Raith Rovers step up another level in win over Peterhead

Lewis Vaughan celebrates after putting Raith 3-0 up with his first goal in his first start since returning from long-term injury. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Lewis Vaughan celebrates after putting Raith 3-0 up with his first goal in his first start since returning from long-term injury. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 4 Peterhead 0

Raith Rovers tested the theory that there are no easy games in League One as they glided to a 4-0 win over Peterhead at Stark's Park.

Jim McInally's men are certainly no pushovers and arrived in Kirkcaldy on the back of two good wins having also held both East Fife and Falkirk to draws at the start of the campaign.

But on the day, the visitors were simply swatted aside by a Raith side that outclassed them in every department in an imposing 90 minutes of possession football.

John McGlynn's men are certainly capable of dominating opponents on their home patch - 12 goals have now been scored in three league games at Stark's - but this was another step up from the previous wins over Clyde and Montrose.

Two additions to the team, along with a change in system, made a significant difference with Steven Anderson providing the defensive pillar in the middle of a back three, while Lewis Vaughan, making his first start since January, added a layer of star quality that few players at this level possess.

Vaughan's contribution - which included a stunning lob for the team's third goal - was nothing short of remarkable given his length of absence and a testament to how hard he has worked throughout his recovery.

At the other end, not only did Raith keep a clean sheet, they never looked like losing a goal with Anderson bossing the game in a sweeper role.

Peterhead may have been missing their centre-forward talisman Rory McAllister through suspension, but the away side were so restricted in their attempts to attack that it is highly unlikely he would have made any difference.

Rovers wasted no time in settling into their new formation with Grant Anderson opening the scoring after just six minutes.

Kieran MacDonald was the architect with a superb first touch taking him infield before threading an inch-perfect ball into the box for Anderson to latch onto and fire past Greg Fleming for his third goal of the campaign.

With the first objective - an early goal - ticked off, Rovers were content to knock the ball around in their own half at times, preventing Peterhead from getting any kind of foothold in the game, but when the home side turned into attack mode, they did so with purpose.

On 26 minutes, a diagonal ball from Iain Davidson released Lewis Allan down the left and his cross to the back post found Regan Hendry in front of an open net, but the midfielder's downward header bounced into the ground and over the bar. A howler of a miss but certainly unlucky.

Rovers didn't have to wait long for their second goal as wing-back Michael Miller showed all the prowess of a seasoned striker with a great touch and volley into the roof of the net following a cross from MacDonald on the left.

Three-nil wouldn't have flattered the home side at half-time with Anderson sending a volley narrowly wide, while Vaughan also ran through on goal only to be denied by Fleming, who did well to block his first attempt and the rebound.

Vaughan was not to be denied his comeback goal though and eight minutes into the second half he conjured up a moment of magic, racing onto a ball over the top before sending a stunning lob over Fleming and just inside the far post from 18 yards. Well it was never going to be a tap-in, was it?

Grant Anderson was forced off shortly afterwards after suffering a knock in a tackle from behind, Jamie Gullan his replacement, while Rovers even had the luxury of taking off Hendry with 20 minutes left after the influential midfielder picked up a booking.

That came after Rovers added a fourth, with MacDonald again providing the telling cross, which Miller latched onto and finished superbly for his second of the match, and his fourth of the season so far.

The 24-year-old is certainly making his mark at Stark's Park after missing most of the last two years through injury, showing a knack for arriving in the opposition box in the right place at the right time.

It's taken them over a year, but Rovers finally seem to have found an adequate replacement for Jason Thomson.

Goalkeeper Ross Munro, who started his first league match of the season after keeping a clean sheet against Falkirk in the Challenge Cup last week, had only one save of note, diving low to hold a header from Cameron Eadie around the hour mark.

Assistant manager Paul Smith said he was delighted with a "first-class performance", adding: "We moved the ball about really well and got our just rewards with the goals we scored.

"To get another clean sheet is fantastic, and overall another good day at the office."

With the addition of Steven Anderson, key players returning from injury and John Baird also due to arrive this week, Raith are starting to look like a force to be reckoned with.

But with defeats at Stranraer and East Fife, as well as last season's troubles away from home still firm in the memory, the big question now is whether the team can take this level of performance on the road.

Back-to-back away games at Airdrie and Forfar will be a chance to show they are now better equipped for the challenges ahead.