Ross County lost their grip on the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup after a dramatic 3-2 home loss to Raith Rovers at the Global Energy Stadium. After coming back from a goal down to win 3-2 last week at Fraserburgh it was a much sterner test against John McGlynn’s League 1 high-flyers.
Davis Keillor Dunn had the best opportunity in the opening exchanges. The midfielder taking the ball from the left hand side towards the penalty spot, leaving defenders in his wake but his shot narrowly went wide of target. Gregor MacDonald would then test the Raith defence. Again a driving run would result in MacDonald dispatching a shot from distance but this time it grazed the bar on its way over. Moments later James Wallace would meet a Keillor Dunn cross with his head but from 8 yards couldn’t keep his header down.
The visitors would take a shock lead just after the half hour mark. A long ball was directed towards Lewis Allan and with Dixon-Hodge coming off his line, Allan managed to round the County keeper and hammer the ball home.
Lewis Allan would then double his and the Raith tally just two minutes later. A cross from the right found Allan at the back post who took a touch to set himself before calmly placing his effort back across the keeper and in to the bottom corner. Dixon-Hodge close to keeping the ball out but his hand wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball out.
With 5 minutes remaining Dixon-Hodge kept the Staggies in the game. Pinball in the County box from a Raith corner found Tait unmarked in the centre of the 6-yard box but the Staggies keeper managed to pull off a great save to keep County alive in the game.
There was a frantic start to the second half with waves of County attacks looking to get back in to the game. It was on 54 minutes the Staggies muscled their way back in to the tie. Great work from James Wallace and Harry Paton on the right saw Paton pick out Davis Keillor Dunn in the centre of the box who placed a cheeky back heel beyond the Raith keeper and in to the back of the net. Keillor Dunn almost drew the game level 4 minutes later when he cut in from the left and looked to have placed his effort in to the top corner but the Raith keeper remarkably got a hand to it.
Just after the hour it could and should have been level. It was Keillor Dunn again the orchestrator as he drove from his own half with the ball towards the Raith box before hammering a piledriver from 30 yards which cannoned off the Raith cross bar, the Staggies in the crowd could feel just how close they were to equalising.
With 10 minutes to go the Staggies eventually drew level. A Davis Keillor Dunn freekick was spilled by the goalkeeper who could only drop it to the feet of Mark Gallagher and from 2 yards the midfielder hammered home. Could a great cup comeback be on for County?
The answer was no. After an unbelievable second half performance by the Staggies the ending was to be nothing short of cruel. With only 2 minutes left in the game, Raith mounted their only real surge in to the Staggies box of the second half as the ball reached the feet of Ross Matthews. From 12 yards Matthews curled a great low effort beyond Dixon-Hodge to send Raith in to the 3rd round of the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup.
There was a standing ovation at the end for a Ross County Reserve Team that gave everything the possibly could, and produced some remarkable football especially in the 2nd half. Ross County wish Raith Rovers all the best in the next round of the cup.