Ladbrokes League 1
Saturday 4th November 2017
Raith Rovers 1 (Vaughan 29’))
East Fife 0
Raith Rovers XI: Smith, Thomson, McHattie, Herron, Murray, Spence (Zanatta 64’), Robertson, Buchanan, Vaughan, Barr, Matthews
Subs: Brian, Watson, Berry, Osei, Court, McKay
East Fife XI: M Hurst, Docherty, Dunsmore, Piggott, Page, Willis (Mutch 82’), Slattery, Millar, Lamont (Flanagan 83’), Duggan, Reilly (Smith 71’)
Subs: Goodfellow, Wilson
Referee: Stephen Finnie
East Fife travelled to Stark’s Park for the second Fife derby of the season against League leaders Raith Rovers but left empty-handed when their effort and performance deserved at least a point. Manager Darren Young made two changes to the side that beat Arbroath last time out with Ben Reilly and Kieran Millar replacing Greg Hurst, who picked up a training ground injury on Friday, and Kyle Wilkie, who lost his appeal against the red card shown to him last week.
East Fife had a strong shout for a penalty inside the opening two minutes when Chris Duggan was impeded by Ross Matthews inside the area but referee Stephen Finnie was uninterested and waved away the claim. Even early on in the match the visitors had shown their full-time hosts this this game wasn’t going to be as easy for them as their last encounter.
Lewis Vaughan sent a free kick from 20-yards over the bar on 13 minutes before the same player failed to clear the wall with another set-piece 5 minutes later, this time from 25-yards. In between those chanced Paul Willis picked out Mark Docherty unmarked 25-yards from goal but his volley flew narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
East Fife were beginning to grow into the game and went close again on 23 minutes when Mark Lamont curled a left-footed narrowly over the bar on 23 minutes. The visitors then had a second penalty shout turned down when Kevin McHattie appeared to handle the ball inside the area but, in truth, it looked more ball-to-hand and definitely not deliberate.
The visitors were dealt a blow, however, on 29 minutes when they failed to clear their line and the ball broke nicely for Vaughan to prod the ball past Mark Hurst. If the home fans were expecting the flood-gates to opening like they did at Bayview they were in for a shock as East Fife were agonisingly close to equalising less than a minute later. Good play by Chris Duggan saw him hit the by-line and fire the ball in across the 6-yard box and only a touch from Raith ‘keeper Graeme Smith prevented Lamont from levelling the game. The chance wasn’t gone, however, the ball coming back into the danger area but Willis, at full-stretch, couldn’t get enough on the ball allowing McHattie to clear off the line.
A Raith corner on 38 minutes was cleared as far as Bobby Barr on the edge of the box but the former Fifer blasted the ball way over the bar. At the other end, a nice turn from Lamont in the middle of the park plated in Willis but he dragged his left-footed shot wide of the right-hand post. A very competitive opening 45 minutes with both teams largely cancelling each other out, only one mistake the difference between the sides.
East Fife started the brightest after the break; Duggan picking up a loose pass 25-yards from goal and tried to play in Kieran Millar but the Raith defence was able to clear. The visitors were awarded a free kick on the far-side touchline on 53 minutes which Willis manged to get on the end of but was unable to direct his header towards goal.
In a rare adventure forward in the second half, Vaughan squandered a good opportunity for the home side when he blasted high and wide from 10-yards. Duggan saw his long-range effort clear the crossbar on 67 minutes before an East Fife free kick on the far-side touchline level with the 18-yard box was cleared as far as Millar on the edge of the area but his shot was blocked at close range.
East Fife were continuing to press as the game entered the final 10 minutes; Duggan going close with a header when he was picked out by Lamont with a cross from the right. The visitors then had their best chance of the match with minutes left to play when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box, 5-yards from the by-line after substitute Nathan Flanagan was pulled back by McHattie. Kevin Smith was agonisingly close to getting on the end of Docherty’s free kick at the near post which would have almost certainly beaten Raith ‘keeper Smith and given the visitors a share of the points which was the least they deserved but it wasn’t to be.
The game may not have had much in the way of chance but it was a highly competitive contest between two evenly matches sides and on another day East Fife may have come out on top.