Raith disappointed after opening day draw in Stranraer

Liam Buchanan scored a first half opener for Raith. Pic: Eddie Doig
Liam Buchanan scored a first half opener for Raith. Pic: Eddie Doig

Stranraer 1 Raith Rovers 1

Raith expressed regret over a below-standard second-half display on Saturday, with 'two points dropped' being the main summary of the long voyage to Stranraer.

The Kirkcaldy side looked in control in the opening spell of the first League One encounter of the new season and enjoyed a gift-wrapped half-time lead, following a penalty box blunder by the unlucky Jamie Hamill.

However, the home side levelled early in the second period with an attractively-constructed goal and that gave them the impetus to tighten the challenge on Barry Smith's men.

Rovers conceded that Stair Park is a tough place from which to mine points but were disappointed not to have held that first-half advantage, and built on it.

"We said to the boys it's a difficult place to come and play but, when you are in a winning position, it's got to be looked at as two points dropped," said manager Smith.

"I thought in the first half, we looked really organised and played very well. In the second half, we started sloppily and allowed Stranraer to dictate the game.

"For as much as we thought we had the possession and dominated the first half, we never tested the 'keeper enough,

"After the goal, we didn't really get any reaction, or look as if we were the team who would go on to win it. That's disappointing from our point of view."

There were fears that Raith's early-season injury problems might have been exacerbated with the first attack of the game, when 'keeper Kieran Wright dived courageously at Grant Anderson's feet. But the shot-stopper recovered after the move, in which the ex-Rover was put through by a great pass from Luke Donnelly.

In the ninth minute, Liam Buchanan made an aggressive charge through the middle for Rovers and laid off to Euan Valentine on the left, but his cross flew straight into the arms of home goalkeeper Max Currie.

Raith eventually took greater custody of the ball and settled into more of a rhythm. On the half-hour, Buchanan was presented with a surprise chance and took it well, scoring with virtually Rovers' first shot on target.

Ross Matthews was menacing the Stranraer rearguard during the Raith attack and, while there appeared to be little danger, Hamilll blundered while trying to control the ball in the box and Buchanan reacted clinically.

Come the second half, however, Stranraer forced Raith into some stout defending before finding an equaliser in the 52nd minute.

Callum McManus delivered a sweet flick with the outside of the boot to send Anderson through and, despite the attentions of David McKay, he squeezed in a left-foot shot which saw the ball saunter over the line after clipping both posts.

Six minutes later, Mark Lamont surged through from out of nowhere to snap up an Adam Cummins cross but a relieved Rovers rearguard saw the effort go wide.

Cummins was back to make an excellent defensive challenge on Valentine in the 68th minute after an eye-catching assist from sub Milne was helped on its way by Gillespie.

Ian Smith looked to have found a way through for Stranraer but skipper Kyle Benedictus made a first-rate tackle, while McKay was on hand to block another couple of the home side's advances.

Raith's final chance came around five minutes from time when Euan Murray smacked in a powerful volley from the edge of the box which was well saved by Currie.

Stranraer - Currie, Hamill, Cummins, McDonald, D. Smith, McGowan, I. Smith (Lidington 88), Lamont (Turner 70), Donnelly, Anderson (Ashmoerw 79). Subs (not used) - Avci, Brownlie.

Raith Rovers - Wright, Watson, Valentine (Flanagan 71), Murray, Benedictus, Gillespie, Buchanan Milne 65), Matthews, Wedderburn, Nisbet, McKay. Subs (not used) - McGuff, Stevenson.

Referee - David Lowe.