Raith Rovers: Captain Easton leads from the front as hosts hit six

Raith Rovers 6, Peterhead 0

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 12:34 pm
Dylan Easton is on target for Raith Rovers against Peterhead (picture by Fife Photo Agency)
Dylan Easton is on target for Raith Rovers against Peterhead (picture by Fife Photo Agency)

A composed and clinical Raith Rovers glided past a Peterhead side desperately short of resources on Wednesday night in the Premier Sports League Cup.

The Kirkcaldy side completely dominated possession in their first competitive match of the season and were never remotely in trouble.

Captain for the night, Dylan Easton, ran the show and scooped a deserved man of the match award, as well as scoring two goals – and possibly a third, which took a big deflection.

Manager Ian Murray said they were really happy with the result and the performance, which was a difficult balance to get right.

“I felt the result reflected the performance, which might be obvious in saying that. But energy levels are great and fitness levels are really high,” he said.

"I was delighted with the boys and how they are being receptive to what we’re trying to do. Games and results like this build trust between us.

"At half time, I asked them to be relentless and to be professional because 2-0 is always a sticky scoreline – it can change so quickly with a set play, a penalty kick, a sending off.

"But they were excellent – really, really good. I can’t speak highly enough of them at the moment.

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"But we need to keep our feet on the ground and make sure we recover really well tomorrow and Friday, to get ready for the game (at home to Stirling Albion) on Saturday.

Rovers, minus the suspended Dario Zanatta, had the first shot on target after three minutes at Stark’s Park. Ethan Ross collected the ball on the left flank and cut inside before unleashing a curling effort which didn’t cause too much trouble for Peterhead ‘keeper Sandy Wood.

Easton fired narrowly over the bar in the 10th minute as Rovers steadily applied pressure on Jim McInally’s side, who had only one named substitute on their bench.

Easton was the victim shortly afterwards of a scything challenge by Ryan Dow, who was yellow-carded by referee Calum Scott. Veteran centre-back Christophe Berra was then treated for a leg knock after a collision.

Raith took the lead in the 16th minute with an excellent goal, as Kieran Mitchell’s cross from the right was volleyed powerfully home by Easton.

Another couple of Rovers attacks broke down before Aidan Connolly shot above the crossbar in 21 minutes on collecting an Easton corner kick.

Sam Stanton transferred a 27th-minute ball to Jamie Gullan, who eluded his marker well but his rising shot was always travelling over.

Easton played a large part in Raith Rovers’ second goal after 32 minutes, collecting a loose ball and bearing down on goal before his shot struck Peterhead skipper Paul Dixon and went in. The Raith man, perhaps not surprisingly, was claiming it.

Peterhead had been virtually invisible as an attacking force in the first half and it started to look as if the same might be true after the break, as Berra was allowed to travel a long way in the 48th minute before passing to Gullan, whose neat lay-off to Mitchell went over the bar.

Another moment of class from Easton made it 3-0 after 50 minutes. He collected a short corner from Connolly and looked up – with everyone perhaps expecting a high ball into the box, he deposited a precise low drive into the net at Wood’s left-hand post.

The Balmoor stopper made a good save five minutes later, beating out a shot by Gullan, as Rovers advanced again, with Mitchell firing another effort over the bar from a good position.

Rovers were soaking up any potential Peterhead moves and turning things into attack, with Gullan hitting the side netting after 59 minutes.

It was little surprise when Rovers made it 4-0 in the 62nd minute, as Gullan crossed from the left and Liam Dick met the looping ball with a back header past Wood.

Within just a couple of minutes, Rovers were back in the Peterhead box and Gullan knocked home their fifth goal.

Peterhead then replaced Jordon Brown with their solitary substitute, Robbie McGale.

The visitors gained a couple of corners, taken by Cody McLeod and Ryan Dow, but neither caused difficulty for the Rovers rearguard.

Aidan Connolly summed up the Raith performance two minutes from time with a superb left-footed free kick from outside the box which soared beyond Wood and in.

Raith Rovers: MacDonald, Dick, Millen, Berra (Young 72), Connolly, Gullan, Stanton, Brown, Ross (Masson 85), Easton, Mitchell (Coulson 76). Subs (not used) – Thomson (GK), Mahady.

Peterhead: Wood, Strachan, McDonald, Wilson, Dixon, Jack Brown, McLeod, Jordon Brown (McGale 65), Adeyamo, Dow, O’Keefe.

Referee: Calum Scott.

Attendance: 1031.