IT WAS only last April that Raith Rovers earned their place in Kirkcaldy folklore when they toppled Rangers in the final of the Ramsdens Cup.
Yesterday, at Forthbank, manager Grant Murray was just relieved to see his side negotiate a difficult path past a Stirling Albion side who gave as good as they got against their Championship opponents.
Stirling, despite their position at the bottom of League One, started in bright fashion and should have taken the lead after just three minutes. On loan Hearts midfielder Angus Beith sent over a great cross for Gordon Smith but the former Raith front man sent his header wide.
Grant Anderson watched his attempt at goal go past the post while team-mate Mark Stewart looked set to score before Stirling goalkeeper Callum Reidford made a fine block.
It was a typical Cup tie, end to end, and Stirling were only denied the lead thanks to the brilliance of Raith goalkeeper David McGurn when he made a superb one-handed save from Sandy Cunningham’s shot which appeared destined for the roof of the net.
Stirling, now under the charge of former Loughborough University FC head coach Stuart McLaren, were playing with great purpose, underlined by Cunningham’s ferocious shot saved again by McGurn.
With the interval only seconds away, on loan Ranger Barrie McKay made it 1-0 for Raith with a cool left-foot finish.
Anderson made life more comfortable for Raith thanks to his superbly struck left-foot volley which gave Reidford no chance.
It might have been the end of the Cup road for Stirling, but they emerged from the game with a great deal of credit.
But’s it’s Raith who grabbed their place in the next round with the main difference being their level of finishing as illustrated by McKay and Anderson.