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Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Raith Rovers – Star man, player ratings and match report as league leaders stay top with 4th straight Fife derby win

Defender Dan O'Reilly was Raith Rovers' hero with a match-winning double.

Dan O'Reilly was Raith Rovers' match winner in the Fife derby against Dunfermline Athletic. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson.
Dan O'Reilly was Raith Rovers' match winner in the Fife derby against Dunfermline Athletic. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson.

Raith Rovers earned a fourth consecutive Fife derby victory with a Dan O’Reilly double to stay top of the Championship.

In front of a bumper crowd of 8,447, defender O’Reilly gave Raith an 11th-minute opener before Ben Summers lashed in the equaliser for Dunfermline Athletic.

But O’Reilly’s second five minutes into the second-half restored Raith’s advantage.

A raucous encounter raged from end to end as time ticked down but Raith held on to keep their noses in front of Dundee United at the summit of the SPFL Championship table.

Team News

There was good news and bad for hosts Dunfermline as Rhys Breen recovered from the hamstring worries that resurfaced in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Ayr United.

But Kyle Benedictus, pressed into action at Somerset Park when Breen limped off, dropped out of the squad after what looked like a recurrence of his thigh problem.

MIdfielder Paul Allan also joined the likes of Matty Todd, Lewis McCann and Kane Ritchie-Hosler on the treatment table.

But Chris Hamilton was restored to the centre of the Pars’ defence with the aid of a mask after suffering a fractured cheekbone in the recent draw with Arbroath.

Dan O'Reilly celebrates opening the scoring for Raith Rovers in the Fife derby against Dunfermline Athletic. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson.
Dan O’Reilly celebrates opening the scoring for Raith Rovers in the Fife derby against Dunfermline Athletic. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson.

On the bench, Taylor Sutherland joined brother Jake after being called back from his loan at Bonnyrigg Rose.

For Raith, Shaun Byrne returned from suspension to anchor the midfield alongside skipper Scott Brown.

And winger Josh Mullin was brought back into the side in a move that was to prove crucial.

DAFC’s fast start comes to nothing

There were justĀ 23 seconds on the clock when Joe Chalmers drilled in a low shot that was held by Raith keeper Kevin Dabrowski.

In the third minute, Chris Hamilton’s glancing header from a Chalmers corner slipped beyond the far post.

The Pars were clearly up for this.

Defender Dan O'Reilly celebrates with his teammates after scoring to give Raith Rovers the lead in the Fife derby against Dunfermline Athletic. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.
Dan O’Reilly bundled in the opener for Raith Rovers. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.

But the fast start amounted to nothing when Raith seized the initiative with the breakthrough after just 10 minutes.

Lewis Vaughan won a free-kick with a nutmeg on Chalmers and Mullin curled in a magnificent in-swinging delivery.

Vaughan got his boot to the ball and, when Deniz Mehmet batted the effort away, O’Reilly followed in to bundle into the net from close range.

Dunfermline shrug off more injury woes

Sam Fisher had only just recovered from a concussion injury to return to the team against Ayr United on Saturday.

To see the former Dundee defender require lengthy treatment before being helped off on a stretcher covered in blood summed up Dunfermline’s season.

At the other end, Dabrowski was clearly struggling with a thigh injury, which left his defenders taking goal-kicks and the Rovers keeper making clearances only with his weaker left foot.

Dunfermline Athletic defender Sam Fisher is taken off the pitch on a stretcher after suffering a facial injury in the Fife derby against Raith Rovers. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.
Dunfermline Athletic defender Sam Fisher was forced off with a facial injury. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.

And the Pole certainly looked slow getting down to Dunfermline’s 38th-minute leveller.

Summers glided forward and sidestepped a weak challenge before smacking in an explosive 25-yard shot that beat Dabrowski low to his right.

Mehmet had previously turned a Mullin shot round the post and the winger and Ross Millen had fired over as Rovers sought a second.

But all of a sudden they had it all to do again.

See-saw encounter

Mehmet proved his worth in the final minute of the first-half with a superb save as he clawed Mullin’s curling shot away from his top corner.

And Raith then survived an almighty goalmouth scramble – and penalty appeal – as a frenetic first-half drew to a close.

And the start to the second was no less frantic as Rovers regained the lead in the 51st minute.

Dan O'Reilly gets his head to the ball ahead of Dunfermline Athletic defender Josh Edwards to make it 2-1 to Raith Rovers. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.
Dan O’Reilly scores to make it 2-1 to Raith Rovers. Image: Ewan Bootman / SNS Group.

Again, Mullin’s set-piece expertise did the damage and O’Reilly showed the most determination in a crowded box to head in from eight yards out.

Dunfermline came again and Dabrowski pulled off a brilliant diving save from Aaron Comrie’s header before Alex Jakubiak struck the crossbar with a shot from a tight angle.

But the home side’s grandstand finish failed to pay off as Dabrowski kept a deflected effort out in injury-time.

Star Man: Dan O’Reilly (Raith Rovers)

O’Reilly made his Raith debut in the Scottish Cup victory in this fixture back in November, claiming an assist on that occasion.

This time, he lit up the derby by getting himself on the score sheet.

With his short-term contract expiring on Monday, it was a perfectly-timed double.

Player Ratings

Dunfermline Athletic (3-4-1-2): Mehmet 7; Fisher 5 (Moffat 23 5), Hamilton 6, Breen 6 (O’Halloran 74 3); Comrie 6, Otoo 6, Chalmers 6, Edwards 6; Summers 7; Wighton 6 (T Sutherland 82 3), Jakubiak 6. Subs not used: Sharp, Little, Fenton, Hoggan. J Sutherland. Booked: Comrie, Breen, Chalmers.

Raith Rovers (4-2-3-1): Dabrowski 7; Millen 6, O’Reilly 8, Murray 6, Dick 6; Brown 7 (Matthews 81 3), Byrne 7; Mullin 7, Vaughan 6 (Connolly 89 3), Easton 6 (Smith 81 3); Hamilton 6 (Gullan 69 3). Subs not used: Thomson, McNeil, Smith, Corr, McGill, Hannah. Booked: Byrne.

Referee: Graham Grainger.

Attendance: 8,447