Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dees Do The Double

Click here or read below for my match report of the fixture at Starks Park this evening. It was published on the official Raith Rovers website.

Raith Rovers 1 v 2 Dundee

Dundee battled to a narrow win over Raith Rovers tonight for the second time in as many weeks.

Sean Higgins scored 2 goals for the Dees on either side of half time, while a curling Allan Walker freekick temporarily brought the hosts level for 4 minutes.

Overall, the Starks Park side failed to click while their opponents from over the Tay looked dangerous every time they attacked the table toppers.

Indeed, it was the away side who dominated the first 10 minutes, with playmaker Gary Harkins in deadly form. It was he who broke through the Rovers defence after 5 minutes, threading a neat pass to Craig Forsyth, but the winger's effort was well saved by Rovers goalkeeper Andy McNeil.

Minutes later, Harkins was creating move havoc and would have scored were it not for the diving McNeil just managing to tip his shot wide of the post.

Raith, struggling to get a foothold in the game, had a half chance on the 12th minute when a long throw was received by Walker, but his 20 yard strike sailed over the bar.

The Kirkcaldy side began to force their way into the game and Dundee failed to threaten again till the 27th minute. Trialist Craig Robertson ran down the left side of the pitch and crossed in a perfect ball to Higgins, but the 26-year-old almost lackadaisically swung a shot on goal and McNeil was able to gather.

On the half hour mark Harkins was causing trouble again as he drove at the Raith defence and played a through ball to Forsyth who was about to pull the trigger until Mark Campbell made a superb last ditch tackle.

However, in an almost identical move Raith conceded just 1 minute later. This time it was Forsyth who would sprint through the Rovers half crossing a decent ball into the path of Higgins who coolly slotted the ball past McNeil to send the away side a goal to the good at half time.

The second half was started at a frantic pace by Raith, who may have been on the receiving end of a few hastening words from manager John McGlynn at the break. Just moments into the second period, Gregory Tade did well to run through the Dundee defence and one-on-one with goalkeeper Rab Douglas looked set to shoot, but changed his mind and aimed a pass at Walker which was cut off by the ensuing Dees defence.

The home fans' groans turned to cheers on the 50th minute after Iain Davidson was hauled down just outside the box and Walker stepped up to curl a superb 25 yard freekick into the bottom corner of the goal leaving Douglas helpless and the hosts back on level terms.

Unfortunately for the Starks Park faithful, Rovers were only level for 4 minutes as a Harkins cross was bundled into the net by Higgins for his second goal of the night.

The goal was a huge kick in the teeth for Rovers and were lucky to have 11 men still on the park when Davidson, already on a yellow card, committed a professional foul on the edge of the box, but referee Iain Brines, who took charge of the Old Firm derby on Sunday, decided the challenge was not enough to merit a booking.

The match started to become quite physical with both teams desperate to find another goal. However, it would be the away side who struck next with the chance falling to Stephen O'Donnell. On the 67th minute O'Donnell received a pass into the box and found himself with just McNeil to beat, but the former Hibee pulled off a spectacular diving save. Thirty seconds later, O'Donnell received the ball again, this time on the edge of the box, but his shot was cleared off the line.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Raith had Campbell to thank again as he made another goal saving challenge on Harkins. However, the former Blackburn youth continued to carve open opportunities for his side as he combined with Forsyth again, but McNeil made the save.

Iain Williamson, Gary Wales and Graham Weir replaced Stephen Simmons, Scott McBride and John Baird as McGlynn attempted to freshen his team up for a final push to equalise. It almost worked too when a Raith corner was cleared by Dundee only as far as Williamson who looped the ball back over the Dees defence to Weir who smashed the ball at goal, but Douglas spread himself to make a brilliant save.

Campbell, playing as a striker towards the end, had a headed chance in the dying seconds, but was unable to find a way past the dominate Douglas.

This was Dundee's fifth win in a row and their sixteenth league fixture unbeaten which is a phenomenal achievement, but questions will be asked if they can maintain this sort of form to the end of the season with such a small squad of players.

Meanwhile Raith will need to regroup as they have conceded 10 league goals already this calender year compared to the measly 8 they conceded from August till the end of December last year. The team struggled to pass the ball to a blue shirt tonight, but all is not lost as they still sit top of the First Division, three points clear of Dunfermline Athletic, who drew 0-0 away to Ross County.

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