Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Raith Rovers will take a precious lead to Easter Road on Saturday in the second leg of the Premiership quarter-final after this narrow but dramatic win over Hibs. The Kirkcaldy side rode their luck on the night with the Edinburgh outfit bossing much of play but they passed up a succession of chances and ultimately paid the price. Raith boss Ray McKinnon made an inspired second-half substitution with Louis Longridge and Harry Panayiotou combining with the latter netting what proved to be the winner on the night. It capped what had been an incredible week for the on-loan Leicester City striker and his counter ensured it is all to play for Saturday lunchtime in the capital. McKinnon, who has been heavily linked with the vacant managerial hot-seat at Tannadice this week, made just one change from the team that won at Livingston at the weekend, with Kyle Benedictus returning from suspension at the expense of Longridge who dropped to the bench. That victory on Sunday extended Rovers’ unbeaten run to 11 games and they certainly took that momentum into the start of this game, making a brisk opening with a couple of hefty early challenges showing that Raith would not let their opponents settle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcBlNyWfpeE Rovers had the first half chance of the game in the sixth minute when Aiden Connolly hit a snap shot which was easily gathered by Hibs stopper Conrad Logan, then shortly after, the Edinburgh side had an opportunity of their own when Jason Cummings hit a fierce angled drive which home keeper Kevin Cuthbert did well to turn away at his near post. Hibs had another chance in the 11th minute when Marvin Bartley tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the Rovers penalty area but Cuthbert gathered at the second attempt. Alan Stubbs’ side continued to press and Lewis Stevenson hit a 14-yard shot just wide of Cuthbert’s left-hand post. Raith came storming back, though, and they came mighty close in the 19th minute when Ross Callachan played a cut-back to James Craigen who hit a vicious first-time effort just over Logan’s bar from 18 yards. https://youtu.be/eyTBzgsYjmE Hibs then had arguably the best opportunity of the game so far in the 28th minute when Fraser Fyvie sent a tempting cross in from the right towards Anthony Stokes but the on-loan Celtic striker could only guide his header into Cuthbert’s arms when he really should have tested the keeper. The visitors continued knocking at the Raith door and Liam Fontaine was next to have a great chance but the defender scooped the ball over the bar. Then in the 40th minute, Rovers’ hearts were in their mouths when John McGinn played a delightful ball over the home defence to Cummings but with just the keeper to beat, the striker sent a lobbed effort sailing over the bar. However, at half-time the scores remained level much to the home side’s relief. The start of the second-half followed a similar pattern to the opening 45, with Hibs dominating possession and territory. Cuthbert was tested once more in the 56th minute when he had to look lively to snuff out the danger from a whipped-in Stokes’ free-kick from the Hibs’ left. As the game entered the final 30 minutes, McKinnon must have been increasingly concerned that his players were sitting further and further back inviting Hibs onto them with another Stokes’ free-kick flashing narrowly wide of Cuthbert’s far post. However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 75th minute – by Rovers. They forced two corners in quick succession with sub Longridge sending both in from the left. The first was cleared but the second was met at the Hibs near post by fellow replacement Panayiotou, who powered a header past Logan. The Hibees keeper came to the rescue shortly after when he saved a fierce Longridge shot. With choruses of “there’s only one Ray McKinnon” rolling down from the Stark’s Park stands, the clock ticked down and Rovers held on to secure their precious victory. Attendance – 5,330. Raith Rovers – Cuthbert, Thomson, Callachan, Toshney, Benedictus, Davidson, Hardie (Stewart, 90), Connolly (Panayioutou, 64), McKeown, Craigen (Longridge, 64), Barr. Subs not used – Law, Anderson, Bates, Robertson. Hibs – Logan, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine (Henderson, 85), Bartley, Fyvie (McGeouch, 80), Stevenson, McGinn, McGregor, Stokes, Cummings (Keatings, 80). Subs not used – Oxley, Gunnarsson, Boyle, Dagnall Referee – Kevin Clancy.
Stenhousemuir kept alive their hopes of repeating their shock Challenge Cup win of nearly 20 years ago with a sparkling second-half showing to stun 2014 champions Raith. This Petrofac Cup tie was an intriguing battle of two former Challenge Cup winners, Stenny in 1995-96 and Raith much more recently against Rangers. Ray McKinnon’s Raith made the brighter start in the sunshine at Ochilview with a few decent efforts in the early stages. Ryan McCord volleyed wide from the edge of the box before Craig Wighton latched on to Mitch Megginson’s cross but Jamie Barclay saved. Stenny started to get a foothold and on 21 minutes Jon McShane smashed a 12-yard shot off the bar after Alan Smith’s flick-on. The Warriors had momentum and on the half-hour Kevin Cuthbert did well to push away Stuart Malcolm’s header. Two minutes after the break Alan Smith almost had the Warriors in front with a snapshot but Cuthbert made a fine one-handed save. McShane sent a looping header just over Cuthbert’s crossbar on 61 minutes after am enticing cross from full-back Jamie McCormack on the overlap. This was anybody’s game with both sides probing for the opener. However, it would need something special to break the deadlock. Alan Cook duly delivered with a perfectly placed left footed finish from the left of the box drilled into the bottom right after McShane’s assist. Raith were so close to an equaliser on 70 minutes with on-loan Dundee man Wighton heading off the post. They were to rue that miss less than 60 seconds later when Stirling caught Cuthbert off his line with an audacious 25-yard lob. Raith skipper Jason Thomson was shown a stoppage-time red card for a late tackle on Stirling.
The last time these two sides met in a League Cup semi-final back in January 2007 St Johnstone were the lower league club, and Hibs the Premier League one. And it was a case of what might have been for the Perth men. The competition was known as the CIS Insurance Cup in those days, and John Collins’ Hibs team had several future Scotland stars in their line-up. Scott Brown, Steven Whittaker and Steven Fletcher all started at Tynecastle, with the latter putting the heavy favourites ahead early on. But Saints, who had now Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes in their team, fought back strongly and deservedly equalised with 15 minutes to go through Jason Scotland. Owen Coyle’s men had chances to win the contest before it went into extra-time, with towering centre-back Kevin James causing havoc at set-pieces. The telling moment proved to be Perth keeper Kevin Cuthbert’s failure to hold a 30-yard David Murphy free-kick that sneaked into the bottom corner, and Abdessalam Benjelloun settled the game in the dying seconds on a Hibs counter-attack. “That didn’t do much for my grey hairs,” admitted Collins, whose team went on to beat Kilmarnock 5-1 in the final. “We know we can play a lot better than we did tonight. The first goal should have settled us down but for some reason we became very anxious, although St Johnstone are due enormous credit.” Coyle said: “I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the periods of dominance we had against a good Hibs side. But it just wasn’t to be.” Perth fans will be hoping that nine years later the top flight team will carry the luck again. The Saints team that night was - Cuthbert, Lawrie, McManus, James, Stanic, Mensing, McInnes, Hardie, (Jackson), Sheerin, Scotland, MacDonald (Morais). Hibs lined up - McNeil, Whittaker, Jones, Martis, Murphy, Sproule (McCann), Brown, Beuzelin, Stewart (Benjelloun), Shiels (Stevenson), Fletcher.
The sacrifice of Scottish sporting stars who took part in the Battle of the Somme will be remembered at two special services today. Services will be staged in Edinburgh and France to mark the century since the 15th and 16th Royal Scots went into action on July 1 1916. The 16th was famously called McCrae’s Battalion after Lieutenant-Colonel Sir George McCrae, who rallied the men of the Edinburgh to enlist beside him. During their advance on German defensive positions on the opening day of the Somme they lost more than three quarters of their strength. Those who survived regrouped at the French village of Contalmaison — where a Scottish cairn was erected in 2004. A memorial service will take place there at 9.15am French time and highlights will be relayed to the civic event at St Cuthbert’s Church at 12.30pm. The St Cuthbert’s service is being organised by the McCrae’s Battalion Trust and will be led by Army Padres. McCrae’s Battalion is also known as the Sporting Battalion after a group of Heart of Midlothian players enlisted, followed by professionals from other football and sporting clubs, and their supporters. One of the organisers of the service is Janice Todd, an elder at St Cuthbert’s church and whose uncle Jimmy Todd was one of the players who signed up. The Raith Rovers player was the first footballer in the battalion to be killed, falling in action before the Somme. Janice said: “I think this event is important because in a few years the immediate family members of the men who served and made the supreme sacrifice won’t be here to remember them and the First World War will, inevitably, be relegated to the history books. “We, in St Cuthbert’s Church and McCrae’s Battalion Trust, want people to know about this unique service so that they can come along and remember the fallen with us.” Representatives from Hearts, Hibs, Dunfermline Athletic, Raith Rovers and Falkirk teams will take part in the Edinburgh service while the chairman of McCrae’s Battalion Trust, Major Gary Tait, will be attending the Contalmaison service. Around 250 pilgrims and associates of the trust are making the journey to France.
Kevin “Cat” Cuthbert has become the latest player to sign up for manager Ray McKinnon’s Raith Rovers revolution. The Stark’s Park gaffer has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to tie up as many of this season’s successful squad for the next campaign and beyond. That is in contrast to recent seasons where there has been a big turnover in personnel every summer. Just this week, McKinnon persuaded Scott Robertson and Iain Davidson to put pen to paper on a one-year and a two-year deal respectively. Now, he has secured the services of 33-year-old Cuthbert, who has made 39 appearances for the club this term, for the next two seasons at least. McKinnon said: “I am absolutely delighted and this is one of our major signings for the future. “Cat has great qualities and ability. He has bags of experience and leads by example. “Kevin gives us a lot of strength and stability on the park and he is tireless on the training field. “He is self-motivating and just gets on with his job he is a credit to himself. “He is a right, good goalie and a really important signing for us.”
Raith Rovers and Dundee United fought out a pulsating 0-0 draw at Stark’s Park this afternoon. The Tangerines were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Lewis Toshney was sent off but they then missed a penalty with Tony Andreu being denied by Rovers keeper Kevin Cuthbert. Raith gaffer Gary Locke made three changes from the team that lost at St Mirren last Saturday with Kyle Benedictus, Bobby Barr and former United player Rudi Skacel coming in for Ross Matthews, Scott Roberts and Mark Stewart with all three dropping to the bench. Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon kept faith with the starting line-up that won narrowly at Ayr United last week. After a frantic opening to the match, the first real chance came in the 13th minute when Chris Johnston swung a cross in from the right to Bobby Barr lurking at the United back post but the winger could not get enough on the ball and Cammy Bell easily saved. The Tangerines’ first opportunity came in the 23rd minute when Tope Obadeyi had a shot saved by Cuthbert with Blair Spittal’s follow-up effort blocked by a defender. United centre-half Mark Durnan then tried an audacious long-range effort with Cuthbert out of his goal but the ball flew wide. After that, both sides struggled to carve out further chances but Raith did come agonisingly close to opening the scoring deep in stoppage time at the end of the half. Johnston sent a tempting cross in from the right with Skacel chesting the ball off the crossbar with United breathing a collective sigh of relief as they headed down the tunnel. The Tangerines suffered a hammer blow in the 54th minute when Toshney was sent off. The defender, who had been booked in the first half for a late challenge on Kyle Benedictus, was adjudged to have brought down Barr, with referee Steven Kirkland showing Toshney a second yellow followed by red. United coach Darren Taylor was then sent to the stand for protesting the decision. Rovers looked to make their one-man advantage count and Skacel sent a superb cross in from the left with Declan McManus heading just inches wide of Bell’s left-hand post. Blair Spittal then went close for McKinnon’s men when he sent an 18-yard shot past Cuthbert’s post. Then in the 75th minute, United were awarded their penalty when Tangerines sub Simon Murray tumbled in the box under a combined challenge by Benedictus and Jean-Yves M’voto. Andreu stepped up to take it but Cuthbert dived full stretch to his right to make a fine save to the anguish of the large travelling support behind him in the Val McDermid stand. Both sides tried manfully to break the deadlock but could find no way through and the game ended all square. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.
Rovers became the fourth side to lose five goals to Rangers this season as Mark Warburton set a club record by becoming the first Light Blues manager to win his first nine games in charge. Toshney insisted the league leaders are simply too good for the rest of Championship. “They are streets ahead of everybody else,” the defender said. “It’s the best I’ve seen them and they seem to be giving everyone five. “They kept it for fun, pressed us and we just couldn’t get out. When we had possession we kept giving it away cheaply and we need to address that. “We’ll not be down-hearted. We won’t come up against teams like that every week. “We’ll keep our heads up and go again for Queen of the South next week.” Raith conceded inside five minutes as a training ground set-piece saw Rangers work the ball to Lee Wallace in the box, and the full back steered a right-foot shot past Kevin Cuthbert. Rangers dominated the rest of the half, with Toshney clearing off the line from Gedion Zelalem. Raith defended stoutly until the stroke of half-time. A one-two on the edge of the area saw unstoppable right-back James Tavernier burst into the box to fire low past Cuthbert for his sixth goal of the season. Raith briefly threatened at the start of the second half and Rangers keeper Wes Foderingham tipped James Craigen’s 30-yard effort away from the top corner. However, the visitors fell three behind in the 54th minute. Nathan Oduwa was the instigator with a wonderful mazy run from halfway to touchline taking him past three challenges. His cut-back fell to Barrie McKay, who had a simple tap-in. It was 4-0 in the 63rd minute as Martin Waghorn fell to the ground under the slightest touch from Toshney and referee Brian Colvin pointed to the spot. Waghorn took the kick and sent Cuthbert the wrong way. Toshney conceded another penalty five minutes later and there was no doubting the ref’s decision this time as the centre-half hacked down Oduwa as he made another scintillating run. Waghorn completed the scoring with an identical finish to his earlier penalty. Raith boss Ray McKinnon was full of praise for Rangers’ performance but admitted his team could have made it harder for them. “They are an exceptional team and are playing with extreme confidence so it was a very tough game for us,” he said. “We won’t be judged against them, that’s for sure, we just take that on the chin and move on to the next game. “We could’ve done better when he had possession, we’re a better team than that but it’s very difficult to stop Rangers on that form.”
A Harry Forrester-inspired 2-0 win over Raith Rovers helped Rangers take another step towards automatic promotion. Title rivals Hibernian’s third defeat in a row at Queen of the South left the door open for the Glasgow side to extend their lead at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship to 14 points, with just nine games remaining. And they took it as Forrester the scorer of Gers’ last-gasp weekend winner against St Mirren put on his brightest display in a blue jersey since sealing his January move from Doncaster. Given the task of setting the tempo for Mark Warburton’s team, the Englishman pulled the strings in midfield before giving the hosts a first half lead, while skipper Lee Wallace sealed the victory with a second just after the interval. Rangers now just need five more wins to seal their Premiership return. Rovers boss Ray McKinnon admitted Wallace’s goal was a blow to his side’s hopes, saying: “We were disappointed to lose the second goal so soon after half-time because we had hoped to keep it tight then have a right push for it later on in the game. That killed us. “But Rangers are a right good team. They are dominating Premiership teams. They will be champions and there is no disgrace coming here and losing 2-0.” With Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash with top-flight Dundee on the horizon, Warburton rested veteran striker Kenny Miller and midfielders Nicky Law and Barrie McKay. That gave Forrester his chance to start alongside Billy King and Nicky Clark. Rovers, meanwhile, were prevented from picking Light Blues teenager Ryan Hardie for the Ibrox fixture under the terms of his loan agreement. Rangers started like they meant business as Jason Holt came close inside the opening 90 seconds while Forrester fizzed wide from 20 yards out. Ray McKinnon’s side, however, were not for lying down and gave the hosts a couple of scares with balls into Wes Foderingham’s goalmouth. But the breakthrough for the league leaders duly arrived after 27 minutes. Forrester’s clever footwork sucked in Rovers midfielder Ryan McCord and he span clear before whipping an unstoppable effort over the head of keeper Kevin Cuthbert. Warburton would have be slightly annoyed not to see his men further in front by the break but they resolved that complaint within six minutes of the restart. King’s jinking run from the left took him past three Raith players and the on-loan Hearts attacker looked up just in time to tee up Wallace arriving on the edge of the area. Rangers’ captain did not need a touch as he drilled a first-time shot under Cuthbert’s body into the net. Holt almost netted a spectacular scissors kick but was denied by Cuthbert, who also pushed away a powerful King strike before Gers comfortably played out the final stages. Attendance: 40,662. Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Danny Wilson, Wallace, Holt (Burt 82), Halliday (Ball 82), Forrester (Shiels 61), O’Halloran, King, Clark. Subs not used: Bell, Law, Miller, McKay Raith: Cuthbert, Thomson, Barr, Toshney, McKeown, Anderson (Connolly 70), Craigen, Davidson, Matthews (Thomas 61), McCord (Robertson 55), Panayiotou. Subs not used: Callachan, Ford, Court, Law. Referee: Craig Charleston.
Scotland would not benefit from continuing to form a monetary union with the rest of the UK in the long-term, according to a study which concluded the UK economy is “dysfunctional”. The Scottish Government’s stated preference is for an independent Scotland to retain the pound as part of a UK-wide currency union. However, economist Margaret Cuthbert found joining a currency union with the rest of the UK could “condemn” Scotland to “continuing to share in the chronic underperformance which the dysfunctional UK currency area has exhibited in the past”. In other findings, her study also concluded successive Westminster government policies have been more suited to London at the expense of most other countries and regions in the UK. The new paper was published yesterday by the think tank the Jimmy Reid Foundation and analyses data covering three decades. It says: “First, by examining the performance of the different parts of the UK economy over the past 30 years, it shows how dysfunctional the UK economy has been. “Second, by comparing Scotland and the UK with other economies, it shows that the UK and Scotland have not been performing well and that in dynamic terms, the economy has been steered in a wrong direction.” A Yes Scotland spokesman said: “Ms Cuthbert’s report supports what Yes Scotland has been saying that Scotland is one the wealthiest countries in the world, that it consistently outperforms the rest of the UK and that Westminster is not working for us.”