Forfar Athletic went into Wednesday evening’s game, against Raith Rovers, knowing that a point, or more, would guarantee them the SPFL Development League East title. What unfolded was a performance that achieved this objective and more. The young ‘Loons’ exceeded what was required of them, and delivered a classy display to beat their visitors 3-0. Craig Smith put the hosts 1-0 up in the first half before Jack Neave scored just after the hour mark. Kerr Hay completed the scoring late on, with a superbly executed move, to round off a superb demonstration of Forfar Athletic’s capabilities. Consistent performances like this are the reason they are the champions.
Forfar began the game strongly, determined to get the job done as soon as possible. In the 5th minute Craig Smith was played through on goal but, as he pulled the trigger, his shot was superbly blocked by Raith Rovers defender Oliver Flemming. Goalkeeper Scott Law was on hand to tidy up the loose ends.
On the 17th minute Raith Rovers had an opportunity to take the lead. With some neat passing interchanges the ball fell to the feet of Liam McCroary yards from goal. The number 8’s effort was dramatically cleared off of the line by the Forfar defence.
Three minutes later the home side went close to scoring. Cameron Clark made a fine run, cutting in from the right wing. He then looked to curl a shot, from outside the box, into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Unfortunately for him his attempt ended up going past the wrong side of the post.
Shortly afterwards Forfar’s James Dale was brought down by Kieran Campbell just on the edge of the 18-yard line. The referee awarded a free kick to Forfar and Kerr Hay stepped up to take it. The forward struck a low, hard shot towards goal but it went straight into the arms of Law, who held on well.
Scott Law was needed later on as Forfar continued to press for a goal. In the 27th minute full back, James Yates, delivered a pinpoint cross from the right side aimed at Cameron Clark. Law came scrambling out and managed to successfully get his fingertips to the ball. His actions diverted the ball away from Clark and gave the Raith Rovers’ defence a chance to clear the danger.
In the 31st minute Raith Rovers managed to work a fantastic opportunity for themselves. Callum Robertson was able to break free of the Forfar defence but his shot at goal flew over the crossbar.
Raith Rovers would have regretted missing that chance as, just a minute later, Forfar took the lead. Craig Smith was played through on goal and expertly rounded Scott Law, who had raced out to meet him. With Sean Mackie and Oliver Flemming racing back to their goal line to cover their goalkeeper, Smith superbly kept his composure and slotted the ball past both of them.
Raith responded well to going a goal down and came agonizingly close to leveling the scores in the 37th minute. Robertson managed to get his head onto a cross from the left wing but only managed to direct it towards his teammate, Jonny Court. Standing just a few yards from goal, with no defenders around, Court’s instinctive reaction header went just past the post, much to his dismay. A difficult chance but one he would love to have had again.
Forfar Athletic looked to reassume control of the match soon after through Paul McLellan. The number 7 made a great run down the right wing before firing a low cross into the penalty area. Flemming, however, was on hand to boot the ball out for a corner before it could reach a blue shirt.
In the 43rd minute McLellan was at it again when he intercepted a long pass from Law. The wide man ran towards goal before unleashing a fierce strike at the target. Law excellently dived to his right to save and hold McLellan’s attempt, making amends for his loose pass.
Shortly before the half time break James Dale executed one of the most perfectly executed tackles you are ever likely to see. After he regained possession of the ball he then passed it towards Clark. The number 11 expertly weaved his way through the Raith Rovers challenges before laying it off to McLellan on the right flank. McLellan returned the ball to Clark who then looked to deliver a low cross into the box. The ball was cleared by the Raith Rovers defence and out for a corner. From the resulting kick McLellan came close as the ball skimmed across his head. It then fell to the feet of Jack Neave at the far post and the centre back wasted no time in firing towards goal. His shot, however, was deflected over the crossbar and, at that moment, the referee concluded the first period of the game.