Kelty goalkeeper answers Raith SOS

Firhill Park'P.Thistle VS Raith Rovers'PT 7 Steven Lawless in actions'9th September 2012'pic: Roberto Cavieres
Firhill Park'P.Thistle VS Raith Rovers'PT 7 Steven Lawless in actions'9th September 2012'pic: Roberto Cavieres

ALAN Fleming was the only Raith Rovers player to leave Firhill with a smile on his face after making his senior debut in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Partick Thistle.

The 28-year-old Kelty Hearts goalkeeper was a shock starter in the Ramsdens Cup quarter-final after suspension and injury left Raith without both first and second choice ‘keepers.

And Fleming, who played in Kelty’s 4-2 win over St Andrews United the previous day, was delighted to answer Rovers SOS.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was a great experience.

“I had a sneaky suspicion I would be involved because the manager phoned last Friday and asked if I would be available to sit on the bench because David McGurn was suspended.

“I got the go-ahead from Kelty, but then I got another call on Thursday saying not to rule out the possibility of playing because Ross Laidlaw had hurt himself in training.

“I finally got it confirmed on Saturday night that I’d be starting - aye thanks very much!

“I’ve been training with the Rovers boys for a year and a half so I wasn’t like I was coming in with strangers. I know the boys and the set-up.

“It’s just unfortunate that on my debut we were on the end of a 3-0 drubbing.”

Fleming started his career at Cowdenbeath but left for junior football aged 21 after failing to break into the first team.

Sunday was his first senior game, and the experience was made extra special with the fact that the match was broadcast live on BBC Alba.

“When you’re in the game you don’t really think about being on the telly,” he said. “But I’ve got umpteen missed calls and text messages.

“It was a good experience even though we got beat - but the Partick fans are something else.

“I’m going to slaughter the kit man for giving me pink socks. I got absolute dogs abuse, but it’s all part of the fun.”

Fleming may be asked to sit on the Rovers bench again this Saturday as the club monitors Ross Laidlaw’s fitness.

“I’ll go back to Kelty same as normal, but I think the Raith gaffer is keen for me to keep training, so who knows,” he said.

“At the moment I’m just concentrating on junior football, and I’m hoping to be part of the next Scotland squad.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what comes with the Rovers.”

Rovers hopes of reaching their first Challenge Cup semi-final since 2003 were dashed in seven second half minutes.

Goals from Chris Erskine, 50 and 57, and Steven Craig, 52, gave Thistle a 3-0 win, leaving Rovers player-manager Grant Murray with plenty to ponder.

“We had to make a couple of changes but that’s part and parcel of football,” he said.

“It’s the size of squad we’ve got so we’ve got to adapt.

“We had to bring a goalkeeper in from the juniors, but he did well for us.

“We certainly couldn’t fault him for any of the goals.

“We felt the first half went well as we’d managed to stop Partick creating as many chances as they have in recent games, and we were well in the game.

“But the first goal was always going to be key and we were disappointed to lose it in the manner we did, from a throw-in, although some of our guys are saying it wasn’t even Partick’s throw.

“We seemed to feel sorry for ourselves after that and we crumbled.”