Raith Rovers ruled the Kingdom today and Lewis Vaughan was their king after his hat-trick won a frantic Fife derby and sealed progress in the Scottish Cup.
Dunfermline could claim the ascendancy until skipper Lee Ashcroft was red carded nine minutes into the second-half and sparked a horrible spell for the Pars. Vaughan broke the deadlock with a penalty and followed that with two goals in two minutes that sealed his hat-trick and the visitors’ fate as one end of a packed Stark’s Park emptied and the other partied.
“It was a great result for us,” said manager John McGlynn. “Even before a ball was kicked Stevie Crawford said to me ‘this is how it should be’, Raith Rovers against Dunfermline in front over 6,000, in a special atmosphere. We came out on top, so we’re absolutely delighted. I’m delighted for Lewis, I’m delighted for the team, I’m delighted for the club.
“It’s 34 years since the last time the two teams met in the Scottish Cup, which is more than a generation of fans. So, our fans will go away happy and it’s a great result for the players and everyone connected to the club. We’ll all take confidence from that.”
This was a Fife derby that was typically high on passion but, unfortunately, for the huge crowd that filled three sides of the ground, low on quality until Vaughan’s second-half intervention. Speculative efforts came and went before Dunfermline should have taken the lead eight minutes from the interval. Faissal El Bakhtaoui found space for a shot inside a crowded home box and when it was blocked by Kyle Benedictus it fell kindly for Myles Hippolyte but keeper Robbie Thomson dived to his right to brilliantly block on the line.
Championship Dunfermline had built up a head of steam against their League One hosts but the 55th-minute dismissal of captain Ashcroft, after he hauled down Chris Duggan as the last Pars defender, stymied their hopes and the wheels eventually fell off spectacularly.
The turning point was the penalty, as Mark Durnan - a replacement following Ashcroft’s red card - pulled over Duggan. Vaughan’s emphatic finish from the spot was followed 10 minutes later by a thumping close-range header after a terrific run and cross from Duggan. When the striker then picked the pocket of Danny Devine to emphatically rattle in his third it proved an afternoon that will live long in the memory of the home support.
“We had a fantastic support through and they’re away home upset, and they should be,” admitted new Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford, the former Raith Rovers player. “We lost the goal and then we go on to lose the game quite convincingly. It’s unacceptable.”