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Tuesday November 13, 2012

William Hill Scottish Cup round 3 replay

Raith Rovers




Spence 5
Walker 20 pen
Anderson 55
Hill 100

Airdrie United

J Watt 3
Di Giacomo 45 pen
Buchanan 86


It was extra-time heartache for Airdrie as they lost an action packed Scottish Cup replay at rain-soaked Stark's Park.

Raith Rovers advance to the fourth round with Dougie Hill's deflected header sealing the victory.

With two goals in the opening five minutes, two contentious penalties and a slew of yellow cards, no-one in the 935 strong crowd could have any complaints about the entertainment on offer, and neither team can be faulted for their heroic efforts in 120 minutes of relentless end-to-end football.

It was yet another defensive reshuffle for Airdrie in a season already blighted by injuries, Chris O'Neil, Gavin Griffin and Cammy MacDonald dropping out of the back four that faced Livingston on Friday. Marc Warren, Gregor Buchanan and David Lilley were the replacements. Elsewhere, Ryan Donnelly came in for John Boyle upfront.

The Diamonds hit the ground running, Josh Watt picking up a cross-field pass in acres of space, and advancing at pace before curling a lovely left-foot shot into the top corner of the Raith goal.

The lead was short lived, however, a Rovers attack down the right catching Airdrie's defence flat-footed, and Greig Spence had the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-1.

With parity restored, the game settled down until the 20th minute, when Nathan Blockley was adjudged to have pushed Simon Mensing in the box. The Diamonds fans behind the goal were enraged at the penalty award, which Allan Walker tucked into the bottom right corner of Kenny Arthur's goal.

Thirteen minutes later the goalkeeper left the field with a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Andy Duncan.

If the Airdrie fans felt aggrieved with a soft penalty award, the Kirkcaldy faithful had similar complaints on the stroke of half time, when referee Stephen Finnie pointed to the spot after a tug in the Raith box. Paul Di Giacomo kept his cool to drill home the resultant penalty and level the half-time score at two apiece.

Within ten minutes of the restart, Raith were back in front. An excellent diving save by Andy Duncan gave the Fifers a corner, which was cleared only as far as Grant Anderson, who fired home from the corner of the area.

Airdrie refused to lie down however, and with only four minutes remaining substitute Willie McLaren whipped a free kick to the back post, where Gregor Buchanan rose highest to bullet home a header and send the travelling Airdrie support into raptures - and the tie into extra time.

The first period saw Rovers signal their intent early, a Walker shot going narrowly over before a scramble in the Airdrie box led to a goal line clearance.

On 100 minutes, the Kirkcaldy men scored what was to be the winning goal, a cross from the right finding Hill, who's powerful header was cruelly deflected past Duncan.

Airdrie, though visibly tiring, still refused to give up, and Josh Watt had a snap shot well saved before Kieron Stallard's turning volley went agonisingly close in stoppage time.

In a match which saw both teams give their all but which never looked bad tempered, Airdrie picked up eight yellow cards to Raith's two. The Fifers now face Deveronvale in the fourth round, while the Diamonds can concentrate solely on their league campaign.

Stuart Mathie at Stark's Park.

Photographs © Robert Dalzell. Click to view full size.

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