Dunfermline draw blank against Premiership play-off rivals Raith Rovers

Celtic v Dunfermline – Betfred Cup – Second Round – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Dunfermline and Raith Rovers fought out a goalless draw in the first leg of their Scottish Premiership play-off tie at East End Park.

The profligate Pars had a series of attempts on goal in the quarter-final encounter but when they did hit the target Kirkcaldy keeper Jamie MacDonald was equal to the task.

John McGlynn’s men came back into the tie in a more even second half but neither side could make the breakthrough.

The teams will meet up again on Saturday at Stark’s Park for the right to play Championship runners-up Dundee over two legs in the semi-final, with the 11th-placed Premiership side waiting for the winners of that tie.

In a frenetic start, in which Rovers looked lively, veteran Pars midfielder Steven Whittaker had a couple of efforts on goal from distance.

The first, from the edge of the opposition penalty area in the eighth minute, flew wide and a dipping shot moments later just cleared the bar.

In the 16th minute, following another swift Dunfermline attack, Rovers keeper MacDonald stretched to tip a Kevin O’Hara drive from 14 yards over the bar for a corner which the Kirkcaldy men survived.

The home side maintained their threat.

Dunfermline striker Craig Wighton’s drive from a Joshua Edwards cutback missed the target, as did Declan McManus’s shot from 12 yards after the Raith defence played themselves into trouble.

MacDonald then saved a decent drive from midfielder Ewan Henderson.

At the other end, a cross from Raith midfielder Kai Kennedy, who had an earlier shot from inside the box blocked, just passed the far post.

In keeping with the home side’s first-half accuracy, Wighton lofted another shot over the bar just before the break.

MacDonald was alive to a low drive from Dom Thomas eight minutes into the second half as Dunfermline yet again carved open an opportunity following a swift break after Raith had huffed and puffed at the other end.

Henderson’s dipping shot from 25 yards just after the hour mark dropped on top of the net and brought further frustration to those in black and white.

It also brought more hope to their opponents and in the 66th minute Lewis Vaughan drew a save from Pars keeper Owain Fon Williams with a powerful drive from 14 yards but the resultant corner came to nothing.

Rovers fancied their chances of snatching a goal as the game entered its later stages but it was O’Hara who missed the target with a header in the 90th minute.

Ultimately neither defence was breached but one way or another the two sides will be separated in Kirkcaldy at the weekend.

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