Improvements on show as Raith take sting out of Wasps

Mark Stewart has an effort on the Alloa goal. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Mark Stewart has an effort on the Alloa goal. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Alloa Athletic 0 Raith Rovers 1

Recreation Park has proved a difficult venue for Raith Rovers in recent years, so there is every reason for the Kirkcaldy side to be delighted with Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win in Alloa.

The game will not be remembered as one of Rovers’ most attractive displays - the second half against Dumbarton the previous week was far more pleasing on the eye - but it wasn’t a day for pretty football.

A strong wind combined with a tight park and poor astroturf surface meant the game was never likely to be a classic - they rarely are when Raith visit the Recs.

It was situation that demanded an ugly win and that’s exactly what Grant Murray’s men delivered.

Ryan Conroy was Rovers’ goal hero, pouncing on hesitancy between goalkeeper and defender to smash home a half-volley at the back post in the fourth minute.

The winger’s left foot has already contributed three goals in four games and that’s despite missing most of pre-season. He looks to be a real gem of a signing.

The most pleasing aspect of the match thereafter was that Rovers held onto their lead for the next 86 minutes - a key area of improvement from last season.

Aside from a 10-minute burst of Alloa pressure before half-time, during which Rovers relied on a lucky bounce off the woodwork, there wasn’t too much to worry the travelling fans.

The second half was the most comfortable Rovers have been defending a lead for some considerable time.

The harder Alloa pushed for a breakthrough, the more Rovers resisted with the back four providing a solid backbone to a tenacious midfield.

Ross Perry and Rory McKeown produced their best performances since joining the club, while recent boo boys target Liam Fox also looked back to his best.

Had the decision-making been a little better in the final third Rovers could have killed the game earlier with Christian Nade a little guilty of not releasing the ball quickly enough.

Mark Stewart carried Raith’s main attacking threat, making space for himself with some sharp turns in and around the Alloa box and he was particularly unlucky with a first half shot that flashed just wide.

It’s only been a couple of weeks, but there are noticeable improvements from the unconvincing cup performances against Forfar and Dunfermline.

The team, and the manager, have regained the fans respect. Now it’s up to them to keep it.

Alloa Athletic: Gibson, Marr, Doyle, Meggatt, Gordon, McCord (Ferns 78), Simmons, Holmes, Cawley, Spence, Buchanan (Flannigan 66).

Not used: Tiffoney, Docherty, Hetherington, Asghar, McDowall.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, Perry, Watson, McKeown, Anderson (Moon 78), Conroy, Scott, Fox, Stewart (Vaughan 85), Nade.

Not used: Elliot, Callachan, Ellis, Matthews, Laidlaw.

referee: Alan Muir

Attendance: 858