United had to settle for a solitary point from this match, despite an opening half hour of insatiable attacking football that put them two goals ahead. Willo Flood opened the scoring early on with a long range drive. He then won a penalty five minutes later that Cammy Smith converted to double United’s lead. A stunning strike from Jordan Thompson reduced the deficit for Raith prior to half-time before an equally impressive effort from Kevin McHattie levelled the game in the second half.
By Graeme Webster
For this Ladbrokes Championship game against pre-match table topper’s Raith Rovers, United stuck with the same side that won convincingly against Ayr United the previous Saturday. The only changes came on the bench with Durnan and Coote dropping out the squad, being replaced by Matty Smith and Cammy Ballantyne. Raith made one change from their Fife Derby victory over Dunfermline, with ‘keeper Lennox coming in for Brennan.
United set up in the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, with Simon Murray leading the attack and Cammy Smith, Scott Fraser and Nick van der Velden in support. Sean Dillon captained the side.
The Tangerines got off to a flying start, with Scott Fraser earning the home side a corner after just 20 seconds. Raith, who were shooting towards their large and vociferous away support, reacted well and quickly regained a foot hold in the game. With seven minutes played, United fans claimed for a penalty after Cammy Smith looked to be pushed to the ground following a neat one-two with Murray. To Smith’s surprise, Craig Thomson flashed a yellow card at the forward for diving.
The next chance for United fell to Murray when the striker cut in from the left to force Conor Brennan into a good save. The rebound fell to Flood, but the midfielder could only fire the follow up against a Rovers defender. In the early stages of the first half the chances were coming thick and fast for United. Fraser headed just over and Smith struck the side netting after a surging run into the box. Then on 16 minutes United made the breakthrough. A free-kick from Fraser from just in front of the home dug-out was headed clear by Benedictus and Willo Flood was on hand to drill the ball low past Brennan from 20 yards.
United doubled their lead from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute. Flood was fouled at the edge of the box after a clumsy challenge and Cammy Smith stepped up to rifle the ball beyond Brennan. In the aftermath, Raith coach Darren Jackson was sent to the stand for an over zealous protest. It was almost three on the half hour mark when Murray robbed Benedictus at the edge of the Raith penalty area but as he forced his way towards goal, the assistant raised his flag for off-side. Raith had to wait 35 minutes for their first shot and it was McHattie who drove an effort just wide after it deflected off Dillon on its way to goal. This lifted the Kirkcaldy side and soon after they reduced the deficit with a stunning strike by Jordan Thompson. The midfielder latched onto a Cammy Bell punch out and fired first time, high into the net from the edge of the box.
HT: United 2 – 1 Raith Rovers
The visitors made a bright start to the second half and Cammy Bell was forced into two good saves within minutes of the restart. Lewis Vaughan then sent a free-kick just inches over from the corner of the penalty area before a header from M’voto flew wide as Raith took control of the second period.
Midway through the second half, McKinnon introduced Obadeyi in a bid to regain the upper hand in the match. With Murray off, Obadeyi took position in the central striker role. However, before the forward could get a kick of the ball Raith got themselves back on level terms. Once again it was a wonder strike, this time it was full-back Kevin McHattie who lashed home to stun the United support. The Tangerines stepped up a gear following the equaliser and Cammy Smith played in van der Velden but his angled effort was blocked by the feet of ‘keeper Brennan.
Former United man Rudi Skacel, was next to try his luck with a looping heading that evaded Bell but dropped just over the bar. Raith were dominant for much of the second half and United were unable to rekindle the attacking sparkle they had in the first. In the end the home side had to settle for a point in a game that looked to offer so much more in the early stages.
FT: United 2 – 2 Raith Rovers
Man of the Match: Willo Flood dictated the pace of the match with a live wire first half performance. He scored a fantastic goal and won the penalty for United’s second. A great all round performance from the midfielder.
United: Bell, Dillon, Donaldson, Toshney, Murdoch, Murray (Obadeyi 67′), Fraser (Spittal 75′), Smith, Flood, van der Velden, Robson.
Unused Subs: Zwick, M.Smith, Telfer, B.Smith, Ballantyne.
Raith Rovers: Brennan, Thomson, Benedictus, M’voto, McHattie, Callachan, Matthews, Thompson (Stewart 68′), Barr, Vaughan (Skacel 68′), McManus (Davidson 78′).
Unused Subs: Cuthbert, Osei Opoku-Berchie, Roberts, Court.