Ladbrokes League 1
Tuesday 2nd January 2018
East Fife 2 (Wilkie 20’, Linton 56’)
Raith Rovers 3 (Robertson 8’, Linton O.G. 25’, Zanatta 78’))
East Fife XI: Goodfellow, Dunsmore, Kane, Page, Linton, Docherty (Mutch 85’), Lamont (Flanagan 87’), Wilkie, G Hurst (Smith 45’), Millar, Duggan
Subs: Slattery, Reilly, M Hurst
Booked: Kane, Linton
Raith Rovers XI: Smith, Thomson, Murray, Davidson, McKay, Roberston, Vaughan, Matthews, Zanatta, Spence, Buchanan (Court 72’)
Subs: Watson, Bell, Hendry, Osei, Lennox
Booked: Vaughan, Zanatta
Referee: Gavin Ross
East Fife kicked off 2018 by welcoming local rivals Raith Rovers to Bayview but it was the visitors who claimed all three points after a highly competitive encounter. Manager Darren Young made two changes to the side that drew with Arbroath last time out with Aaron Dunsmore and Kyle Wilkie returning to the side replacing Kevin Smith and Jordan Piggott.
The visitors had overrun East Fife during their previous encounter at Bayview earlier in the season but there was to be no such repeat this time around and indeed it was the home side that threatened first when Dunsmore’s cross from the right was met by Greg Hurst at the back post but the ball wouldn’t sit up for him and the Raith defence were able to clear inside the first minute. An East Fife corner on the far side was scrambled clear by the visitor’s defence on 6 minutes before they opened the scoring in the 8th minute when David McKay picked out Greig Spence with a cross-field pass that was headed down into the path of Scott Robertson. Robertson’s shot was blocked by Ryan Goodfellow in the East Fife goal but the ball spun up and into the back of the net.
Unlike the previous encounter, the home side didn’t crumble and were close to levelling with quarter of an hour played when Chris Duggan’s cross looked as though it had landed perfectly for Hurst by Raith ‘keeper Graeme Smith was out quickly to gather. East Fife’s perseverance paid off on 21 minutes when they grabbed a deserved equaliser. Mark Lamont crossed from the right but when Duggan failed to connect at the back post the Raith defence switched off allowing Scott Linton to float the ball back into the danger area and Kyle Wilkie sent a header, unmarked, past Smith for his 4th of the season.
East Fife weren’t level for long, however, as they failed to deal with a corner from Lewis Vaughan and the ball deflected into the net. Former Fifer Liam Buchanan claimed the goal but replays show the striker made no contact and the ball deflected off an east Fife defender. The home side responded well again and had a couple of opportunities to draw level again when first Chris Kane headed wide from Linton’s corner before Lamont’s cut back along the 6-yard box was blocked on the line by a combination of ‘keeper and defence.
The visitors had the first chance of the second half when Dario Zanatta cut in from the left but his right-footed drive was well held by Goodfellow. East Fife were level once again on 55 minutes when Duggan was brought down, rather clumsily, on the edge of the area by Euan Murray. Up stepped Scott Linton to curl an unstoppable free kick over the wall and into the top corner for his second of the season – an even better strike than the one he scored against Albion Rovers. Robertson was perhaps a tad fortunate to remain of the park when he pulled back Lamont when he looked like he was about to go clean through on 62 minutes – although rather bizarrely it was Vaughan who picked up the booking!
Goodfellow pulled off a fantastic point-blank save to deny Buchanan on 65 minutes at one end before Raith defender Iain Davidson breathed a sigh of relief as his clearance header just cleared his own cross bar at the other. The home side were beginning to grab control of the game and Smith had to be alter to keep out a 20-yard strike from Mark Docherty on 67 minutes before substitute Kevin Smith tried a long-range effort which deflected into the arms of ‘keeper Smith.
Lapses in concentration have been East Fife’s downfall of late and they were to be punished again with 12 minutes left to play when Vaughan robbed Linton on the far-side touchline and raced in on goal. His cut back fell to Zanatta who found the back of the net, albeit with the aid of two deflections. East Fife were a post-width away from drawing level for a third time with 2 minutes left on the clock when Nathan Flanagan’s left-footed shot came back off the upright, hit Graeme Smith and rolling along the goal line before the ball was eventually cleared.
A great effort from East Fife and worth a share of the points but lapses in concentration again proving costly.