Raith win at Forfar overshadowed by Lewis Vaughan injury fears

Lewis Vaughan is helped from the pitch after suffering another knee injury in the win over Forfar. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Lewis Vaughan is helped from the pitch after suffering another knee injury in the win over Forfar. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Forfar Athletic 1 Raith Rovers 2

Raith Rovers' first victory in Forfar in 12 years was overshadowed by another potentially serious knee injury for Lewis Vaughan.

Starting only his second match since recovering from a second ACL operation, the 23-year-old was carried from the pitch after turning on the ball and collapsing early in the second half.

Only minutes earlier, Vaughan had made a vital contribution, netting an equaliser to cancelled out Russell McLean's opener for the home side on the stroke of half-time.

Rovers went on to claim the three points thanks to an injury-time winner from Kieran MacDonald, but all thoughts afterwards were on the welfare of a player who Raith fans hold dear to their hearts.

"Lewis has had no luck whatsoever," said boss John McGlynn.

Raith players celebrate Keiran MacDonald's injury-time winner. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith players celebrate Keiran MacDonald's injury-time winner. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

"It's too early to make a judgement, but he's away to hospital, and we just have to keep our fingers crossed that it's not a serious injury."

Becoming visibly emotional, McGlynn, who handed Vaughan his debut at the age of 16 during his first spell in charge, added: "Everyone knows Lewis' story.

"You'll never meet a nicer boy in your life."

The victory took Raith two points clear at the top of League One after nearest challengers East Fife were held to a goalless draw at Falkirk.

It was a significant result for the Kirkcaldy side in more ways than one.

Not only was it their first victory at Station Park since 2007, it was also the first time Raith have won three league games in succession since McGlynn returned to the club one year ago.

Winning back-to-back away games was also a significant milestone for a team that has faced questions over its away form stretching back several campaigns.

The manner of this victory - coming from behind and going right to the wire - suggests Raith are finally coming up with the answers.

The first half was a largely lifeless affair with neither side able to conjure up a clear opening.

Forfar were restricted mostly to long range efforts from dangerman Ross Forbes, while Rovers were unable to get anyone on the end of some tempting crosses from the left.

The first half was heading towards stalemate when a blunder in the Rovers defence gifted the home side the advantage.

Iain Davidson was woefully short with a pass back, allowing McLean a free run on goal, and he chipped the ball over a stranded David McGurn.

The half-time whistle blew immediately after the restart and Rovers had made an already difficult away fixture even tougher for themselves.

Their start to the second half had been unconvincing with a fortunate let-off inside 60 seconds when Jordan Tapping blazed over the bar from the edge of the box while the immense Kyle Benedictus made a vital last-ditch challenge to prevent McLean netting his second.

But the importance of Vaughan was highlighted in the 51st minute when he timed his run from midfield to perfection to latch onto a Grant Anderson flick-on to race clear on goal.

He showed strength to hold off the back-tracking defender, before slamming the ball past Marc McCallum for his second goal in as many starts after an eight-month lay-off.

His match was cruelly ended just five minutes later - and the concern from both sides shows how highly he is regarded both by team mates and opposition.

The setback galvanised the team as Rovers were the stronger side throughout the second half, with Vaughan's replacement, Jamie Gullan, making a positive impact.

The sub crossed for Anderson to head wide, then went close with a long-range strike that whistled past the post, while he also tested McCallum with a strike from just inside the box.

John Baird was also brought off the bench to jeers from the home fans as he kick-started his third spell with Raith against his former club.

He almost made a heroic entrance, brilliantly controlling a cross ball to create space for a shot, only to blaze over the bar.

Rovers second half pressure looked to have been in vain until they struck in the first minute of injury-time.

Michael Miller did well down the right to pick out Gullan in the middle, who then fired across the face of goal for MacDonald to blast home from close range.

It was a goal which owed much to Raith's new 3-5-2 system, which encourages both wing-backs to get forward, but also to the new found resilience that has been developing week-on-week since the arrival of Steven Anderson.

It all augers well for the Kirkcaldy side ahead of next week's visit of title favourites Falkirk.

McGlynn added: "I thought we merited the victory, although it's came very late.

"Iain's made one mistake in the game - nobody's perfect - but the boys have dug him out.

"We've went on and won the game so we can forget about the mistake.

"Our away form is getting better, so if we can continue to do that, and keep our home form going, then there's good signs."