen in Premier Sports Cup clash
Raith Rovers made it through to the last eight of the Premier Sports Cup with a memorable home win over Premiership side Aberdeen.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas opened the scoring for the Dons but second half goals from Ethon Varian and Dario Zantta saw John McGlynn’s side through to the quarter-final.
There was a large away support from up north - the first to be allowed into Stark's Park this season - among the crowd of 3,297, and it would prove to be an unhappy, long journey back home for them as Rovers won the game 2-1.
Raith made two changes to the side which lost at Inverness last weekend, with Tom Lang and Matej Poplatnik dropping to the bench for midfielder Blaise Riley-Snow and striker Ethon Varian who led the Rovers attack as they started the game with a 4-5-1 formation.
With 10 minutes gone Raith carved out the game’s first chance. Ross Matthews cut the ball back from the byline but Riley-Snow’s effort from close range was blocked.
It was a missed opportunity that Raith would soon regret as just two minutes later, the visitors took the lead.
A cross was partially cleared but fell to Emmanuel-Thomas outside the Rovers’ box and the striker rifled an unstoppable strike past Jamie MacDonald and into the net.
The Dons looked comfortable after that, though neither side created anything to trouble either keeper until 35 minutes when Dario Zanatta evaded a couple of Aberdeen defenders but his angled effort crashed off the outside of the post when a cross may have been the better option.
The half ended with the visitors in the lead, though, goal aside, MacDonald had rarely been troubled and Raith were very much still in it.
No changes at half time and after just two minutes Rovers were level.
Zanatta was hauled down on the edge of the Aberdeen box, with Teddy Jenks booked for the foul.
From the resultant free kick Reghan Tumilty delivered a great ball and Ethon Varian knocked in the equaliser from close range - his first goal for Raith.
On 51 minutes he came close to adding a second when he was just inches away from getting his head onto the end of a Zanatta cross.
11 minutes later and Riley-Snow was too high with an effort from the edge of the box after some neat interplay down the Rovers’ right.
Dons’ keeper Joe Lewis was forced into a save after a positive run and shot from Aidan Connolly on 66 minutes with Rovers taking command of the match and 60 seconds after the visitors had made a triple substitution, the home side took the lead their play merited.
Riley-Snow crashed a shot towards goal, Lewis parried and as the Dons’ defence dithered Zanatta nipped in to thump the ball into the net on 70 minutes. 2-1 to Rovers.
On 80 minutes the same player cut inside and had another attempt but Lewis saved comfortably.
It was to be the last effort on goal from either side and Rovers held on for the richly deserved win after an outstanding second half display.