Raith show clinical side in cup win over Brora

Raith sub Yaw Osei strokes home the third goal against Brora. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Raith sub Yaw Osei strokes home the third goal against Brora. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 3 Brora Rangers 0

They made heavy weather of it at times, but in the end, Raith Rovers managed to see off stubborn Brora Rangers to progress in the Irn-Bru Cup.

Ross Tokely's Highland League outfit produced a spirited display, creating as many chances as their League One opponents, but three clinical finishes ensured a more comfortable scoreline than was actually the case.

With Raith having put six past Highland League Buckie Thistle in the Betfred Cup last month, the home fans might have hoped for another goal-fest.

But for long spells they struggled to break down a resolute Rangers rearguard, while relying on goalkeeper Aaron Lennox to make one or two important saves at the other end.

Afterwards, first team coach Kevin Cuthbert accepted that, while pleased with the outcome, aspects of the performance could have been better.

He said: "I don't think we were at our best and we caused our own problems at times, but we've won the game 3-0, so we move on.

"It's the sign of a good team when you're winning a game 3-0 and still wanting to improve."

Manager Barry Smith made three changes from the side that defeated Stranraer by the same scoreline on Saturday, resting Scott Robertson and Liam Buchanan out of the squad, while Kyle Benedictus was named on the bench.

Coming in for his first competitive start was 18-year-old midfielder James Berry, who looked comfortable on the ball throughout, while Ross Matthews and Iain Davidson also returned to the fold.

The visitors put their stamp on the game in the early stages by forcing Rovers to defend three corners inside the opening two minutes.

The Highlanders remained on the front foot and only a stunning save from Lennox denied the Cattachs a shock opener on 13 minutes.

Andrew Greig's cross caught the Raith flat-footed, leaving Scott Graham free to ghost into the box on his own but his close range volley was tipped wide by the agile Australian.

Rovers punished that miss just three minutes later when, in their first meaningful attack, captain Ross Callachan timed his run to perfection to latch onto a Bobby Barr cross unmarked and glance home a header from 10 yards.

However, Rangers refused to capitulate and with Raith unable to find space in the opposition half, the visitors goal was rarely troubled again before half-time.

Brora continued to frustrate Raith after the break, and even started to grow in confidence as they pressed for an equaliser, with the home fans starting to show their frustration as one or two aimless balls drifted out of play.

However, the mood changed on 65 minutes when Lewis Vaughan, who was having a quiet night by his recent standards, grabbed his eighth goal of the campaign, running in behind the defence to fire a volley high past 'keeper Daniel Hoban for 2-0.

The tie looked beyond Brora now although they continued to fight for a way back into the game with Mark Nicolson smacking the bar from distance and sub Kyle MacLeod forcing Lennox into two superb one-handed saves within the space of a minute.

However, Raith made the game completely safe in the 84th minute when sub Yaw Osei showed tremendous pace to pounce on hesitation between defender and 'keeper to waltz clear and roll the third into an empty net for his first goal for the first team after a prolific season in the development squad.

For all this was Highland League opposition, it's encouraging that Raith can rest key players, play below par, yet still emerge 3-0 winners.

Raith Rovers: Lennox, Thomson, McHattie, Davidson, Murray, Berry (Osei 63), Barr, Callachan, Spence (Court 86), Vaughan (Benedictus 89), Matthews. Not used: Brian, Mackay, Watson, Bell.

Brora Rangers: Hoban, Houston, MacDonald, Williamson, Duff, Morrison, Nicolson, Greig (Gunn 78), Maclean, Graham (Campbell 87), Sutherland (MacLeod 70). Not used: Grant, Paterson, Brindle.

Referee: Steven Reid

Attendance: 971