Raith Rovers 1 Dundee 2
Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon detected signs of weariness among his players following a third straight defeat to Premiership opposition in seven days.
After tough work-outs against both Hearts and Aberdeen, Rovers completed a gruelling week of friendly action with a 2-1 defeat to a strong Dundee side at Stark’s Park.
In an honest assessment of the performance, McKinnon admitted that there were positives and negatives to take from the latest match.
“That was our third game in a week against Premiership opposition and I think we were a bit leggy in the first half,” he said.
“Dundee are a good side, and when I looked at their team sheet, there was no messing about from them tonight. They had a strong side out.
“Dundee passed the ball really well and we had to work really hard, but we gave the ball away cheaply in the first half and made it easy for them.
“We worked on something the other day about being really positive with our passing and we just didn’t do it in the first half.
“Dundee made us run all over the park, let’s be honest.
“There were things I was disappointed with, so I had a good chat with them at half-time and we upped it a wee bit in the second half.
“It was important that we got the goal, and for a 15-minute period I thought we did well and we had a wee bit more prurpse.
“But that’s three tough games in a week for us, so I’m really pleased, and it was nice to come away with a fairly decent performance after that.”
McKinnon gave a first start of pre-season to goalkeeper David McGurn, while there was also a first outing for striker Mark Stewart following his recovery from injury.
Dundee fielded an attacking line-up which reunited the prolific former Cowdenbeath strike partnership between Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings, and the pair were a constant threat.
The visitors showed their intent straight from kick-off as with just 60 seconds on the clock, Hemmings pounced on a loose touch in the Raith defence, and smashed a rocket shot off the post from 25 yards.
Raith then hit the frame of the goal at the other end of seven minutes as Scott Bain spilled a Mark Stewart effort, and Lewis Vaughan cracked the rebound off the underside of the crossbar.
Hemmings looked Dundee’s most dangerous player, and he duly provided the opener in the 23rd minute.
A bad giveaway from Ryan McCord in midfield allowed Dundee to break on an outnumbered Raith defence and after being slipped in by Nick Ross, the striker fired low past McGurn at his near post.
Only a stunning reflex save from McGurn denied Hemmings a second goal before the break.
The Englishman showed great feet in the box to create space for a shot, and although the Raith ‘keeper saw the effort late, he still managed to turn it behind for a corner.
McGurn was at fault, however, as the Dark Blues extended their lead three minutes into the second half.
He appeared to let a Stewart cross slip through his hands and half-time substitute Julen Etxabeguren had a tap-in at the back post.
Raith responded positively and after 232 goalless minutes, scored their first goal of pre-season as Grant Anderson’s driven low cross was turned home by James Craigen in the 52nd minute.
Raith were perkier after the goal and enjoyed a spell of pressure that saw Ross Callachan sting the palms of Bain with a powerful effort from distance.
There was a glorious chance for a Raith equaliser on the hour as Vaughan set up the unmarked Stewart in the centre of the box, but the striker’s touch was heavy allowing Bain to get to the ball first.
There were few chances in the final 20 minutes as both sides took the opportunity to make a number of changes, and Dundee held on comfortably for the win.
Raith are next in friendly action away to East Fife on Saturday.
“We’ll maybe freshen it up for Saturday because a few of them are carrying niggles,” McKinnon added.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson (Ford 85), McKeown, Toshney, Benedictus (Bates 76), Callachan (Petrie 70), Anderson (Megginson 63), McCord (Matthews 70), Stewart, Vaughan, Craigen (Robertson 76). Not used: Cuthbert, Laidlaw, Court, Campbell.
Dundee: Bain, Irvine (McGinn 45), Holt, Konrad (Etxabeguren 45), McPake (Meggatt 45), Stewart, Low, Loy (Tankulic 45), Harkins, Hemmings (Roberts 68), Ross (Black 68). Not used: Mitchell.