We kept our heads to beat Forfar, says Raith Rovers midfielder Ross Matthews

Ross Matthews chased by Forfar player assistant-manager John Baird. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Ross Matthews chased by Forfar player assistant-manager John Baird. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers midfielder Ross Matthews says discipline was key as the Kirkcaldy side claimed a 3-2 aggregate win over Forfar Athletic in the Championship play-off semi-final.

There were 13 bookings and one red card across two fiercely competitive ties, as Rovers followed a 2-1 home win at Stark's Park last Tuesday with a 1-1 draw at Station Park on Saturday to progress to the final.

Matthews was a stand-out across both legs, while he was also involved in a number of exchanges with Forfar player assistant-manager John Baird, which led to the Loons striker branding his former Rovers team mate a "disgrace" for insults made on the park.

However, Matthews insisted Rovers kept their composure while the tackles were flying in following the red card to Forfar defender Michael Travis.

"We expected that," Matthews said. "They are a physical team and we were up for the battle.

"We managed to keep our heads and play professionally to the end.

"You saw that throughout the performance

"Everyone tried their heart out and did well."

Baird had levelled the tie early in the second half by giving Forfar a 1-0 lead on the day, but Rovers edged through on aggregate thanks to a 59th penalty kick from Kevin Nisbet which followed the red card to Travis for pulling back Nathan Flanagan as he bore down on goal.

"I think we deserved it for the work-rate we put in, and the performance," Matthews said.

"I don't think they created much apart from the goal, which is a mistake on our part.

"It was a cheap goal to lose, but apart from that, over the two legs I think we deserved it."

Having tasted play-off semi-final defeats with Raith in each of the last three campaigns, Matthews is determined to make it all the way this time.

"It's been disappointing the last couple of years in the play-offs," he said.

"For the boys that have been here, myself included, that's just spurred us on to change that this year."

Rovers will now face Queen of the South in the play-off final and Matthews expects a difficult game following as the Doonhamers overcame a 2-1 first leg deficit by thrashing Montrose 5-0 on Saturday.

"We know they're a top team, and Stephen Dobbie a top player," he said. "It's up to us to try to stop him.

"We'll do work during the week, and hopefully we can stop them and achieve our aim of getting up to the Championship."