Written by Adam Sturrock
ICTFC held their ground with a 2-2 draw away at Stark’s Park against Raith Rovers, narrowing the gap to 4th placed Partick Thistle to two points. It also maintained the Highlanders’ strong 23 year record against The Rovers.
ICT hoped to continue an away streak, following their win away at Arbroath. Scott Allardice and Cameron Harper returned to the squad from injuries, starting on the bench. Both teams otherwise fielded unchanged lineups from their last game in the league; Ross Millen returned for the hosts after an absence in the cup. The host’s latest loan signing, William Akio from Ross County, was registered on the day of the game but could only settle for the bench.
The home team started the early minutes of the half on the front foot.
Right back, Ross Millen, cut inside from the far right flank and whipped a high ball into the box. Gullan rose to meet it and his header struck the crossbar. Dylan Easton’s follow up was quickly closed down and blocked by a defender in the box.
Seven minutes later, ICT finally tested the keeper’s goal, after Daniel Mackay won a loose ball, attacked the free space behind and stung the palms of MacDonald on his left peg from a tight angle. Next came Billy Mckay, who was played through with a neat ball by Aaron Doran, but couldn’t quite clip his shot enough from an angle over the closing keeper.
The home side opened the score in the middle of the first half.
Lewis Vaughan chested down a cleared high ball outside the box and directed a right footed half-volley that trickled into the left hand corner.
Not to settle for the one goal, the Fifers tried to extend the lead about eight minutes before the whistle for half time, as Scott Brown received a ball from outside of the box and attempted a curling effort that was redirected above the bar by Delaney’s head for a corner.
From the restart the Caley Jags looked refreshed and took the initiative to quickly draw level. Billy Mckay was played down the channel, and his through-ball into Henderson set the winger up for a tidy driven shot across goal into the opposite corner.
But like the first half, Raith Rovers would go ahead again at the 62 minute mark. Vaughan found himself in space to drive forward on the ball before spreading a pass wide to Aidan Connolly, their top scorer. The winger took a touch to cut inside against Zak Delaney before bending a left shot towards Ridgers’ far post and hitting the inside netting.
Close to ten minutes from time, Billy Dodds made a spate of changes to try to get the Highlanders back into the game. And it worked, as substitute Steven Boyd won a freekick on the far side at around the 30 yard mark. Sean Welsh’s dinked set piece into the mixer was deftly flicked into the far corner by Billy Mckay, extending his tally to 11 for the season and again getting the scores level.
Unfortunately, the trick couldn’t be repeated two minutes before the end of normal time as ICTFC won another setpiece from a similar distance. Sean Welsh won a freekick after competing for the ball against Lang and Cameron Harper’s ball whipped in cross couldn’t find a Caley player at the back post.
The last chance for the game came into added time, as Scott Brown’s clipped shot couldn’t beat Mark Ridgers on his line and landed on the wrong side of the roof of the goal.