Danny Rogers happy to revel in wonder save for Falkirk
While the Dons arrive in the Gulf, Rogers was continuing to enhance his burgeoning reputation in the rather more modest surroundings in Kirkcaldy, turning in a virtuoso performance for Falkirk.
And as his parent club enjoy a warm-weather training camp, the on-loan goalkeeper was pivotal for the Bairns on a chilly Fife afternoon, making a sensational save to claw a Declan McManus header clear from under the cross-bar with the score at 2-1.
His manager, Peter Houston, appeared genuinely astonished when he said: “I have absolutely no idea how he saved that.”
Providing he continues to excel, and Falkirk keep stringing together the victories, there is nowhere Rogers would rather be. Including the United Arab Emirates. Or Tenerife.
“Funnily enough, I asked the gaffer if I could take this week off!” he joked. “Dubai would have been great but I would always rather be playing football than going to Dubai. I’m delighted to be here and, after a massive result, we can kick on now. Big saves in big games are worth more than being in Dubai. It’s about learning and getting better. I can go home a happy man.
“Most of the [Aberdeen] boys have actually been in Tenerife having family holidays last week before they arrive in Dubai – so that is even more galling. No, I’m only joking, Kirkcaldy instead of that isn’t too bad – as long as you win.”
Based on the early exchanges, that was not a foregone conclusion. Gary Locke’s side claimed a deserved lead after ten minutes when Ryan Stevenson dispossessed Mark Kerr on the edge of the box, diverting the ball into the path of Chris Johnston, who lifted the ball over Rogers to score just Rovers’ third goal in eight games.
The fact that Stevenson was on the field to play such a pivotal role in the strike was staggering, given, mere minutes earlier, he has been pole-axed by Rogers as the duo jumped for a cross – taking a knee to the ribs and an arm to the head. The former Hearts attacker was ultimately replaced by McManus after 19 minutes and, seeing double and suffering nausea, was taken to hospital.
“I thought I had really seriously hurt him,” said Rogers. “I saw blood coming out of his mouth and was scared that I had punctured his lung. I couldn’t believe he came back on.”
While Stevenson’s lung is in tact, his exit did take the wind out of Rovers. Falkirk levelled after 16 minutes when Myles Hippolyte curled a spectacular free-kick from 25 yards beyond Kevin Cuthbert, before Bob McHugh produced a sharp turn inside the box and lashed a low drive into the corner. Then came Rogers’ marquee intervention, showing astounding reflexes to stop McManus’ close-range header from crossing the line.
The importance of that save was underlined when, within 60 seconds, the elusive Craig Sibbald dropped a shoulder 30 yards from goal and struck a powerful drive.
Inexplicably, Cuthbert attempted to save it with his feet. He failed, and the ball crept into the net.
Any hope of an unlikely comeback in the second period was dashed within three minutes of the restart when the excellent Tony Gallacher produced an inch-perfect cross for Sibbald to claim his brace, via a deflection off Kyle Benedictus.
With Falkirk going five points clear of Raith in the race for the play-offs, the audibly disgruntled home supporters will be seeking any solace this morning, and some may come with the news that Jordan Thompson appears destined to extend his stay in Fife.
The on-loan Rangers youngster has been superb this term, making 18 appearances for Rovers and is keen to remain at the club until the end of the season in order to win a new deal with the Ibrox club.
“The two clubs are talking and it’s looking promising that I’ll be staying at Raith until the end of the season,” said the Northern Irishman.