By Blair McNally
Raith Rovers reignited their promotion push as they forced a late turnaround against Alloa with a 3-1 victory in the Championship play-off race.
To Rovers manager John McGlynn’s frustration it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play through Kilmarnock loanee Innes Cameron. A beautiful piece of build-up play found Kevin Cawley on the left wing. He produced a pinpoint cross which was met by a towering header from the Wasps number 11, floated into the top left corner.
Daniel Armstrong then whipped in an incredible cross finding Manny Duku with only a tap in at the back post. He failed to connect properly, putting the ball past the post in the process, perhaps glad to see the offside flag raised.
With 67 minutes on the clock Raith finally found their deserved equaliser. A tremendous free kick from Kai Kennedy was met by a strong header from Kyle Benedictus, forcing a tremendous save from Neil Parry, however, the resulting rebound met the feet of veteran defender Iain Davidson who was left with the simple task of firing home.
Alloa’s hard work in defence was dismantled as Raith took the lead with five minutes left on the clock. A coming together in the middle of the park left Rovers with the break of the ball. Regan Hendry latched onto the resulting through ball and finished emphatically across goal.
Peter Grant brought on veteran striker Liam Buchanan in an attempt to salvage a point but it was to be too little too late as the nail was put in the coffin in the 90th minute as Alloa went all out. Substitute Jamie Gullan found himself clean through on goal, He kept his cool, giving the keeper the eyes whilst slotting away calmly to put the game to bed.
There was to be a late scare as Alloa pushed straight from kick off after the goal. Ross Matthews gave Steven Kirkland no option but to award a penalty after a foul, Alan Trouten stepping up but it wasn’t to be Alloa’s day as Jamie MacDonald guessed correctly, meaning Rovers move into 2nd in the Championship. Here are three things we learned.
Raith remain calm
It may have taken until the 85th minute but Raith’s patience eventually paid dividends as their dominance proved vital with two killer goals in the last five minutes. At no point did frustration set in with Alloa using a low block approach and this could prove vital in games to come with an evident level of confidence.
Alloa in trouble
This performance proved that Alloa can hold out teams with solidity in defence after Raith were held evenly for 85 minutes. Peter Grant has a huge task ahead of him if the Wasps are to stay up with a display of strong character but little possession. A tough task of defying the odds and escaping the drop again awaits.
Promotion hopes very much alive
Rovers leapfrog Fife rivals Dunfermline into 2nd place on goal difference. This sets us up for what McGlynn described as “the biggest game of the season, not only for us but for the fans.” Raith host Dunfermline under the floodlights on Friday night and a win could see them go just six points behind Hearts at the top of the table.
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