Raith Rovers 3, Stranraer 0
Patince is a virtue which manager Barry Smith has been trying to instil in his Raith Rovers squad – and it worked perfectly in Saturday’s first home league game of the new campaign.
Rovers pinched a goal near the end of a very evenly-spread first 45 minutes against Stranraer, but came out more aggressively in the second half and scored a swift brace to leave a well-organised Stranraer side with too big a task.
Lewis Vaughan hit the first and third counters of the afternoon, to earn him the man of the match award, with Greig Spence scored the other after the vistiors’ defence had been forced into a frightful mix-up.
Manager Barry Smith said Rovers had been passing and moving the ball around while awaiting opportunities, but that approach had ultimately been successful and there may be more days like it throughout the season.
“It’s about being patient at times,” he added. “Stranraer, I think, will be up in the top four this season – they have good experience and good players in their team. But it was our home game and we wanted to win it.
“I think we showed we have quality and patience, which can hurt can teams.”
Smith had told the players to be patient in the second half and, at the right time, to move things on. “The boys are physically fit and we have tried to get that mental toughness into them as well, where result like that matter, and a winning mentality will go a long way through the season,” he said.
“It’s great time to score a goal, just before half time, but I think they had other opportunities in the first half as well, Scoring just before half time also allows us to go in and regroup, and make sure anything that wasn’t quite right gets sorted and is better in the second half.
“In fairness to Stranraer, I think they threw a lot at us in the first half and then at the tail end of the second half.”
Rovers won a corner without reward inside the opening half-minute, and Vaughan later did an excellent job of defending, tackling Liam Dick with composure in the box after a dangerous-looking move involving Ryan Thomson.
Rovers were presented with a great chance in the 12th minute after David Barron let the ball squirm past him, putting Spence through on goal. However, he screwed the shot narrowly wide of keeper Cammy Belford’s left-hand post.
Stranraer were caught offside on several occasions but both sides passed the ball impressively enough between themselves in the first half. Jason Thomson sent in a troublesome cross from the right which was spilled and fumbled by Belford, but Liam Buchanan fouled the ‘keeper as he tried to take advantage of the slip-up.
At the other end on 20 minutes, Raith stopper Aaron Lennox dealt well with a low diagonal shot inside the box by Kyle Turner.
Stranraer forced Raith into some haphazard defending for a spell but the home side responded with a sweet pass from Buchanan to Scott Robertson, whose shot was saved in the 35th minute by Belford’s feet.
Three minutes from half-time came the breakthrough for Rovers, with virtually nothing until then to separate the sides. Rovers worked a forward move through the middle and Buchanan appeared to be brought down in the area. Numerous players – and spectators – halted to see if referee Mike Roncone would award a penalty, but he made no gesture, and Vaughan carried on to collect the ball and tuck it past Belford.
The start of the second half saw a couple of quickfire shots, neither on target, from Vaughan and Ross Callachan, as Rovers tried to press home the initiative early on.
Vaughan sent Buchanan clear with an impudent litle mid-air backheel, but Barron was back well to cover for Stranraer..
A long ball from deep in the Rovers half led to the second goal after 61 minutes when an advance by Buchanan and Vaughan cause d a hopeless tangle between the visiting centre backs. Belford also committed himself at the wrong time, allowing Spence to shoot easily into an unguarded net.
Raith moved comfortably clear three minutes later when Bobby Barr collected a long ball and went on an aggressive surging run – of which he made several in the second half – squaring for Vaughan to net his second goal.
Some frustration crept into the play soon afterwards as Stranraer realised the game had, in all probability, slithered away from them. But they still showed intent, making a triple substitution in the 70th mnute, after which a hopeful effort by Ryan Wallace required a goal-line clearance from Kyle Benedictus.
One of the Stranraer subs, Scott Agnew, scooped a shot over the bar with pretty much Stranraer’s last chance to take something from the game.
Two-goal Lewis Vaughan said afterwards: “Teams are well organised in this division - they are hard to break down at the start of the game.
“I think we did get goal at the right time, just before half time, and it took the stuffing out of them a wee bit.
“I think we dominated the second half. The result shows that and it could have been a couple more, if we’d taken chances.”
Stranraer manager Stevie Farrell said he wasn’t sure it was a 3-0 game, as his side were “really good” in the first half, although they had lost two very disappointing goals in the second period, and he suspected the final Raith goal may have been offside. Nevertheless, he wished Barry Smith’s men good luck in the campaign.
Raith Rovers – Lennox, Thomson, McHattie, Callachan, Murray, Benedictus, Spence, Robertson (Osei 88), Buchanan (Matthews 72), Vaughan (Berry 88), Barr. Subs (not used) – Brian, Court, McKay, Bell.
Stranraer – Belford, Robertson, Dick, Barron, Neill, Bell, Hamill (Agnew 70), Anderson (Woods 70), Turner, Thomson (Okoh 70), Wallace. Subs (not used) – Currie, Lang, McKinlay, Stoney.