Raith Rovers 1-1 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 21st July 2018, KO 15:00 | Betfred Cup | Bayview Stadium
A Michael Smith wonder goal secured a share of the spoils for Hearts in today’s Betfred Cup group stage match away to Raith Rovers.
The hosts took a second-half lead against the run of play through Kevin Nisbet, but Smith’s top-corner strike got the Jambos back on level terms, and they would go on to win the penalty shootout for a bonus point.
Craig Levein made two changes from the side that defeated Cove Rangers in midweek; Smith replaced Callumn Morrison while Steven Naismith came in for Steven MacLean, who was rested.
The Jambos were first to make the ‘keeper work after only three minutes, when Naismith was fouled 20-yards from goal. Kyle Lafferty laid it off for Olly Lee to drill low but a deflection from the wall took it into the path of Robbie Thomson who gathered comfortably.
Raith had an opportunity of their own four minutes later when Chris Duggan shrugged off a series of Hearts challenges to curl an effort goalward from outside of the box but it was straight down the throat of Zdenek Zlamal.
Lee went close again on ten minutes, holding off his man after taking down Oliver Bozanic’s corner, but his stab at goal was deflected just wide.
Lafferty came closest to opening the scoring after 26 minutes following another foul on Naismith. The Northern Ireland striker struck a powerful free-kick from 25-yards that took a deflection, carrying the ball inches wide of Thomson’s left-hand post.
Raith could’ve taken the lead in the 38th minute when Euan Valentine got away from Peter Haring and sent a great cross to the back door for Jamie Watson, but the full-back could only head wide with the goal at his mercy.
There was still time before the half was out for one more Hearts chance as Jake Mulraney got down the left to fire over a cross to Lafferty, but the striker’s shot went into the ground and up into the arms of Thomson.
The hosts took the lead six minutes into the restart. Grant Gillespie’s through ball made its way into the path of Nisbet after John Souttar could only succeed in wiping out Haring as he went for it, and the Rovers striker prodded beyond Zlamal and into the back of the net.
In need of an equaliser, Hearts went searching for it. Mulraney cut inside from the left to lay the ball back to Bozanic but his low drive from 15-yards was straight at Thomson.
Substitute Aidan Keena, who had replaced Lafferty, shot from distance but Thomson dived to his right to make a comfortable save.
Haring made the ‘keeper work in the 65th minute, looping a header on target from Smith’s cross but Thomson leapt to pluck the ball from the air on his line.
With 12 minutes remaining Smith came to Hearts rescue, picking up the ball 25-yards out before smashing an unstoppable left-foot drive beyond Thomson and into the top corner of the net.
Hearts then bombarded the Raith goal with constant pressure and thought they had won the match in the final minute when he headed home from Bobby Burns’ cross but referee Don Robertson ruled there had been a push on Raith ‘keeeper Thomson, despite it coming from his own player.
A penalty shootout for the bonus point followed, with Hearts winning 4-2 thanks to strikes from Smith, Keena, Naismith and Souttar.
Raith Rovers: Thomson, Eatson, Valentine, Davidson, Murray, Benedictus, Duggan (Milne, 62'), Gillespie, Matthews, Nisbet (Stevenson, 80'), McKay. Subs: McGuff, Berry.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Haring, Souttar, Berra, Mulraney (McDonald, 73'), Burns, Lee, Bozanic (Morrison, 58'), Naismith, Lafferty (Keena, 51'). Subs: Doyle, Hughes, Garuccio, Edwards.
Referee: Don Robertson