Second-half turnaround sees Raith Rovers go through to last 16 of SPFL Trust Trophy
On target for the Fifers at home at Kirkcaldy’s Stark’s Park to Northern Ireland Football League Premiership outfit Cliftonville were Adam Masson on 50 minutes, Lewis Vaughan on 69 and Jack Hamilton on 73.
They’re next in action in the last 16 of the trophy, alias the Scottish Challenge Cup, in mid-October to vie for progress to its quarter-finals in November.
Raith manager Ian Murray was happy to see his side – with Robbie Thomson in goal for the first half-hour before going off injured and Kevin Dabrowski after that – keep a clean sheet, muster eight shots on target to their visitors’ two and progress in a competition they’ve won twice outright and shared once.
“In cups, it’s about getting through and we got through well in the end,” he told Raith TV afterwards.
“We created loads of chances in the second half.
“We had to work hard for that. We had to move the ball a bit quicker than we did in the first half and try and put our fitness to better use. I think we saw that in the second half. We really got forward and came through the game well.
“In the first ten or 15 minutes, we weren’t quite at it. We were a bit laboured in our possession of the ball.
“We gave them a couple of opportunities. We could have found ourselves 1-0 down and should have been 1-0 down but for a really good save from Robbie.
“Then we got to grips with the game. In the last 20 minutes of the first half, we started to dominate the ball a bit more, though without creating really anything of note.
“Half-time was all about saying let’s not lose the decent run we’re on here today at home and let’s keep our home form up to a high standard and place more demands on each other and move the ball quicker, and once we’d done that, we did okay.
“We’ve got good leaders in the dressing room and good demands and we must keep that going.”
Murray, 42, was impressed by the performance put in by Masson at both ends of the pitch, the 18-year-old not only helping keep a clean sheet at centre-half in a back four also including Ross Millen, Euan Murray and Liam Dick but contributing a goal too.
“It was a fine performance again from Adam,” he said.
“It was a great time to score, just after half-time. It settled us down.
“I like the way Adam managed himself in the game. He didn’t get too cocky, as scoring can go to your head sometimes.
“He did what he was there to do, which, first and foremost, was to defend, and then for him to pop up with his first goal for the club, I’m absolutely delighted for him.
“It’s a moment that he won’t forget and it’s probably a strange feeling for him as well.
“He deserves all the plaudits he’s going to get.”
The draw for the fourth round of the trophy is scheduled for this Thursday, at 1pm, and it can be seen live on the Scottish Professional Football League’s YouTube channel.
Next up for Raith is a visit from Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday on Scottish Championship business, with kick-off at 3pm.