Cup final heroes revert back to poor league form

The Raith defence are shell-shocked as Dumbarton go one up. Pic: Neil Doig
The Raith defence are shell-shocked as Dumbarton go one up. Pic: Neil Doig

Raith Rovers 1 Dumbarton 3

It was back to the grim realities of the league campaign for Raith Rovers on Saturday as the Ramsdens Cup heroes slumped to a disappointing home defeat to Dumbarton.

It would be easy to put the performance down to the excersions and euphoria of the previous week, but there are more long-standing issues with the team’s form than a mere cup final hangover.

Just two wins from the last 16 league games is on a par with Morton, who were officially relegated on Saturday, while the loss of 17 goals in the last six home games points to problems that go well beyond the after-effects of a few days partying.

The Rangers win will ensure these players are always remembered as legends - and rightly so - but last Sunday’s historic triumph was an anomoly amidst a season that has completely come off the rails.

Saturday’s performance was not a one-off, although there were various factors that did not help.

The cup winning side was effectively decimated with Joe Cardle, Kevin Moon and Liam Fox - three-quarters of the midfield that started at Easter Road - all missing out through suspension.

That stretched Raith’s small squad to the extent that two strikers and a right back were deployed across an imbalanced and ultimately ineffective midfield.

It was somewhat surprising to see Ross Callachan and Lewis Vaughan on the bench in these circumstances, but whether the young lads would have made any difference to this performance is debatable, as the standard of the team’s defending was awful.

The back four were all over the shop and cup final man of the match Dougie Hill ended up red carded with 15 minutes left after one mistake too many.

Given the heroic 120 minutes the defence produced at Easter Road, such a heavy-legged display was perhaps understandable, particularly for part-timer Hill, who also had to drag his aching body to work during the week.

There was an early warning that Raith were not at the races when the defence allowed a ball to bounce through to Gary Fleming in the box but Lee Robinson saved well.

Raith hit the woodwork in the 18th minute when Fleming headed against his own bar, but the visitors took the lead in the 22nd minute when Mark Gilhaney punished some half-hearted attempts to clear by drilling a low shot past Robinson.

The goal sparked Rovers to life and John Baird forced Jamie Ewings into a smart save with a powerful volley , but a defensive lapse allowed Dumbarton to double their lead through Mitch Megginson.

The Sons went 3-0 up shortly after half-time when Colin Nish diverted a Gilhaney shot past a wrong-footed Robinson - and the visitors looked capable of scoring every time they crossed the halfway line.

Smith, the only Rovers players who looked remotely sharp, gave the home side hope with a sweet curling effort from 22 yards in the 58th minute, but when last man Hill pulled back Fleming after struggling to clear a bouncing ball, referee Craig Charleston brandished a red card.

It was a forgettable end to an memorable week.

Raith Rovers: Robinson, Thomson, Booth, Hill, Watson, Mullen, Smith, Elliot, Spence (Vaughan 65), Baird, Anderson (Callachan 45). Not used: Donaldson, Ellis, Matthews, Bates, Laidlaw.

Dumbarton: Ewings, McGinn, Linton, Graham, McLaughlin, Turner, Gilhaney, Fleming (Murray 90), Megginson, Nish (Kane 78), Kirkpatrick (Agnew 76). Not used: Smith, McDougall, Prunty, Grindlay.

Referee: Craig Charleston

Attendance: 1602