Raith Rovers defied the odds to win the Ramsdens Cup for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Rangers at Easter Road in front of over 19,000 spectators on Sunday.
We came, we saw, we conquered. Raith Rovers: 2014 Ramsdens Cup Winners. #UnthinkableSurely— RRFC Official (@RaithRovers_FC) April 6, 2014
Despite being somewhat of a David vs. Goliath contest, Raith rose to the occasion and looked dangerous from the offset, but couldn’t find a way past Rangers in normal time.
With the scores locked at 0-0 and penalties beckoning as extra time played out, John Baird pounced on a rebound following Greig Spence’s effort to fire Rovers to dreamland.
The Ramsdens Cup will join the League Cup on Raith’s honours list, after the Fife side disposed of another Glaswegian side in the 1994/95 final, Celtic, as SPLstats revealed via Twitter:
Raith Rovers have won the Challenge Cup for the first time, and their first cup trophy since the 1994/95 League Cup.— SPLstats (@SPLstats) April 6, 2014
Following the match, Rangers manager Ally McCoist spoke to Neil Smith of the official club website and rued his side’s missed chances in a match that could have gone either way:
I’m extremely disappointed as you can imagine, as are the players. The game itself, we didn’t play well but I thought we had the better chances. When you don’t take them you obviously run the risk of losing a goal and that’s the way it worked out. We didn’t play well enough but we should still have scored given the number of chances we created. But there was a slackness about us on occasions defensively today and it came back to bite us. That was the first time we haven’t scored this season in a game and it’s our second defeat, albeit both of them have been in extra time. But it still hurts and I thought the manner in which we lost the goal was very, very poor as well.
McCoist’s side started the match on the front foot, but found keeper Lee Robinson in inspired form in the Raith goal.
Ian Black’s early effort was tipped over brilliantly by Robinson, before he was also at his best to deny Steven Smith and Lee Wallace as the game became more and more frustrating for the Ibrox club.
Robinson’s outstanding performance was quickly acknowledged by the Twitter community, with GURU Goalkeeping heaping particular praise on the 27-year-old stopper:
Fantastic performance from Raith Rovers keeper Lee Robinson! #RamsdensCup— GURU Goalkeeping (@GURUGoalkeeping) April 6, 2014
Raith kept themselves in the game and certainly didn’t look out of their depth against the Glasgow giants, going close through Callum Booth and Joe Cardle as the minutes ticked away in Edinburgh.
Bilel Mohsni then had the chance of the match with just five minutes remaining. The Frenchman found himself unmarked with the goal gaping, but could only head harmlessly over.
It was beginning to look like one of those days for Rangers, and as the match went deep into extra time, Raith landed the decisive blow following some calamitous defending.
Mohsni, who earlier squandered the chance for victory, slipped while attempting a clearance before Lee McCulloch blasted the ball against Ricky Foster, whom Spence then took on before driving a shot toward goal.
Cammy Smith got down to save well, but the ball fell to the grateful feet on Baird, who won it at the death for Raith. Rangers’ official Twitter feed reported the goal as it went in, much to the dismay of Gers fans:
'116 - GOAL: #RRFC have the ball in the back of the net. Bell with a save and Baird was there to shoot beyond Bell to make it 1:0 to Raith.— Rangers FC Official (@RFC_Official) April 6, 2014
The Ramsdens Cup loss has heaped more pressure on McCoist in the Rangers' hot seat despite orchestrating a convincing Scottish League One title-winning campaign this year on the club’s quest to return to the top of Scottish game.
With a Scottish Cup semi-final tie with Dundee United just one week away, McCoist needs to find a way to restore fans’ faith in his managerial ability, or he could be on his way out of Ibrox.
Take nothing away from Raith Rovers, though. On a day where their role was simply being Rangers’ next victims, their professionalism shone through and they got their just rewards with a dramatic victory.
Both sides will meet in next year’s Scottish Championship, where Rangers will be seeking revenge for their humbling defeat. Whether McCoist will have the chance to inflict such revenge remains to be seen.