Hamilton Academical v Raith Rovers
SPFL Trust Trophy Quarter Final
Friday 17h November 2023
7.45pm at New Douglas Park
Hamilton 1 Raith 4
Last Friday we took on Raith Rovers in what would be a repeat of our cup final game against them last year, with both teams looking to make the semi-finals again.
John Rankin made one change from the win last weekend against Stirling, with Stephen Hendrie starting for Longridge who was missing out through suspension.
Both teams started the first half well and matched each other in terms of intensity, but it was to be Raith who would lead at half time.
Despite our intensity, Raith struck first in the 7th minute after a poor defensive header from us allowed Connolly to head the ball into the path of Stanton who slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. 0-1
We didn’t let this set back stop us from attacking the Raith goal and 10 minutes later a good passage of play between Henderson and O’Hara saw O’Hara drag his shot just wide of the goal.
In the 30th minute, we had another chance to draw level after Henderson found space outside the Raith box and forced an easy low save from Dabrowski to deny him an equaliser.
We went into half time trailing by only one goal and came out of the traps flying in the second half searching for our equaliser. However, in the end we ultimately suffered a defeat and saw ourselves exit from the cup.
Just eight minutes into the second half, Kilday was dismissed by the referee for a high challenge on Gullan; we still had to battle for an equaliser, now with just 10 men.
In the 58th minute, Raith doubled their lead when a bit of a scramble in our box saw the ball cleared off the line not once, but twice. Despite these clearances, Jack Hamilton was on hand to roll the ball past Fulton and into the bottom corner. 0-2
Raith didn’t take long to find a third goal. There was some confusion around the goal, however. The referee appeared to blow his whistle to allow us to make substitutions. Despite this, Raith’s Callum Hannah threw the ball into Jack Hamilton, who turned and from 20 yards out curled the ball spectacularly over Fulton and into the top right corner. 0-3
In the 72nd minute, we pulled one back through substitute Zanatta, who found space at the edge of the Raith box and perfectly curled his left footed shot into the top corner scoring against his old club to give us a sliver of hope. 1-3.
The final goal of the game came in the 90th minute for Raith, when Easton’s run to the edge of the box went unchallenged allowing him to squeeze his shot into the bottom corner. 1-4
Post-match, a disappointed Rankin stated: “I thought we started the second half really well, I thought we started on the front foot, and I thought this is going to be an opportunity for us to go and make a real game of this.”
“I felt at three nil that we saw players running, players prepared to take the ball, and we saw players with personality on the pitch and we still saw a fighting spirit.”
Rankin also reflected: “I am really proud of my team tonight, I look at it and I think at ten men they never downed tools, they continued to work and graft and I think they had real personality on the pitch, so I’m proud of the players tonight.”
This sees us exit from the Challenge Cup, but we must turn our focus to next weekend when we take on Kelty Hearts in the Scottish Cup third round.
Accies: Accies: Fulton (GK), Kilday, Barjonas (Hewitt 62), Henderson (Zanatta 62), Martin, O’Hara (Mumbongo 62), Macdonald, McGowan, Tait (O’Brien), Tumilty, Hendrie (McGinn 90).
Unused Subs: J Smith (GK) ,L Smith, C Murray, McGlynn.
Raith: Dabrowski (GK), Dick, Millen, Connolly, Gullan (Corr 85), Stanton (Mullin 85), Hamilton (Smith 77), Brown, Byrne, Easton, Masson (Hannah 45).
Unused Subs: Thomson (GK), Vaughan.
Referee- Iain Snedden/ AR1- Gordon Crawford/ AR2- Steven Traynor
971 (416 away)