Raith Rovers ease to comfortable friendly win over Spartans

Grant Anderson celebrates after opening the scoring for Raith Rovers in the friendly win over Spartans. Pic: Fife Photo AgencyGrant Anderson celebrates after opening the scoring for Raith Rovers in the friendly win over Spartans. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Grant Anderson celebrates after opening the scoring for Raith Rovers in the friendly win over Spartans. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Raith Rovers 2 Spartans 0

The margin may have been modest, but Raith Rovers friendly win over Lowland League side Spartans at Stark's Park was as comfortable as they come.

While a low-key, subdued affair was not a particularly engrossing watch, in many ways it was the perfect match for Raith as it allowed them to maintain the positive vibes following the wins over Stirling and Hamilton, without having to overly exert themselves in their second match in less than 48 hours.

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Despite playing the game in Spartans half, while restricting the visitors to nothing more than a couple of corners at the other end, manager John McGlynn didn't quite get the same satisfaction as the previous preseason wins over Stirling and Hamilton.

"It wasn't the most exciting game but a comfortable win," he said.

"We had to try and create a tempo in the game, but Spartans have tried to defend deep and we've only managed to open them up twice to score.

"If they don't come out it's very difficult to break down so the pace of the game was slow.

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"It then becomes pass, pass, pass looking for an opening, and that makes it difficult.

"We played with the two strikers, but there wasn't an awful lot of space in behind.

"That means the quality in front of it has to be very good, and these moments were probably few and far between

"It wasn't the usual type of game we'd be involved in, so it was tricky."

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Rovers added youngster Jack Smith to the squad from the game on Thursday, but there was no place for midfielder Brad Spencer.

"He's got a hip situation going on," McGlynn revealed.

"We don't think it's serious and he might be available for Tuesday.

"We're just not wanting to risk anything at the moment.

"We don't want him playing today then not training for three or four days, it's too early in the season to get into that situation, and we don't necessarily have to.

"We've got enough players in the central midfield area to get by."

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While there wasn't much to learn from the game, it was encouraging to see Grant Anderson provide a threat in the central striking role he is likely to adopt this season.

His well-timed run, and cool finish for the opener is exactly what Rovers will be looking for him to produce when they real action starts, albeit the opposition will be tougher.

Another who impressed was Kieran MacDonald at left back, with a narrow midfield shape allowing the new recruit from Airdrie to show his ability to get up and down the flank.

The passing theme from the previous friendlies continued - with Regan Hendry again conducting the orchestra from the middle of the park - while trialist Matthew Knox also put in a bright display, chipping in with a goal, although the chances of him remaining at Stark's Park are slim.

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Spartans' hard work and organisation was a good advert for the Lowland League, but the Raith defence went largely untested, with goalkeeper David McGurn enjoying a stress-free afternoon between the sticks.

It took Rovers 17 minutes of near total possession to fashion the opener with Ross Matthews' defence-splitting pass finding Anderson in stride and he slotted low beyond Blair Carswell.

Provider almost turned scorer when Matthews flashed a volley just wide from the edge of the box shortly afterwards.

The game had entered a lull approaching half-time when Knox chipped 'keeper Carswell from fully 30 yards, possibly with the aid of a deflection, to double the advantage.

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To add to their tally Rovers would need to play with more pace in the second half, but they only managed it on a handful of occasions.

One such attack on 58 minutes saw an incisive one-touch move end with Knox curling an effort narrowly over from 20 yards.

A quadruple sub followed on the hour mark - Benedictus, Mendy, Knox and Miller replaced by Davidson, McKay, Bowie and Victoria.

Spartans also made a raft of changes before Rovers came close to a third on 68 minutes when MacDonald's driving run and cross found Lewis Allan with his back to goal, and his shot on the turn was pushed behind by Carswell.

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From the corner, Victoria took a good touch before seeing a shot cleared off the line.

Carswell then made a brilliant save from Anderson's powerful 18-yard blast, gathering the ball at the second attempt, and he then denied the striker again with a near post block.

The Spartans 'keeper was having a good second half and that continued when he blocked Iain Davidson's first-time volley on the line after Hendry's corner had found its way to the defender at the back post.

By full-time Rovers had well and truly taken their foot off the pedal, with the final friendly on Tuesday night against Cowdenbeath likely to be a more competitive affair as Rovers look to gear up for the Betfred Cup opener against Dundee next Saturday.

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"We've been in every day this week so we're probably getting sick of the sight of each other," McGlynn added.

"It's a day off tomorrow to recharge the batteries, get the mind off football, then come back in Monday morning with a wee bit freshness to prepare, certainly the full-time guys, then get together for the game on Tuesday night."

Raith Rovers: McGurn, Miller (Victoria 61), MacDonald, Mendy (McKay 61), Benedictus (Davidson 61), Hendry, Allan (Smith 74), Anderson, Matthews, Watson, Trialist (Bowie 61).

Subs not used: Munro.

Referee: Gavin McNab

Attendance: 689