Life in the Championship is proving to be as demanding as many anticipated. As in last week's game at Easter Road, Dunfermline lost a game where they showed glimpses of ability but no cutting edge. Deficiencies are punished at this level, both defensively and offensively.
The large Pars travelling support saw one change to last week's starting 11, with Lee Ashcroft, now free of suspension, back in defence in place of Callum Fordyce. The first half was a fairly even affair, with the otherwise completely anonymous Rhys McCabe coming closest for Dunfermline with a long range piledriver. The Pars flair players - Joe Cardle and Kallum Higginbotham - were seeing plenty of the ball but unable to penetrate the Rovers defence.
Raith's Declan McManus and Ross Matthews both tested David Hutton in the Pars goal. Rovers keeper Aaron Lennox then did well to tip over a Higginbotham free kick. Ben Richards-Everton then played himself into trouble and a booking when attempting what is a familiar move for him, attempting to step to the left and outpace his opponent before clearing with his left foot. This tactic worked almost every time last season but today he was unable to escape McManus, and fell on top of the ball before making contact with his hand. This incident typified the difference between League 1 and Championship football. Lewis Vaughan took the free kick but it was dealt with by Hutton.
The second half began with both teams still on the attack. Michael Moffat had one effort at goal but shot yards wide. Both Moffat and Gavin Reilly were hardly in the game, physically incapable of making a real impact against the Rovers defence lead by the impressive Jean Yves-Mvoto.
Ryan Williamson was one of Dunfermline's best attacking threats with several trademark runs down the right side, one of which ended in a shot that Lennox held comfortably. McManus then broke upfield for Raith and saw his shot saved by Hutton.
The first goal was always going to be crucial and it came when Bobby Barr's 71st minute shot crept inside the post with Hutton diving full length, to put Rovers one up. The old adage "if you don't shoot, you don't score" was to be proved true when the shot-shy Dunfermline side went 2 goals behind after 79 minutes. Rovers sub Mark Stewart hit a fine shot that flew past Hutton to double the home side's lead.
Higginbotham (pictured, right) was doing all he could to bring the Pars back into the game but often had to over-elaborate as his team mates failed to move into space. Gavin Reilly then unbelievably decided to pass the ball across a busy goalmouth instead of shooting when presented with a chance from 8 yards in the 82nd minute.
Rovers were by this point in no danger of losing their lead. Dunfermline's performance again contained some positive aspects but ultimately the lack of effective strikers in the squad is now being felt in matches. The signing of one forward is essential before what could be a difficult game at home next week against Queen Of The South. Ideally 2 strikers would be brought in but finances may not allow that.
Pars line-up with marks out of 10 for each player:
Photos by Pars Review. A full match gallery will be uploaded tomorrow.