Raith Rovers claim Premiership scalp in preseason win over Hamilton Accies

Sixteen-year-old Kieron Bowie was a stand-out in the 3-2 friendly win over Hamilton. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Sixteen-year-old Kieron Bowie was a stand-out in the 3-2 friendly win over Hamilton. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 3 Hamilton Accies 2

History tells us not to get carried away with results or performances in preseason, but it is hard not to take encouragement from Raith Rovers' victory over Premiership opposition last night.

Rovers powered their way into a 3-0 lead over Hamilton Accies following a particularly impressive opening 45 minutes, and although they had a wobble in the second half, conceding twice in three minutes, they did enough amidst the traditional flurry of substitutes to hold on for the win.

Goals from Regan Hendry, Kieron Bowie and Ross Matthews did the damage before the break, with 16-year-old Bowie making a name for himself as the first player born this century to score for the club - a stat announced over the tannoy to great cheer among the 800 home fans.

Taking his age into account, Bowie's performance was certainly one to be excited about, with his pace, poise and power, not to mention his top drawer finish, giving the Accies defence problems until he was substituted on the 65-minute mark.

Based on what we've seen so far in preseason, Bowie is ready to be thrown into League One.

In defence, Rovers were much more secure before half-time than they were afterwards, with Fernandy Mendy's physical presence particularly catching the eye, while the passing from the back, linking both with goalkeeper David McGurn and the midfield, was good, if a little risky at times.

The midfield trio also impressed with Hendry, Matthews and Brad Spencer as good on the ball as they were off it, while up front, new signing Lewis Allan drifted in and out of the game, but when he did get the ball, he showed in glimpses that he can be effective.

Accies started strongly and Rovers had a lucky escape when George Oakley headed against the bar from six yards when he should have scored.

But Raith were certainly in the game and took the lead on 25 minutes when quick footwork from Hendry in the box saw him upended by goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot.

Hendry's penalty was confidently dispatched, as was his effort against Stirling on Saturday, as he makes an early claim to be Raith's main spot kick taker this season.

The goal gave Rovers more encouragement to attack, and it was 2-0 nine minutes later when Bowie collected a pass from Allan on the edge of the area, shifted the ball onto his left foot, and bent the ball into the far corner with the confidence of a season pro.

Rovers were now spraying the passes all around the pitch and opening up gaps in the Accies half.

Joao Victoria forced Williams into a save with a rasping strike before a rather fortunate deflection on a wayward Ross Matthews shot saw the ball end up in the back of the net, giving Raith a somewhat unexpected three-goal lead at the break.

John McGlynn could only be delighted with the first half his players produced, but the second half, as friendlies tend to be, was a different story as legs still short on full match fitness began to tire, the subs began to roll, and things became a little less structured.

Truth be told, Rovers conceded two avoidable goals, losing the ball in a bad area for Accies first on 56 minutes, allowing Oakley to fire low past McGurn, before three minutes later, a cross from a deep position wasn't dealt with and Ronan Hughes headed home.

The time that followed was a test for Rovers, particularly as Hamilton brought on some quick and skilful players up front, and McGurn was called upon to make two good saves from Mickel Miller to ensure Raith held on for the win.

McGlynn also introduced fresh faces for the final 25 minutes with everyone in the squad, barring goalkeeper Ross Munro, getting a run out. Former Livingston midfielder Matthew Knox also made an appearance as a trialist.

All in all this was a friendly that ticked the box for Raith in terms of fitness, with the added bonus of optimism thrown in.