Raith Rovers out of jail with last gasp equaliser in Dumbarton

Kevin Nisbet's header rescues a point for Raith Rovers.Kevin Nisbet's header rescues a point for Raith Rovers.
Kevin Nisbet's header rescues a point for Raith Rovers.
Dumbarton 2 Raith Rovers 2

The muted celebrations which followed Raith Rovers' last gasp equaliser in Dumbarton reflected a team that had escaped from jail.

Rovers were just seconds away from a seventh league defeat of the season when Kevin Nisbet glanced home an injury-time header to rescue a point.

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But that only softened the disappointment for a side in desperate need of wins, not to catch Arbroath - that ship has long sailed - but simply to build any semblance of momentum for the play-offs.

As it stands, two wins in eight league games is not the form of a team that will be playing in the division above next season.

The ignominy of yet another away defeat may have been avoided, but in truth this midweek match followed a similar pattern to the recent losses Rovers have suffered as they once again had a lead overturned, only this time they were rewarded for going right until the final whistle.

For John McGlynn there was frustration at both ends of the park.

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Both Dumbarton goals were fantastic strikes from the edge of the box, but it came from Raith giving the ball away in dangerous areas, while going forward, the visitors were too often lacking a killer instinct, failing to pounce on balls which were there for the taking.

Overall, it was another performance where it was easier to pinpoint the things Raith did wrong, rather than the things they did right.

The cause wasn't helped by yet another injury blow as midfielder Nat Wedderburn hobbled off with a hamstring complaint on 14 minutes, although Rovers shrugged off this early setback to take the lead five minutes later.

A short corner routine saw Tony Dingwall cross to the back post, and although the initial ball was cleared, when Iain Davidson returned it to the box, Nathan Flanagan took advantage of a fortunate ricochet to steer a close range finish beyond Connor Brennan.

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At this stage Rovers had a firm control of the game, but the lapses in concentration which have plagued them all season ensured that this would soon be relinquished, with the home side grabbing an equaliser on 27 minutes.

Left back Callum Crane was firstly at fault, running straight into trouble as he tried to dribble out of defence, allowing Dumbarton to set up an attack.

As the ball was delivered into the Raith box, centre-back Euan Murray then snatched his attempted clearance straight to the edge of the box where Ross Forbes ran onto it and skelped it past Dean Lyness.

The goalkeeper, who again reclaimed his place from Robbie Thomson as McGlynn continues to rotate the goalkeepers, may feel he could have saved it given he got both hands to the effort, but the power in the strike proved too much.

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A good hit, but an avoidable goal - and the same could be said for Dumbarton's second six minutes later.

The opposite full back, Grant Gillespie, was the guilty party this time, misjudging the pace on the ball as he tried to let it run out of play, allowing Dom Thomas to nip and and pull it back for Stewart Carswell to sweep the ball past Lyness from the edge of the box.

Two mistakes, two goals conceded, and another winning position turned into a losing one.

It took Raith a while to recover but a chance on the stroke of half-time gave some encouragement, as Liam Buchanan was denied at point-blank range by a Brennan block.

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The second half, however, proved largely frustrating as Raith dominated possession but were unable to crack open a stubborn Dumbarton defence.

Multiple corners were won, but when balls dropped invitingly in the box, it was always a home player who reacted first to clear.

Buchanan was doing most of the running up front, and it was his dart into the box that set-up a half-chance for Nisbet, but the striker's effort was deflected over.

Flanagan had a strop as he was replaced by Craig McGuffie, and there were a number of angry exchanges between players as Rovers' frustration threatened to implode.

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Dingwall tried to provide the answer but a couple of long-range strikes failed to trouble the goalkeeper, and then Buchanan snatched at a chance and the ball trundled through to Brennan.

Dumbarton should have put the game beyond Raith on the counter attack with Thomas wasting two glorious chances in the final 10 minutes, firing wide on both occasions with just Lyness to beat.

Rovers threw on young striker Keiran Bowie for Gillespie in a final throw of the dice, but it was top scorer Nisbet who saved the day in almost the last act of the game.

McGuffie collected a throw-in, looked up and picked out the striker with a pinpoint cross, who got the deftest of touches with his head to send it past Brennan for his 23rd goal of the season.

The final whistle blew just 30 seconds later, and Rovers walked off relieved, but not happy with the outcome.