Rare victory for Raith Rovers in 2005

Darren Brady (right) celebrates with Jonathan Smart after scoring the opening goal.
Darren Brady (right) celebrates with Jonathan Smart after scoring the opening goal.

In January 2005 Raith Rovers fans were given a belated Christmas present of that rarest of things – a victory.

On the 15th of that month in front of a crowd of 1393, the Stark’s Park side which had lost its last seven matches brought a smile to the faces of the home support with a 2-0 win over St. Mirren.

It was only the second league win in 10 months for Gordon Dalziel’s side which was unsurprisingly battling relegation at the foot of Division One.

It was a rare highlight in what had been a gloomy start to the new year for the Rovers support as news had emerged that the cash-strapped club had asked fan favourite Paquito to join Hamilton in a bid to free up some much needed funds, which the 35-year-old midfielder had reluctantly agreed to.

Matthew Elder’s report in the Fife Free Press read: “On Saturday, for only the second time in 10 months, Raith Rovers won a league game.

“And while the two points gained in the win over St Mirren achieved little in terms of easing Rovers’ relegation woes, it did bring some much needed cheer back to Stark’s Park, where the level of depression was beginning to reach a critical point.

“With news of Paquito’s impending departure coming just days after last week’s Press revealed a board room split, another dismal defeat would have been unbearable for disillusioned fans.

“But the players rolled up their sleeves and fought hard for the victory that finally gave the Rovers faithful a reason to smile.

“Following the Scottish Cup defeat to Alloa front pair Herve Ebanda and Hamed Sacko were dropped from the squad completely.

“Back in came John Martin and Craig O‘Reilly while Iain Davidson returned after flu and fit again David Berthelot returned in goals.

“The first 45 minutes were awful with neither side able to contend with strong winds and a bumpy surface.

“Raith didn’t manage a shot on goal but the Buddies hardly fared better, Simon Lappin’s hurried strike which drifted wide being their only chance of the half.

“Although it wasn’t a good game to watch it was a solid as Rovers have looked at the back in some time and the defence continued to thwart the visitors after the break.

“But it was now reaching the stage of the game when St Mirren were expected to score; after all, it was what the home fans were used to.

“However, right out of the blue, Rovers snatched a surprise lead on the hour from the unlikeliest of sources.

“Paul McMullan curled a free-kick into the penalty box and diminutive midfielder Darren Brady climbed above the defence to send a powerful downward header into the bottom corner.

“The goal was only Brady’s second for Raith in his three years at the club.

“If that was unexpected then imagine the astonishment as Rovers doubled their lead within three minutes.

“McMullan was involved again sending O’Reilly scampering down the left and his inch-perfect cross was met by Martin.

“The young striker showed a composure in front of goal that Raith have missed all season to steer the ball into the corner from six yards.

“It was almost surreal to watch given the nature of the previous games at Stark’s Park this season.

“Furthermore, the way in which Rovers defended their two goal cushion was admirable as the visitors found no way back into the match.

“Their cause wasn’t helped by substitute John Baird who got himself sent off just seven minutes after coming on following a tackle on goal hero Brady that would not have looked out of place in a martial arts movie.

“St Mirren did have the ball in the net towards the end but Stewart Keane was offside when he latched onto a rebounded Berthelot save.

“The only down side to Rovers win was that it was witnessed by the lowest home support of the season.

“Perhaps the result will tempt a few back as Rovers look for a repeat against Queen of the South this Saturday.”

Speaking to the FFP after match, manager Gordon Dalziel said: ““The kids did really well.

“Our problem will be maintaining that over the course of the year.

“There will be lots of ups and downs but if they keep giving the same level of commitment then I’ll be happy.

“We got a couple of breaks that we’ve not been getting recently and getting the second goal so quick was very important.

“I thought the back three were tremendous. Iain Davidson had his best game in a Raith jersey and I’m looking for more of the same.

“I wasn’t happy with our front two in the first half but they responded to what I said at half time.

“They are Inexperienced and I will accept that they will lose games but I won’t accept them not giving 100 per cent.”

Raith Rovers: Berthelot, Ouattara, McMullan (Tulloch 88), Davidson, Smart, Bartholeme, Brady, Raffell (Young 75), O’Reilly (Malcolm 82), Martin, Miller. Subs not used: Leiper, Pounoussamy.

St Mirren: Hinchcliffe, Van Zanten (Murray 64), Broadfoot, Millen, McGowne, Reilly, Crilly, Lappin (Baird 70), Keane, McGinty (Russell 46), McCay. Subs not used: O’Neill.