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Pre-match vs Dundee (and a review of our midweek game vs Hearts)



There was no let up for Rovers following last weeks heroics at Tynecastle with Hearts making the journey to Fife. There would be no repeat antics as the visitors strolled to a comprehensive 4-0 victory. John McGlynn was forced into changes as he lost the physical presence of both Gozie Ugwu and Ross Matthews. In their place, Manny Duku lead the line while there was a surprise return for Lewis Vaughan for the first time since Rovers Betfred Cup campaign.


Almost immediately, Hearts continued how they had finished the match at the weekend by piling pressure on the Rovers backline. Liam Boyce was a menace as the Jambos exerted their influence on the match. Within a 10 minute spell, the hosts lost the limited presence they had in the game and found themselves with a two goal deficit and a man down. Firstly, Liam Boyce played a one-two at the edge of the box before driving a shot high past Jamie MacDonald. Shortly after, a corner caught the Rovers defence unaware and was chested home by substitute Euan Henderson. With half time approaching, Regan Hendry was shown a red card for a stamp on Andy Halliday.


Raith had set up with a style to play out from the back and with Hearts consistently pressing forwards, there were many occasions where the home side played themselves in to trouble. Manny Duku cut a lone figure up top and lacked the link up play displayed by Gozie Ugwu to bring others into play. The second half turned into a procession with Hearts happy at their retribution for the embarrassment of the previous weekend.


New signing Armand Gnanduillet was introduced and grabbed a brace: his first came following an error with Dylan Tait dallying in possession. The forward was in the right place at the right time after MacDonald made a good save. The ex-Blackpool player then leapt to meet a header at a corner to round off a 4-0 win.


The social media reaction of the Rovers support was unanimous - while it was a poor performance fans were still happy to take three of the six points available from the two games. The added bonus of Lewis Vaughan returning from injury felt like a small victory in it's own right. There's a hope that the 25 year old can put his injury woes behind him and move forward with his career - it's the least he deserves. To get one serious injury is unfortunate - to have three is unheard of.


Attention now turns to today's game against Dundee. James McPake's side currently sit third in the league and three points ahead of Rovers having had a very 'Jekyll and Hyde' season: after a relatively slow start, the Dees have risen up the league but their away form has seen them win only one game in six. Despite of the shortened season, January offers a chance for managers to change their squads up anyway and Dundee have moved quickly to take up the opportunity. The last few days have seen Paul McMullan (Dundee United), Malachi Fagan-Walcott (on loan from Tottenham) and Jason Cummings (Shrewsbury) all join.


John McGlynn has also been active in the transfer market. With Ethan Ross being recalled to Aberdeen, the club moved quickly to bring in both Adam King (Dundee United) and Timmy Abraham (Fulham) on loan. While losing Ross is a particular blow given his stellar performances, Abraham represents a particularly eye-catching signing. Brother of Chelsea and England internationalist Tammy, the forward was closed to a move to Germany giants Borussia Dortmund last summer which seemingly fell through due to difficulty with paperwork according to media reports.


While the reviews of King have been less than glowing from United fans, Rovers supporters shouldn't be too quick to judge. The name Kevin Nisbet should pretty much be a timely reminder that past performances aren't guarantee that a player will be a write off. Footballers can thrive with a change of environment and our fans will no doubt have faith that John McGlynn can get the best out the midfielder.


Today represents another difficult game our fixture list. A win would be a tremendous result again given the disparity in resources available between the clubs. With 15 games to go, the table is highly congested and fans will be keeping a keen eye on the performances of other clubs come 3pm. While Dundee are in poor form away from home, they've made a statement of intent with the players they've brought in.


With Charlie Adam at the heart of their team, it will represent a stern test for Rovers. But after last weekend, there's a belief that anything is possible at the moment. It's up to John McGlynn to work out a system which can fit an abundance of such attacking players given the return of Vaughan and the loans of Kennedy and Abraham. With a question mark over Ross Matthews, Adam King might well be thrown in at the deep end against one of the strongest central midfields in the league.




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