Saturday, 9 April 2011

Saturday 9th April 2011 - Raith Rovers 2 v 2 Cowdenbeath

Please click here or read below for my match report from this afternoon's fixture between Raith Rovers and Cowdenbeath. It was published on the official Raith Rovers website.

Rovers Bounce Back Twice To Claim Point 

Raith Rovers failed to knock Dunfermline Athletic off the top of the table this afternoon after a 2-2 draw with relegation strugglers Cowdenbeath, but in truth, the situation could have been worse.
The teams

Greg Stewart opened the scoring for Cowdenbeath on the 55th minute, only for Rovers centre-half, Grant Murray to slam in an equaliser four minutes later.

However, on the 70th minute, a mistake by Raith keeper’ Andrew McNeil led to Stewart nipping in and scoring his second, into an empty net.

With the clock ticking down, it looked like all three points would be heading to Cowdenbeath, until Mark Campbell scrambled the ball over the line for a last minute leveller.

The game was frantic from the word go, with play thundering from end to end and it was remarkable that both teams were unable to score before the break.

Last week’s hero, Allan Walker, was first to strike at the Cowdenbeath goal and Stewart was quick to reply for the visitors, but neither could find a way past the opposing keepers’.

On the twelfth minute, Raith had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring when Gregory Tade won a header and laid the ball off to John Baird who snatched at his shot, which failed to even find the target.

The teams warm up
Four minutes later, Cowdenbeath had just as good a chance when a suspiciously offside-looking Stewart latched onto a long ball and cut inside, only to be thwarted by McNeil. The ball landed at the feet of Scott Linton who had the goal at his mercy, but Craig Wilson made the all-important block and the danger was cleared.

Any neutrals at Starks Park would have been delighted with the excitement on show, which incidentally, was showing no signs of ebbing.

Cowdenbeath’s next great opportunity came to fruition 29 minutes in, when a cross into the Raith box was unable to be cleared by Campbell and former Rover, Stevie Crawford, nipped in, but McNeil pulled off a wonderful save to deny the thirty-seven-year-old.

Three minutes later, Tade and Baird linked again, with the latter outpacing another former Rover, Craig Winter, and he looked set to score, but Cowdenbeath keeper’ Ludovic Roy had other ideas, making a quality stop with his legs.

Tade lobbed a shot wide of the goal, before Roy made a second crucial save in the dying embers of the first half. Former Blue Brazil winger, Scott McBride, crossed a flush ball into the box, Baird connected very well and Roy made just as good an effort to save the shot.

The teams went back into their respective dressing rooms for a half-time refreshment and reflected on what might have been. With better composure and a bit of luck, the scoreline could have been 3-3 at this stage.

Some warm up music from Kirkcaldy High School
Thankfully, the second half started no differently. Both sides were intent on gaining the three points and it was Cowdenbeath who took the initiative on the 55th minute.

Stewart had been causing problems all game and he had Murray twisting and turning once more, deep in the Rovers half. With Murray left in tangles, the striker ran in on goal and beat McNeil on his near post to send the small band of travelling fans ballistic.

Two minutes later, Cowdenbeath had a strong penalty appeal turned down and sixty seconds later, their lead had vanished. McBride curled a corner right onto the head of Murray whose effort was so powerful that Roy’s right hand was unable to stop the ball crossing the line.

The home fans were now roaring and believing their side could go on to clinch the three points, but they almost found themselves pegged back immediately when Stewart got himself on the end of a cross only to be denied by a fantastic fingertip save by McNeil.

Raith fans in the South Stand
On the 66th minute, Baird missed yet another brilliant opportunity when he connected first-time to a Walker cross and he watched in agony as his shot dribbled past the post, with Roy rooted to the spot.

Two minutes later, Murray was beaten again, this time by Crawford who rolled the years back and turned the defender cleverly. However, McNeil looked in the form of his life, rushing out and pulling off a phenomenal block with his chest.

Almost before the Rovers fans had finished sounding their appreciation of their keeper’, McNeil went from hero to zero. A long ball over the top was left by Campbell for McNeil to clear, but he hit the ball straight at Stewart and it looped towards the Raith goal and the striker, with the goal lying empty, made no mistake from six yards out.

Graham Weir replaced winger McBride as Rovers pushed everybody up front. However, the long balls were not working, the chances were drying up and Cowdenbeath looked dangerous on the break.

With Raith fans about to start their exodus out of Starks Park, they were soon halted when a long ball into the box was not dealt with by the Cowdenbeath defence and somehow Campbell managed to scrape the ball over the line from 8 yards.

Cowdenbeath fans in the McDermid Stand
Unbelievably, Raith could have secured all the points three minutes into injury time when a Baird cross was met by Tade but the Frenchman could only head the ball into the ground and just wide of the post.

With both sides contributing to such a fantastic open game it was only fair that both came away with a point, but Rovers, particularly John Baird, may regret their missed chances.

The result means Raith are now one point behind Dunfermline with four games to play. Next week Rovers face Stirling Albion at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium, the same location where Stevie Hislop fired Rovers top of the Second Division two seasons ago. Will history repeat itself?

written by Will Lyon

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