Evening Telegraph (First Edition)
How depleted Rovers squad persevered to clinch final showdown
RAITH Rovers are again preparing for an SPFL Trust Trophy final.
The holders will take on Hamilton Accies on Sunday at the Falkirk Stadium looking to extend a run in the competition that goes back four seasons – and collect a trophy along the way.
It will be a second final in as many years for a number of his players – and manager Ian Murray has called on them to “seize the opportunity”.
If they do, it will go down as arguably Rovers’ greatest achievement in the Challenge Cup across the last four years.
Every one of their matches en-route to the final has pitted them against Championship opposition away from home.
And they got through those two matches while down to the bare bones.
Here is the story of how Raith Rovers reached yet another Challenge Cup final.
Last 16: Cove Rangers 0-1 Raith Rovers
This result may be the least impressive of the three but it was a match that was used to give fringe players minutes and to rest others who had played almost every – if not every – minute until then.
Robbie Thomson replaced Jamie MacDonald in goals and Liam Dick was moved into the centre of defence for the first time and there were starts for Connor McBride and Quinn Coulson.
McBride scored the only goal of the game to fire Rovers into the quarter-final.
QF: Queen’s Park 0-1 Raith Rovers
Owen Coyle’s league leaders made a number of changes but still looked huge favourites when Rovers boss Murray announced ahead of the game that he only had 12 outfield players available.
That included Kieran Mitchell, who was recalled from his loan at Bonnyrigg Rose the day before and named in the starting XI.
With both first and second-choice goalkeepers missing, Andy McNeil started between the sticks and 18-year-old Adam Masson played at right-back.
Just as the match looked like it was trundling towards another half-hour in horrendous weather, another star making a rare appearance netted the winner.
There can’t have been many who were confident when John Frederiksen ran onto a loose ball before firing it into the bottom corner.
SF: Dundee 2-2 Raith Rovers (3-4 on pens)
If Rovers thought they were up against it in the quarter-final, the stakes were ramped up in the next round.
Where Queen’s Park made many changes to their line-up, Dundee went with a strong side and Murray was again facing selection issues.
That was exacerbated in the first half when Masson was taken off with the hosts 2-0 ahead.
It also meant an even stranger sight – albeit in slightly better conditions – as Dylan Easton warmed up alone at the break.
With fewer than 15 minutes remaining it looked like Rovers had met their match, but William Akio – out of nowhere – nodded in.
Within minutes Sam Stanton had levelled, sparking wild scenes among the away supporters.
Raith slogged their way through extra-time before taking advantage of Dundee’s deficiencies from the spot to reach the final.