Raith Rovers hit early and late in the first half to secure points and go second

Raith Rovers 2, Arbroath 1

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 7:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th October 2021, 7:43 pm
Dylan Tait beats 'keeper Derek Gaston to score an early first goal for Raith Rovers, helped partially by a deflection off Arbroath captain Tam O'Brien (picture by Fife Photo Agency)

Raith Rovers moved into second place in the table by inflicting the first league defeat on Dick Campbell’s Arbroath since the opening day of the season.

The home side controlled the first period and put themselves well in command with goals at either end of the half, before Arbroath’s admittedly improved second-half showing was rewarded with a scrambled goal in injury time.

Assistant manager Paul Smith said the players were happy to win but disappointed they had not kept a clean sheet, with conceding late goals being something of a habit.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Team mates congratulate Raith's Dylan Tait (number 15) after he opens the scoring against Arbroath (picture by Fife Photo Agency)

However, they were delighted to end the first quarter in second place and with 17 points.

"It's been a great start to the season but we will need to kick on and do better in the second quarter," he added.

Raith made a marvellous start with a goal before two minutes had elapsed. Dylan Tait was the scorer but Reghan Tumilty was the architect.

The full back played some neat interchanges with his colleagues in a prolonged bid to get forward before Aidan Connolly and Tait played a clever one-two, enabling the latter to score with an angled shot which hit Lichties captain Tam O’Brien on its way in.

O’Brien left the field for a few moments for treatment to a facial injury but returned as his side launched their first real attack. The chance looked to have gone when Jason Thomson’s cross was headed clear, with very few Lichties players in the box, but James Craigen’s snapshot from 20 yards struck the post as Jamie MacDonald dived to his left.

Raith were passing the ball crisply in midfield, however, with Tumilty laying the foundations for a number of forward moves. Tait, Zanatta and Varian looked menacing, while Berra and Benedictus kept things moving from the back.

After 25 minutes, Rovers thought they had claims for a penalty when Ethon Varian robbed O’Brien of possession and set on off on a charge towards goal before going down in the box under a challenge from the visiting skipper. But referee Steven McLean waved play on.

Three minutes later, a through ball gave Michael McKenna a chance for Arbroath but MacDonald was out impressively to block the close-range effort at his feet.

On 31 minutes, veteran defender Christophe Berra was yellow-carded for bringing down Scott Stewart as he advanced on the right flank but Arbroath couldn’t make good use of the ensuing free kick into the box, or a subsequent corner.

Varian of Raith was also cautioned and Rovers gaffer John McGlynn was given a lengthy lecture by the referee as the on-field temperature crept up. Colin Hamilton was the next player booked, shortly before half time, for a hefty challenge on Rovers’ Ross Matthews that was more clumsy than malicious.

Moments later, Matthews made it 2-0 for the hosts with a glancing header from a cross by Dario Zanatta, to give Rovers a reasonably healthy cushion at the interval.

Arbroath responded at the start of the second half with a couple of attacks culminating in shots that went narrowly wide, the second from McKenna.

Rovers threatened danger again in 55 minutes when Benedictus threaded the ball to Matthews, whose pass sent Varian on his way but Lichties’ ‘keeper Derek Gaston made a good save.

Arbroath manager Dick Campbell made the first change on 61 minutes, bringing on Bobby Linn for Dale Hilson. Four minutes later, Anton Dowds took over from James Craigen.

The visitors had been seen more as an attacking force in the second half but Connolly fired a shot across the face of the Arbroath goal in 67 minutes.

Gavin Swankie was introduced for Arbroath on 69 minutes in place of Liam Henderson, while Raith made a double substitution in 72 minutes, with Ethan Ross deputising for Zanatta and Matej Poplatnik replacing Varian.

Arbroath tried to make a number of advances count but found the Raith defence giving nothing away.

Four minutes from time, home ‘keeper MacDonald was injured in a collision with team mate Ross while defending an Arbroath corner but carried on after treatment.

Tom Lang replaced Connolly for Rovers in the closing couple of minutes.

Dowds forced the ball home for Arbroath in stoppage time after it had taken several deflections during a scramble in the goalmouth from a McKenna corner kick.

Raith Rovers: MacDonald, Tumilty, Dick, Berra, Benedictus, Connolly (Lang 88), Matthews, Zanatta (Ross 72), Spencer, Tait, Varian (Poplatnik 72). Subs not used – Thomson (GK), Riley-Snow, Mitchell, Young.

Arbroath: Gaston, Thomson, Colin Hamilton, Little, O’Brien, Hilson (Linn 61), Stewart, McKenna, Henderson, (Swankie 69), Nouble, Craigen (Dowds 65). Subs not used – Antell (GK), Donnelly, Clark, Chris Hamilton.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Attendance: 1748.