Rampant Raith Rovers cruise to victory over newly-promoted Clyde

Grant Anderson (right) steps onto the wall at the front of the South Stand as he celebrates his goal with the Raith fans. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Grant Anderson (right) steps onto the wall at the front of the South Stand as he celebrates his goal with the Raith fans. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 5 Clyde 2

Raith Rovers were rampant as they cruised to victory over newly promoted Clyde at Stark's Park this afternoon.

The home side were every bit as dominant as the scoreline suggests, with the loss of two late goals when the match was already won doing little to take the shine off the result.

With five different scorers, Rovers were impressive all over the park, but most of all in midfield where the trio of Regan Hendry, Brad Spencer and Ross Matthews simply bossed the game with their movement, intensity and quality.

The performance of Hendry in particular was simply to be admired, so good in fact that visiting boss Danny Lennon - a Rovers hero in his playing days - went out of his way to praise him.

"I really enjoyed his performance, even though it hurt us," he commented. "A real good, tidy football player.

"We played a very good Raith Rovers side today. With that level of performance they'll be up there."

For home manager John McGlynn, there was plenty to be happy with, although he was irked by the goals conceded.

"Being a perfectionist you look at the two goals we lost, which was disappointing," he said.

"However, I think we were, on the day, three goals better than Clyde.

"I'm very happy with the performance, the movement of the team, the positions we picked up and the play that we developed."

Hendry stamped his authority on the game early on as he prevented a goal being conceded, before winning and converting a penalty, then setting up Kieron Bowie for the second - all inside the opening 25 minutes.

His first key involvement was in the second minute when he raced back to cover for a miscue by Kyle Benedictus, putting in a vital tackle on David Goodwillie to prevent the striker getting his shot away from close range.

Clyde were eager and competitive in the early exchanges, but once Rovers settled into their passing game, the away side were unable to live with them.

The opener arrived on 13 minutes with quick feet from Hendry in the box drawing a foul from Kieran Duffie as he was barged off the ball.

Hendry stepped up and confidently sent goalkeeper David Mitchell the wrong way to set Rovers on their way.

Clyde, to their credit, tried to fight back and a sharp turn from Goodwillie earned him a yard of space in the box and David McGurn was forced into action, saving the striker's low drive with his legs.

Rovers second goal arrived on 24 minutes with Hendry pulling the strings again, turning his man in midfield before running into space, ignoring the chance to shoot to send a disguised pass to Bowie, who had picked up a great position at the edge of the box.

The 16-year-old had plenty still to do, but showed his ability by controlling, turning and picking his spot past Mitchell.

Disappointingly, that was to be Bowie's last involvement as he took a whack on the back of the ankle moments later, forcing him off the pitch, and out of the midweek trip to Dingwall, as he was replaced by Joao Victoria

Rovers ended the half firmly in control, and they put the game to bed just four minutes into the second period, with Grant Anderson scoring a near replica of his winner against Dumbarton the previous week, outpacing his marker to latch onto a glorious through ball from Brad Spencer, before rolling a composed finish beyond Mitchell.

The home side were now enjoying total domination, although another injury setback saw Anderson replaced by youngster Jack Smith. The winger had tweaked his groin in the first half, making his running power for his goal all the more impressive.

It was no surprise when Rovers added a fourth on 63 minutes as sub Victoria raced onto another Spencer ball - a player who is showing a keen eye for a killer pass - before finding the bottom corner.

You could sense Raith taking their foot off the pedal at this stage, and a slip from Benedictus with 15 minutes left allowed Goodwillie clear on goal, but McGurn produced an excellent save, diving full stretch to push his effort behind.

But just two minutes later, a slack clearance from Iain Davidson, who otherwise had an immaculate match, allowed Ally Love to cross for Goodwillie to send the ball crashing into the net via the underside of the bar.

Any disappointment was quickly washed away as Rovers raced straight up the park and restored their four-goal advantage with youngster Smith getting his reward for his work-rate off the bench by getting on the end of a rebound in the centre of the box to steer home his first senior goal.

Again though, Rovers allowed concentration to drift in the closing stages, failing to react to short free-kick as Love fired the ball into the net from the edge of the box.

In the end it barely mattered, Rovers had won handsomely, collecting six points from six in the league, and given the 1500 home fans in a total crowd of 1707 plenty reason to return.

An enjoyable afternoon for the home support was rounded off by the players and staff heading over to the South Stand after full-time to sign autographs - it's the little things that matter.

There will be tougher afternoons where things are less plain sailing, but if this Raith side can turn up most weeks this season, and not the one we saw up at Cove a fortnight ago, then they will be a lot closer to the title than they were last season.