Buchan Ladies 2 – Raith Rovers Ladies 3 (Fowlie and Moodie (2)
Report: Derek Aitken
It was another depleted squad of 11, including 4 who have played as Raith goalkeepers in recent times, that made the long trip north to Maud to face Buchan Ladies, in a game that both sides were desperate to win.
It was no surprise therefore that the early exchanges were nervy with neither side settling.
While Buchan relied on a long ball game, Raith sought to stick with their short passing ethos.
The first real action came after a corner when Tyler Rattray looped a shot from the edge of the box over the keeper and against bar and post. As the ball dropped back into the danger area the referee blew for a goal kick, having assumed the original shot would never stay in. The resultant drop ball on the six yard line was defended well. Moments later Grace Fowlie found herself in the box with her back to goal, but a good turn and shot were blocked.
Just as Buchan were finding their feet and beginning to threaten, the breakthrough came.
Fowlie just missed her flying header from a superb Nicole Carter cross, which flashed across the face of goal, but she was in exactly the right place to ensure the ensuing attempted clearance found the net.
And within a couple of minutes it was two. A great flick pass behind the defence from Michaela McLachlan (recent stand in goalkeeper), allowed Katie Moodie (last season’s first choice Raith goalkeeper, currently returning from an arm injury) to bolt through and, reaching the ball before Buchan’s keeper, expertly flick it round her and then, as defenders sought to cover the goal, calmly pick her spot in the net from the edge of the box.
At this stage 2-0 did not flatter the away side and Stacey Penman, Carter and Sally Patterson created various chances. However, Buchan pushed again and Raith’s two centre backs, Aimee Stewart (one time stand in keeper) and Tiegan Clark, found themselves increasingly tested by long high balls. Stewart’s tackling throughout the game was strong and impressive and Clark,
though playing out of position, was as cool and confident a sweeper as you’ll see anywhere.
Ashleigh Smith, back in goals after a recent injury, played through the pain barrier to pull off some fine saves, with one in particular where she clutched a top corner bound shot that most would have just sought to block. Buchan’s goal when it came was the combination of a nice ball played behind the defence, and the ball holding up in the grass, allowing the forward to beat Smith to it and flick it past her into the net.
While just before half time Penman went close with a dipping free kick, 2-1 seemed just about right on the balance of play.
As expected the second half started with Buchan again pushing hard and Zoe Moreland and Rattray did well, both containing them down the wings, but also creating counter breaks forward.
Having weathered the storm, again Rovers’ persistent passing began to see the game swing in their favour, with one run and volley in particular from Carter dipping just over the bar.
The third goal was another cracker. Moodie picked up the ball just outside the box, turned and found just enough space on her left foot to curl the ball over the keeper and into the far corner.
With four keepers on the park, how ironic that the final goal of the game came from a lovely flighted corner that beat Smith only for Penman to be judged to have handled on the line. The referee simply wasn’t prepared to accept a further keeper on the park, and preventing a goal scoring opportunity saw Penman duly red carded and a penalty awarded. Smith got across well to get a hand on the ball but the shot was strong enough to find the net.
It was then backs to the wall for 25 minutes as Buchan threw everything at Raith, including hitting the bar, some great saves by Smith and various goal line clearances. A couple of strong challenges even saw Raith reduced to 9 for parts of those last few minutes. Despite that McLachlan managed to fizz a free kick just past the far post. The last minute saw Buchan awarded a disputed free kick around the corner of the box. The kick was powerful but just over and Raith had hung on for a merited 3-2 away win. Superb work rate and team performance today from 1 to 11.
For the coaches meantime it ended “Nerves shredded, Finger Nails none”.
The Rovers’ women’s next game is at home to Westdyke Ladies in two weeks.