Drama in the stands as Raith boss John McGlynn sent off in derby defeat

John McGlynn takes up position behind the away dugout after being sent to the stand. Pic: Walter Neilson, FPA
John McGlynn takes up position behind the away dugout after being sent to the stand. Pic: Walter Neilson, FPA

East Fife 2 Raith Rovers 1

John McGlynn was sent to the stand as Raith Rovers crashed to a last-minute defeat in a frantic Fife derby at Bayview.

Rovers were leading with 14 minutes left thanks to Liam Buchanan's first half strike, but late goals from Kevin Smith and Aaron Dunsmore meant the Kirkcaldy side lost their unbeaten record against East Fife stretching back to 1988.

The other major talking point centred around McGlynn's 43rd minute dismissal, and the angry exchange which followed in the stands.

An East Fife representative was accused of manhandling the Raith boss as he attempted to take his seat immediately behind the away dugout.

The incident sparked a furious reaction in the away end, with some fans spilling towards the scene before being ushered away by police and stewards.

Raith initially raised a complaint with police, but the club has decided not to pursue the matter further.

McGlynn admitted he was left baffled by the events which unfolded.

"I was of the impression that as long as you're not in the technical area, you're alright," he said.

"I've seen other managers just sitting behind the dugout, but they said there was a designated seat, which I wasn't aware of.

"I've still not found the seat, but I'm told it was in beside fans.

"I don't know why there was such a stooshie about it. I thought they were a bit over the top."

McGlynn's sending off surrounded his reaction to a yellow card issued to Ross Matthews for a mistimed 50-50 challenge, which came just a minute after referee David Munro had let East Fife's Kevin Smith off the hook for putting his boot into goalkeeper Robbie Thomson when he had the ball in his hands.

"It's the consistency of one decision to another," he said.

"If Kevin Smith gets booked then I just accept the booking for Ross Matthews.

"I just lost it, but I thought he was very quick in sending me to the stand.

"I've been in the game a long time and I've seen a lot worse than that.

"I'm just back in at this level so I don't know the referees and whether he's inexperienced or not, but I think it was a rash decision."

The incident had little bearing on the match, however, and Raith can have no complaints over leaving Bayview with nothing.

Indeed, McGlynn was much more concerned by his team's second half collapse, which he watched from the directors box, as they slipped 10 points behind league leaders Arbroath.

"We shouldn't be losing games from winning positions," he said.

"It's very similar to Forfar where we were in front, allowed our opponents to get back in the game, and we leave with nothing.

"We have to keep going for 90 minutes."

Rovers handed a debut to former Wolves winger Daniel Armstrong, who made an encouraging contribution, but it was veteran frontman Buchanan who stole the show early on with a wonderful opening goal to cap a fine first half performance.

Nathan Flanagan was key in the build-up, winning possession before picking out Buchanan with a forward pass. The striker had plenty to do when he received the ball 20 yards from goal, but a cute nutmeg on defender Daryl Meggat put him in the clear and his finish beyond Brett Long was emphatic.

Buchanan was everywhere in the opening 45 - his best display in a Raith shirt for some time - with Flanagan also at the heart of several good moves. Matthews and Nat Wedderburn bossed the midfield, and Iain Davidson and Kyle Benedictus were dominant in defence.

Second balls were being won all over the park putting Rovers firmly on the front foot.

Everything was going according to plan, apart from missing chances, with Buchanan unable to beat Long with a free header from six yards, while Armstrong was also guilty of passing up a glorious headed opportunity.

Buchanan was also a fraction away from converting a Flanagan ball across a gaping goal, and when half-time came, the only criticism of Raith was the failure to add to their one-goal tally.

The Kirkcaldy side were already missing several key players through injury, and when Davidson failed to reemerge for the second half, it only added further problems to an already weakened side.

With only teenagers on the bench, McGlynn brought on young Jamie Watson, which meant right-back Euan Murray moved into the middle, unsettling a defence which had been comfortable throughout the first 45.

Goalkeeper Thomson had an easy first half, but he was suddenly called into serious action, making a superb double-save to deny both Ross Davidson and Mark Docherty. He also had to scramble off his line to make a point-blank stop at the feet of Smith.

The first half pattern had reversed with East Fife now winning balls and pushing forward, and while Raith had chances to hurt them on the break, they were unable to make them count, with top scorer Kevin Nisbet denied even a single shot on goal.

Rovers were just about coping with the pressure until they once again conceded from a poorly defended set-piece with 14 minutes left.

A ball to the back post was nodded down to Smith and the striker swept it home at the near post.

There was no lack of desire from both sides as they sought a winner, but with better use of the ball and more energy to their play, Fife always looked the more likely - and so it proved as the clock struck 90.

With the game stretched, Raith conceded possession in their own half, and Dunsmore picked his spot past Thomson with a well-controlled strike from 20 yards to spark scenes of bedlam in the home end.

East Fife 'keeper Long had goaded the Raith fans at the equaliser, and after running towards them again at the winner, referee Munro brandished a red card, when most inside the ground were expecting a yellow.

However, there was no time left for the Kirkcaldy men to take advantage of the extra man and the full-time whistle brought the home side the derby win they had long craved.

For a Raith side ravaged by injury, a defeat at Bayview to an East Fife side who recently won eight in a row is no embarrassment, but there will need to be an improvement in away form if the League One title race is not to become a foregone conclusion by Christmas.

One defeat does not erase the bragging rights Raith have enjoyed over the past 30 years, but today belonged to East Fife.