Saturday, 26 February 2011

Raith Edge Out Albion

Please click here or read below for my report on this afternoon's fixture between Raith Rovers and Stirling Albion, with the home side narrowly winning by two goals to one. It was published on the official Raith Rovers website.


Stirling Albion looked to have grabbed themselves an unlikely point at top-of-the-table Raith Rovers this afternoon after Gordon Smith’s 53rd minute equaliser cancelled out Grant Murray’s opening goal.

However, John Baird squeezed the ball over the line just seven minutes from time to keep the Kirkcaldy side three points clear of nearest title challengers Dunfermline Athletic.

It was a far from fluent performance from Raith despite manager John McGlynn ringing the changes from the midweek loss to Dundee. For numerous reasons, Scott McBride, Iain Davidson and Willie Dyer all dropped out to be replaced by Craig Wilson, Iain Williamson and Dougie Hill, who had returned from his loan spell at Brechin City. 
The teams come out in front of the South Stand at Starks Park
The match began at a frantic pace with Raith forcing a succession of corners in the opening few minutes. The first corner resulted from Stirling keeper’ Scott Christie tipping an Allan Walker shot wide of the post. Walker stepped up at the corner flag and curled the ball into the box but Laurie Ellis was unable to get enough purchase on the ball and the danger was cleared behind for another corner. Mark Campbell was the next to go close as his header zipped past the Stirling post and thirty seconds later, the towering centre-half was to have a goal-bound shot blocked by a brave Albion defender.

After managing to survive the early onslaught, Stirling created their first chance on the 6th minute when former Ayr United captain, Chris Aitkin, received the ball on the edge of the box, striking with real power, but Andy McNeil clung onto the ball.

Two minutes later, Tom Brighton looped a header narrowly wide of McNeil’s left post before Walker and Baird hit efforts wide at the other end of the pitch.

The pace of the game began to decrease although mid-way through the half the visitors had a great chance to take the lead. Aitkin was causing more problems in the middle of the park as he drove to the Rovers box only to be thwarted at the last second by a scrambling Raith defender. The ball landed at the feet of Smith but the youngster sent the ball well wide of the target.

However, the deadlock would be broken ten minutes from the break when Raith finally capitalised from a corner as captain Murray found the net from close range.

Stirling replied almost immediately when a long range Brian Allison shot was flicked on by Jonathon Brown, leaving McNeil thankful the ball landed on top of his goal.

In truth, Raith should have been two goals to the good at half time when Stephen Simmons played a delightful through ball for Baird, but the speedy striker seemed to take one too many touches and Christie managed to throw a desperate foot in the way of his shot, to divert the ball wide for a corner.

The teams line up at Starks Park
Immediately after the break, Raith had another great opportunity when Baird whipped a ball into the box but it fell in the gap between the onrushing Gregory Tade and Walker and was successfully cleared by the away side.

On the 51st minute Albion had a chance to equalise as Smith capitalised on Simmons slipping in possession. Smith ran the whole Rovers half, but like Baird in the first period, took too many touches and ended up striking weakly into McNeil’s arms.

However, it was just two minutes later that Jocky Scott’s men found their equaliser. Aitkin was pulling the strings in midfield once more and played a neat pass to Smith who this time made no mistake and slotted the ball past McNeil.

The Starks Park faithful started to become a bit edgy and Stirling seemed quite comfortable to sit deep and hit Raith on the break, although their plan was nearly undone on the 63rd minute when Hill narrowly headed the ball over the bar after another Walker corner.

Stirling’s best chances to score another goal came in two successive minutes. The first chance fell to Brighton after receiving a through ball from Aitkin, only to be denied by a last ditch Campbell tackle. Stirling broke up the pitch again but after cutting inside Smith shot over the bar.

The bottom side would soon regret missing their opportunities when Raith scored the winning goal on the 83rd minute. A Walker freekick was aimed at the far post where Campbell headed the ball back across goal and Baird stuck a foot out, sending the ball inches over the line, although Christie would claim otherwise.

Raith began to slow play down and the final opportunity fell to former Rover Ryan Borris on the 90th minute but his shot was well wide of the post. Stirling would then claim for a handball in the Rovers box right at the death, however referee Steve Conroy was not interested and play continued.

It was not a pretty performance from the boys in blue but nevertheless, a vital three points if Raith are to continue challenging at the top of the table.

To Stirling’s credit, they worked Rovers hard and appeared to be a well-organised outfit, looking dangerous on the break. After taking into consideration Stirling and Cowdenbeath’s recent results and performances it would not be surprising to see the Binos overtake the Blue Brazil at the bottom of the league in the near future.  
Stirling Albion fans in the McDermid Stand at Starks Park


  1. I forget how far away the fans are from that side of the pitch!

  2. I know, and the atmosphere is sadly lacking in the stand too. Still, it's our own 'unique' stand, there's not many like it.