Raith Rovers win but play-off hopes slip away

Raith Rovers saw their chance of a top four finish all but end despite a fine 2-0 win away over Hamilton.

By Paul McCabe
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 5:02 pm
Ben Williamson (centre) is congratulated after opening the scoring against Hamilton. (Pic: Alan Murray)
Ben Williamson (centre) is congratulated after opening the scoring against Hamilton. (Pic: Alan Murray)

John McGlynn’s men held up their side of the bargain at New Douglas Park thanks to a Ben Williamson double, but their relegation-threatened arch rivals Dunfermline couldn’t do the same, losing 1-0 away to Partick Thistle, all but ending Raith’s hopes of snatching the last available top four spot from the Glasgow side.

Raith fielded an unchanged side after last week’s win over Partick with Aaron Arnott, who this week signed a contract extension with the club, on the bench.

Rovers’ first attempt on goal came on the five minute mark via a direct free kick from Ethan Ross but it was saved easily by keeper Ryan Fulton.

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The visitors took the game by the scruff of the neck after that and five minutes later took the lead.

Williamson fed Matej Polplatnik whose shot was blocked but the midfielder followed in to head the loose ball goalwards and it went in off the post despite attempts to clear from the Hamilton defence.

On 21 minutes Raith almost had a second when a superb curling shot from 25 yards from Aidan Connolly crashed off the Accies bar.

It was a let off for the home side and it seemed to shake them out of their slumber.

Two minutes later Josh Mullin had a go for the Hamilton but his effort was well wide and Accies began to exert pressure on the Raith defence but the back line held firm.

The match then swung back in the visitors’ favour with Sam Stanton shooting wide and Poplatnik being flagged offside after putting the ball in the net from a Connolly cross, though he looked unlucky to have been penalised.

The half ended with Rovers on top and one goal to the good.

Three minutes into the second 45 and Accies keeper Fulton had to be alert to block the ball from close range after an in swinging cross.

The first ten minutes were scrappy with neither side taking charge and little in the way of quality on display and it was no surprise that the next goal came through a mistake.

Just before the hour mark Hamilton defender Daniel O’Reilly allowed himself to be caught on the ball, he was dispossessed by Williamson who finished well with a low drive under Fulton to double Raith’s lead.

Connolly shot wide and substitute Ethon Varian had an effort saved by Fulton as Raith saw the match out comfortably amid a flurry of substitutions for both sides, though Hamilton’s Adam McGowan and Mihai Popescu with a free kick went close in the final five minutes.

Raith now welcome Kilmarnock as Partick travel to play Ayr when the Championship season ends next Friday night and will be looking for a miracle as the Jags have a three point lead over the Stark’s Park side, but crucially are eight goals better off.