William Hill Scottish Cup: Raith Rovers 3 Dunfermline 0: 19/01/19

The first Scottish Cup tie between these rivals for over 33 years attracted a crowd of over 6000, filling parts of Starks Park that many had forgotten about. The home manager, John McGlynn said in his programme notes that he hoped that all connected with Dunfermline would enjoy a traditional San Starko welcome!

With the Rovers in a division below the Pars this was going to be a derby to savour, the Kirkcaldy side have been on good form but the Pars could maybe take confidence from the stadium announcer Gordon Adamson’s warning to the home crowd in the South Stand that shooting practice was about to start!

Stevie Crawford was forced to make one change from the eleven that started against Dundee United, Aidan Keena has been recalled to Hearts so Faissal El Bakhtaoui was brought in. Raith Rovers also made one change former Par Liam Buchanan dropped to the bench making room for Nathan Flanagan.

Raith kicked off attacking the goal in front of the stand packed by the travelling support. It was the Pars keeper Lee Robinson who was the first to be deployed in earnest holding a dangerous low cross from the right by Lewis Vaughan just inside the two minutes.

It was the seventh minute before the Rovers fans were fearing the worst. A Rovers mistake let El Bakhtaoui feed the ball forward to James Vincent but as he broke into the penalty box he was closed out by the home defence. Two minutes later Kallum Higginbotham sent the first corner of the game into the Rovers six yard box but the defence cleared.

Higginbotham blasted an eleventh minute effort high and wide after he had been nicely set u0 through Tom Beadling’s precision pass to Jackson Longridge and then on to Higgy. Danny Devine drove play forward two minutes later but El Bakhtaoui fired the opportunity over Robbie Thomson’s crossbar.

And the other end Vaughan took a shot from 25 yards out but was wide right. On 21 minutes James Craigen did well to head away a threatening cross by former Par Dan Armstrong. Next minute Higgy flattened his former team mate out on the left touchline and although the Rovers were given a free kick they were claiming for further punishment for the offender that Bobby Madden did not give.

The match got feistier with uncompromising tackles by Euan Murray on Higginbotham, Kyle Benedictus on El Bakhtaoui and Devine on Vaughan with only the Pars man seeing yellow. An impressive run from El Bakhtaoui up the right wing and along the bye line yielded an inviting ball into the Rovers six yard box but somehow Vincent just couldn’t get contact and the great chance was lost. Vaughan reminded us of his threat with a 27th minute effort that he thrashed low but outside the right upright.

There was a big opportunity for the visitors after a foul on Joe Thomson earned them a free kick 30 yards out in a central position. Beadling and Hippolyte stood over the 33rd minute setpiece before the latter hit the ball wide of the four man wall but wide of the goal as well.

There were two chances four minutes later when El Bakhtaoui from 15 yards was blocked by Benedictus and then Hippolyte from 10 yards got a good crack at goal but Rovers keeper Robbie Thomson made a remarkable stop to deny the Pars.

In 44 minutes El Bakhtaoui tried an attempt from 25 yards out that Benedictus headed away. It had been a first half in which Dunfermline had looked the much more likely to score, Robinson had been the far less worked keeper and the League One side had to thank their keeper for it remaining goalless at the interval.

Half time: Raith Rovers 0 Dunfermline 0

The second half started strongly for Dunfermline. Iain Davidson had to leap high to head away a Craigen cross then next a good Craigen run opened up a chance for El Bakhtaoui to shoot from the left side of the box but straight at Thomson. One minute later he broke on the counter from a Rovers corner but kept his shot so well away from the keeper this time he was well wide right.

Longridge forced a 52nd minute corner but the home defence held out. Murray had to head away another dangerous ball into the box before the Cup tie changed as a result of a red card shown to captain Lee Ashcroft, deemed to be a last man foul 20 yards out on Chris Duggan. Fortunately Armstrong drove the setpiece into the defensive wall. Mark Durnan was the 57th minute sub to bolster the defence and Myles Hippolyte was the unlucky player who had to make way for him.

In 62 minutes Dunfermline were awarded two corners, firstly a good effort from Thomson was deflected wide left and then Beadling’s attempt at the far post from the corner was deflected behind for another. Durnan rose to get his head to it but sent his attempt wide right.

The ten men had looked more determined at this stage and Craigen caused Grant Gillespie to hard clear but Rovers began to get their passes together. Tony Dingwall came on for his home debut replacing Nathan Flanagan and then when Durnan tussled with Duggan in the box, referee Madden pointed to the penalty spot.

Lee Robinson was shown a yellow card for cleaning his heels on the goalpost before VAUGHAN stepped up and from the 70th minute spot kick found the left side of the net. 1-0

Robbie Muirhead was introduced for Faissal El Bakhtaoui as there was a two minute delay to extinguish blue and white smoke flares that damaged the artificial playing surface.

Raith Rovers struck again in 79th minute after a strong run up the right by Duggan to latch on to a through ball from Murray. His cross was met with a stylist diving header from Lewis VAUGHAN 2-0.

To make matters worse a defensive mistake two minutes later let VAUGHAN in to complete his first ever hat trick at professional level as he crashed the ball home from the edge of the box for 3-0.

For the 2794 travelling Pars fans the cup knock out was a bitter blow. Raith has to dig in and they defended well for the majority of the game. They weathered a sticky patch at the beginning of the second half while Dunfermline failed to create the real killer blow. The penalty conversion settled the home side and they capitalised on the man advantage after that to rub salt deeply into the Pars wounds.
RAITH ROVERS: Robbie Thomson: Euan Murray, Iain Davidson, Kyle Benedictus, Calum Crane: Dan Armstrong (Liam Buchanan 88), Grant Gillespie, Nat Wedderburn, Nathan Flanagan, Lewis Vaughan: Chris Duggan.
SUBS NOT USED: Tony Dingwall, Jamie Watson, David McKay, Ross Matthews, Jack Smith, Dean Lyness (GK).
SCORERS: Vaughan (70 pen. 79, 81)
YELLOW CARD: Duggan (82)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: James Craigen, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: Tom Beadling: Myles Hippolyte (Mark Durnan 57), Joe Thomson, James Vincent, Kallum Higginbotham (Matthew Todd 90): Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Robbie Muirhead 71).
SUBS NOT USED: Aidan Connolly, Callum Smith, Paul Allan, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Devine (26), Robinson (70).
RED CARD: Ashcroft (55)

REFEREE: Bobby Madden
WEATHER: Cloudy 4C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Morton Saturday 26th January 2019, kick off 3.00pm

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