Inverness 2-1 Raith Rovers

Grant Gillespie's strike was world class.
Grant Gillespie's strike was world class.

Raith’s Betfred Cup campaign may be almost over for another season, but manager Barry Smith has plenty of positives to take from his side’s group efforts.

Safe to say things didn’t get off to the best of starts with a surprising slump against Cowdenbeath.

A defeat like the 2-0 opening day reversal to Raith’s Fife rivals certainly stung, but that would have been compounded further had Smith’s side not responded in the proper manner.

Anyone watching their two follow up games, against Hearts and Inverness, would have seen for themselves exactly how Raith reacted, and they’ll aim to take that standard of performance into the final group game at Cove on Saturday.

Hearts had been held by Raith at their temporary home of Bayview on Saturday with the side then on its travels to Inverness on Tuesday night.

It’s not the easiest place to go and get a result, and with Caley having won their opening two group games, the odds were against Smith’s men against the Championship side.

It wasn’t pretty at times as Raith’s squad was stretched to the limit again.

Just four subs were listed with Kevin Nisbet asked to lead the line on his own due to Chris Duggan’s absence.

He did fine, but it was at the back Raith had to do most of their work in the opening half.

Brad McKay, Nathan Austin and Tom Walsh all threatened, but found the Raith defensive unit too well drilled to break down.

It was going to take something special to spark the game into life, and that duly arrived shortly after the break.

The ball broke kindly for former East Fife striker Nathan Austin on the edge of the box.

He managed to shuffle the ball from under his feet and curled a sublime effort beyond Robbie Thomson and into the corner of the net.

It was a goal of quality - but topped by Raith a matter of minutes later.

Lewis Milne stood his corner kick up into the box where it was met flush on the volley by Grant Gillespie.

Mark Ridgers made a valliant attempt to get his hand to it but, in truth, the ball had hit the net long before he could move.

This set the game up for a grandstand finish which never really arrived.

Neither side went particularly close in the closing stages and it seemed the game would end a draw and a penalty shoot-out.

That was until the closing moments, when Caley sub Daniel Mackay popped up with a late, late winner.