Raith Rovers 3-0 Pars, pre-season friendly

ATHLETIC'S preparations for this weekend's Betfred Cup opener took a further dent last night as they lost their final pre-season match at Raith Rovers.

The relegated Kirkcaldy side hit three goals without reply at Stark's Park as Dunfermline ended their warm-up games with three defeats, 11 goals conceded and, worryingly, just two scored.

Manager Allan Johnston lamented afterwards that the "only positive is that it is a pre-season game" and he will be looking for significant improvements when Elgin City come calling in their Betfred Cup group opener on Saturday.

Summer recruit Declan McManus was fit to make his Pars debut against his former club, but Nicky Clark and David Hopkirk missed out through injury.

Johnston had stated that trying different formations and players in different positions was something he'd be using pre-season for but the visitors started with a more recognisable back four, with Jean-Yves M'Voto lining up beside Callum Morris at centre back.

There was no sign of trialists Michael Coulson and Cammy King, who had featured in Thursday's 4-0 reverse to Hibernian, but it was two of Dunfermline's experienced campaigners who were involved in Rovers' 24th minute opener.

Joe Cardle's pass put Morris in trouble at the edge of his own box but, as he tried a clever turn while being pressurised by Greig Spence, he was dispossed by Bobby Barr.

The winger then squared for ex-Par Liam Buchanan to slot home from eight yards after Sean Murdoch raced from his line in a bid to smother at the edge of the six-yard box.

It got worse just eight minutes later when Lewis Vaughan doubled Raith's advantage, hooking home an excellent volley from Barr's cross.

There wasn't much for the 493 travelling fans to get excited about and a poor night was rounded off in the final minute.

Ross Matthews robbed Michael Paton of possession in midfield, strode forward towards the edge of the box before sending a shot into the bottom corner of the net that bounced over the despairing hands of Murdoch.

Johnston commented: "The second half was much better, first half we started well and were probably the team on the ascendancy but then we lost a very poor goal. We just had to clear our lines and we tried to overplay. We lose the goal and that gave Raith a bit of momentum.

"You have to be strong when you lose a goal, you cannot afford to lose a second because the second is always important. That is what we need to learn from. Every time we lose a goal we look very weak.

"It is not good enough, you still don`t like getting beat. We need to improve dramatically, we have a long way to go but the only positive is that it is a pre season game."

Pars: Murdoch, Williamson, M'Voto, Morris, Martin, Higginbotham, Splaine (Smith 45), Wedderburn, Paton, Cardle, McManus (Lochhead 62).

Subs not used: Ashcroft, Morrison, Duthie, Luke, Gill.