Raith Rovers put four goals past Hamilton Accies to go forth to SPFL Trust Trophy semi-finals
A repeat of spring’s 1-0 defeat at the Falkirk Stadium looked an unlikely prospect once Sam Stanton had found the back of the hosts’ net at the ZLX Stadium, alias New Douglas Park, with a close-range shot with eight minutes on the clock and was appearing unlikelier still after Accies defender Lee Kilday was shown a straight red card for fouling Raith striker Jamie Gullan on 54 minutes.
Two goals in the space of three minutes around the hour mark for fellow visiting striker Jack Hamilton took what had hitherto seemed an unlikely turn of events into mission impossible territory, but Hamilton gave it a go, getting one back via former Raith forward Dario Zanatta on 73 minutes.
That was all the trophy-holders could manage by way of response, however, and midfielder Dylan Easton added another to the Kirkcaldy club’s tally just ahead of the final whistle to put the result beyond any last vestige of doubt.
Raith manager Ian Murray had made four changes to his starting line-up from the Saturday prior’s 3-2 win against Queen’s Park at Hampden Park, with Hamilton, Easton, Gullan and Adam Masson replacing Euan Murray, Josh Mullin, Lewis Vaughan and Callum Smith, with his opposite number, John Rankin, settling for one alteration to the team that beat Stirling Albion 5-0 at home that same day, Stephen Hendrie coming in for Jackson Longridge.
Murray was impressed by the display put on by his side for a crowd of 971, 416 of them travelling fans, telling Raith TV afterwards: “I was very pleased.
“It was a good result for us first and foremost and a decent performance as it was a really, really tough game.
“The scoreline makes it look easy but it was a tough game.
“The red card quite early in the second half obviously changed things, but full credit to the boys again, they capitalised on that superbly apart from a sloppy spell of five or ten minutes but they also calmed the game down really well.
“We scored four goals away from home so there’s not much to complain about.
“We’ve now got a home tie in February to get into another final and it gives us an opportunity to try to win that.”
Explaining the changes to his starting 11, Murray added: “We had to see what we had after the game last week.
“We were trying also to get minutes into players. It was important that we gave Jacka and Hammer an opportunity to get some game-time and start a game as well.
“We just had to try to freshen up a little bit too as there are guys who have played far more minutes that we’d have anticipated due to the situation we found ourselves in.
“For those boys to come in and do so well just shows what we’re looking for and what we’re going to need for the rest of the season.
“We don’t have the biggest squad in the world but we’ve got quality and that’s really, really important.”