Raith humbled as Toon go through to next round

SCOTTISH CUP THIRD ROUND
PETERHEAD V RAITH ROVERS
(DUNCAN BROWN)

PETERHEAD'S WILLIE GIBSON AND JOHN HERRON
SCOTTISH CUP THIRD ROUND PETERHEAD V RAITH ROVERS (DUNCAN BROWN) PETERHEAD'S WILLIE GIBSON AND JOHN HERRON

Peterhead cruised into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup with a surprisingly comfortable victory over an injury-hit Raith Rovers side.

Jim McInally’s men thoroughly deserved their win - and the margin of it - against a Raith side missing five first team regulars at a wind-swept Balmoor Stadium.

To put the result down to Raith’s injury woes, however, would be doing a disservice to the home side who showed true cup tie spirit against a full-time club from the division above.

The biggest factor in the outcome of this tie was appetite, and in tough conditions that required gritted teeth, the home side showed much more of it.

The first half was a test of endurance for players and spectators alike as an icy cold wind blasted across Balmoor.

With the strong gusts favouring Peterhead attacks, Raith struggled to get out of their own half at times, but a determined defensive effort kept the scoreline blank at half-time.

The closest Peterhead came was from a series of corner kicks that had the away defence scrambling to clear its lines, while at the other end, Rovers only managed one or two sporadic attacks without testing the home goalkeeper.

The wind seemed slightly calmer for the second half and the part-timers got stronger as the game wore on against their full-time League One opponents.

That said, Raith should taken the lead just minutes after the restart when they created the chance of the game up to that point.

Veteran striker Liam Buchanan got goal side of the defence, but couldn’t sort his feet quickly enough and his shot from close range was blocked.

The rebound fell kindly to Jonny Court but goalkeeper Greg Fleming made a superb point-blank stop, and when Greig Spence followed up with a third attempt, a defender was on hand to head the ball off the line.

That was a pivotal moment in the tie, and provided the platform for Peterhead to open the scoring on 56 minutes.

The wind had made crosses difficult to read all game and perhaps that was why Raith ‘keeper Graeme Smith elected to stay on his line as Jamie Stevenson floated a ball across the six yard box for substitute Jordon Brown to easily out-jump Jamie Watson at the back post and nod home.

The Blue Toon, sensing fragility in the away side, went straight back on the attack and were rewarded with an second goal almost immediately.

Defender Euan Murray was caught ball-watching as Rory McAllister ghosted in behind him to latch onto a ball over the top and volley past Smith.

With half an hour left there was still some work to do to see out the tie, but Raith never looked like they had a comeback in them as Peterhead snuffed them out and hit on the break.

The third goal arrived with four minutes left as a poorly executed Raith corner kick was easily cleared and led to a counter attack that finished with McAllister running the length of the park and firing high into the net.

In the end, Raith were relieved to hear the full-time whistle in order to avoid the ignominy of conceding a fourth.