Hibs win caps a wonderful week for Raith

Lewis Vaughan celebrates his winning goal with Ross Callachan - Credit -  Fife Photo Agency -
Lewis Vaughan celebrates his winning goal with Ross Callachan - Credit - Fife Photo Agency -

Raith Rovers 2 Hibernian 1

Raith Rovers capped a wonderful winning week that has brought the good times back to Stark’s Park with a 2-1 victory over Hibs on Saturday.

Once again it was Mark Stewart and Lewis Vaughan who shared the goals as the on-form strike partnership fired Rovers to their third home win in seven days.

It took a spirited, resolute Rovers performance to defeat a strong Hibs side who dominated possession and goal attempts on a blustery afternoon in Kirkcaldy.

The game brought back memories of visits to Stark’s Park in the 1990s when so-called bigger clubs were often humbled by Raith teams moulded on team spirit and home-grown talent.

To regard the win as a smash and grab would be to overlook Rovers’ gutsy second half display, as they both defended, and counter-attacked, with a fair degree of skill and determination.

However, Rovers were certainly fortunate in a goalless first half as only the woodwork, twice, and some last-ditch defending kept Hibs at bay.

The visitors surged forward straight from kick-off as Dylan McGeough cut inside from the left wing in the first minute and fired in a powerful low 18-yard shot that goalkeeper David McGurn did well to hold.

The woodwork came to Rovers’ rescue on seven minutes as marauding wing back David Gray burst into the box from the right wing and rolled a shot past McGurn that bounced back off the far post.

The visitors came close again on 29 minutes when Dominic Malonga escaped his marker in a crowded box to head Gray’s cross against the bar with McGurn beaten.

The game brought back memories of visits to Stark’s Park in the 1990s when so-called bigger clubs were often humbled by Raith teams moulded on team spirit and home-grown talent.

A minute later, Ryan Conroy was in the right place to head off the line at the back post after Sam Stanton flicked a Hibs corner towards goal.

Raith were camped in their own half, unable to keep possession whenever they crossed the halfway line, and were thankful for the half-time whistle.

Hibs remained on the front foot at the start of the second half, but Rovers also raised their game and remarkably took the lead on 53 minutes with their first shot of any description.

Jason Thomson’s cross found Stewart lurking near the penalty spot, and the striker’s new-found confidence was evident as he hooked a sublime first-time volley beyond Mark Oxley.

Rovers lead lasted only two minutes however as Scott Allan’s 25-yard shot took a wicked deflection, looping over the Raith defence to the inrushing Fraser Fyvie, who showed great composure to slide the ball beyond McGurn.

Malonga then sent a header just wide as Hibs pushed for a second, but Raith were now much more positive in possession, launching several promising counter-attacks, with Stewart close to grabbing his second as his deflected effort was pushed behind by Oxley.

With 15 minutes left, McGurn made the save of the match, denying the impressive Gray after the wing back had once again found himself in the opposition box, latching onto Allan’s defence-splitting pass, but the Raith ‘keeper stood tall to block his effort.

While Hibs freshened up their attack with subs Jason Cummings and Farid El Alagui, Raith replaced Grant Anderson with Barrie McKay and goalscorer Stewart with Christian Nade – the man who has haunted Hibs this season with two point-earning equalisers at Easter Road – and almost inevitably, he had a big say in Rovers’ winner.

The ex-Hearts forward showed great power and pace to bulldoze his way into the box before rolling the ball into the path of Conroy, whose first-time shot was parried by Oxley, only for youngster Vaughan to force the rebound over the line.

The teenager celebrated his fifth goal in six starts, and Rovers’ defence, superbly marshalled once again by rock-solid centre-halves Paul Watson and Craig Barr, absorbed late Hibs pressure to hold on for a terrific three points.

Rovers are now just five points behind in the race for fourth place and next week’s game at Falkirk now looks a lot more meaningful than it did at the start of the week.

Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Barr, Watson, McKeown, Anderson (McKay 64), Fox, Callachan, Conroy, Vaughan, Stewart (Nade 81). Subs: Cuthbert, Hill, Elliot, Robertson, Matthews.

Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Watson, Fontaine, Stevenson, Robertson, Fyvie, Allan, McGeouch, Stanton (Cummings 66), Malonga (El Alagui 77). Subs: Cerny, Craig, Boyle, Djedje, Forster.

Referee: Alan Muir

Attendance: 3183