Raith Rovers 4
Ryan Conroy 33, Calum Elliot 63, 103, Derek Young og 118
Forfar Athletic 2
Danny Denholm 25, 73
Despite being the better side, two extra time goals saw Forfar Athletic exit the first round of the League Cup as they lost 4-2 to Championship side Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park on Saturday.
After last week’s defeat to East Fife, Dick Campbell made three changes, the suspended Stuart Malcolm along with Mark Baxter and Omar Kader being replaced by Chris Templeman, Darren Dods and Aaron James.
Forfar went close in the first minute, Gavin Swankie’s lofted ball was chased by Templeman who got his foot to it but keeper Kevin Cuthbert blocked the effort and the ball was cleared.
At the other end Ryan Conroy’s free kick found Christian Nade, whose shot was pushed away by Rab Douglas but only as far as Calum Elliot but he could only knock the ball across the goal and out when it looked a certain goal when it came to him.
Nade had another shot blocked in the 8th minute before Dale Hilson sent a free kick from 25 yards out flying over the bar.
Hilson went close again after 11 minutes, collecting Andrew Steeves’ cross after Rory McKeown missed it but Dale’s shot was punched wide by Cuthbert.
The Loons took a deserved lead 25 minutes into the tie, great work from Gavin Swankie allowed him to thread a ball through a static Raith defence for Danny Denholm to slot home.
Just after the half hour mark Nade had yet another shot, this time firing wide before the Kirkcaldy outfit equalised in the 33rd minute. Nade sent a ball across the box that Conroy swept home from close range.
Conroy and Elliot both had chances to put Raith ahead before the break with Swankie firing over for Forfar after a great move.
A defensive blunder by Rovers almost allowed Swankie to score just two minutes into the second half, a clearance by Dods was missed completely by Ross Perry and another defender, letting Swankie clean through but as he advanced on goal, Perry did well to race back and deny him a shot.
Nade headed over in the 50th minute before forcing Douglas into another save four minutes later.
In the 63rd minute the home side were awarded a penalty after Dods’s boot hit Nade in the face as a ball came into the box. Calum Elliot stepped up and sent Douglas the wrong way to give them the lead for the first time in the tie.
With twenty minutes to go Dick Campbell made all three changes at once, Dale, Malin and Kader coming on for Templeman, Husband and Steeves as the Loons went to three at the back.
The move paid off within three minutes, Malin’s corner was touched back out to him and when he swung in another cross Danny Denholm beat Liam Fox to nod home via the back post for his second of the game.
Swankie and Denholm went close to scoring a winner in the last fifteen and the Loons should have had a penalty when Omar Kader was bundled over in the box by Nade, referee Brian Colvin waving play on despite the obvious foul.
The ninety minutes of normal time ended in a draw so for the second year in a row, Forfar went to extra time in the first round of the League Cup.
Raith had the first chance of extra time, Jason Thomson cutting the ball back for sub Grant Anderson but his effort was deflected wide and the corner came to nothing.
Swankie blasted straight at the keeper before Forfar fell behind for the second time in the 103rd minute. Nade and Martin Scott exchanged passes, setting up Elliot to for a very good goal from outside the box, Douglas having no chance with the shot.
Danny Denholm had a great chance to potentially take the game to penalties and grab his hat-trick with ten minutes left, another fantastic passing move ending in Gavin Malin’s through ball being collected by him but he fired across goal when he had more time to compose himself before getting a shot away.
Michael Dunlop headed wide from Denholm’s corner before Raith made sure of the result in the 118th minute, Anderson’s cross unfortunately deflected past Douglas by Derek Young who had tried to block the cross.
The side can be happy with the performance, were the better side with fantastic passing which should give them hope for the coming league season, which kicks off with a short trip to Stranraer, where they ended their league campaign last season.
Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: Danny Denholm
Raith Rovers: Kevin Cuthbert, Jason Thomson, Ross Perry, Paul Watson, Liam Fox (Lewis Vaughan 105), Mark Stewart (Grant Anderson 70), Calum Elliot, Martin Scott, Ryan Conroy, Rory McKeown, Christian Nade (Ross Callachan 119).
Subs not used: Kevin Moon, Laurie Ellis, Ross Matthews, Ross Laidlaw (gk)
Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas 6, Michael Dunlop 6, Andrew Steeves 6(Omar Kader 70, 5), Derek Young 7, Darren Dods 6, Aaron James 7, Dale Hilson 7, Stephen Husband 6 (Gavin Malin 70, 6), Chris Templeman 6 (James Dale 70, 5), Gavin Swankie 7, Danny Denholm 8.
Subs not used: Craig Smith, Liam Keiller, Paul McLellan, Ross Salmon (gk)