The return match between Aberdeen and Raith Rovers was played at Stark's Park, Kirkcaldy on Saturday. Aberdeen won the first game at Pittodrie in October by 3-1, but since that time there have been several changes in the Rovers' team, while on the Aberdeen side Edgar and Ruddiman took the places of G. McNicol and J. Mackie, who played in the opening match. There was a large attendance of spectators, and the "gate" - amounting to £45 - was the largest taken at the Rovers' ground on a Saturday afternoon this season. The receipts on the same ground last Monday in the match against the Clyde totalled almost £70. When the teams turned out a slight drizzle fell, and this, coupled with the long grass in some parts of the field, was not conducive to a good exhibition of football. The players lined up as follows:-
Aberdee: Macfarlane; Murray, McNicol; Halkett, Strang, Low; Robertson, Edgar, Ruddiman, McAulay, Ritchie.
Raith Rovers: Mackie; Inglis, Stewart; Neilson, Philip, Grierson; MacDonald, Proctor, Wallace, Gray, Bell.
Referee - Mr. Dougray, Nitshill
Aberdeen kicked off, and the Rovers were soon at their opponents' goal. Twice in the first few minutes the Rovers centre shot past from close range. A long pass from Low let Ritchie away on the left, but the right back stopped his progress. The Rovers were doing most of the pressing, and Low and Murray were specially prominent in the defence. Ritchie cleverly outwitted the right half, and then crossed to Robertson, who failed to take advantage when favourably placed. Strang, McAulay, and Ritchie had a capital combined run, and only the sure tackling of Inglis, backed up by the strong play of Neilson at right half, prevented the downfall of the Rovers' goal. The Kirkcaldy forwards showed little combination, rather depending on their strong kicking, and speed to carry them along. Duncan McNicol returned the ball in rousing fashion. McAulay was making straight for goal when, after getting clear of the opposing half-backs, he was badly fouled near the penalty line. The fee kick was sent behind. The Rovers got away on the left, and Murray kicked out from almost under the crossbar. Altogether, however, the play could not be described as brilliant. Strong kicking by the backs on both sides was the feature of the game for a considerable time. Ritchie and McAulay passed beautifully on the left, and, up to this point were the only two forwards who had shown any combination. Ruddiman had a promising run down the centre, but was checked by Inglis a few yards in front of Mackie. The Aberdeen centre forward was again prominent , and passed to McAulay, who struck the crossbar with a neat header. Aberdeen were now having the best of the argument, and Henry Low almost beat the goalkeeper with a fast shot. The Rovers' forwards lost a couple of glorious chances of scoring, once in particular when they had no one in front of them but Macfarlane. Ruddiman immediately afterwards shot high over the bar from about ten yards in front of Mackie. Fully 30 minutes of the game had gone, when the Rovers opened the scoring. Wallace received a pass from Gray in midfield, and running straight for goal, the centre got clear of the half-backs, and then crossing towards the right wing, shot from about 20 yards out with great force. Macfarlane was in readiness, and, in attempting to clear, fisted the ball against the crossbar. The goalkeeper again tried to save his charge from the rebound, but ultimately the ball landed in the far corner of the net. Aberdeen made a praiseworthy effort to get on lever terms, and with a little luck might have succeeded. The Kirkcaldy half-backs, however, were an energetic, go-ahead lot, and seldom allowed the Aberdeen forwards to settle down. Philip, at centre-half, kept Ruddiman well in hand, and also had some capital tries for goal. Wallace came very near to scoring again towards half-time, but Macfarlane was equal to the occasion.
The second half opened quietly, with the Rovers pressing, as the result of some clever play on the right wing. McNicol tackled and cleared with great skill, but the Aberdeen forwards found it a difficult matter to get far afield. Robertson got away on the right, and subsequently sent across to Ritchie on the extreme left, who was puled up by Stewart before he got dangerous. The Rovers' defence was now taxed to the fullest extent, and it looked as though Aberdeen would equalise. Stewart and Inglis were very safe, however, the first-named twice clearing good efforts from McAulay. Gray and Bell, on the left wing, proved very troublesome to the Aberdeen defence, where Murray was seen to great advantage. On one occasion he cleared with three forwards in close proximity, and shortly thereafter he again proved too quick for the Rovers' centre, who was dribbling straight for Macfarlane. The game now devolved into a duel between the Kirkcaldy forwards and the Aberdeen backs, and the wonder was that the home team did not increase their lead, for they certainly had several fine opportunities. McAulay was the only Aberdeen forward who appeared to realise that a goal was required to equalise matters, but was not supported as he ought to have been. Strong kicking by the Rovers' half-backs kept the play in the Aberdeen quarters. An individual run by Ruddiman relieved the monotony, and, crossing over to Robertson, the latter player unfortunately fell on the ball when about to shoot, and thus an excellent chance of scoring was lost to Aberdeen. The play was now more equally divided. Smart saving my Macfarlane elicited loud cheers from the spectators, a hard drive by Wallace being stopped by the goalkeeper almost on the line. Ruddiman and McAulay were next prominent for Aberdeen, and then Halkett struck the crossbar with a drooping shot. Time was drawing near, and Aberdeen played very hard for the desired goal. Robertson was pulled up for off-side when favourably placed, and a combined run by the Aberdeen right wing was checked by Stewart kicking out. Wallace missed an easy chance of scoring for the Rovers after running right through the Aberdeen defence. There could be no question regarding the superiority of the Rovers' team towards the finish, and even although the Aberdeen did break away, they seldom looked like scoring. The forwards were too easily robbed of the ball near goal, and there was a marked absence of any real understanding between them. The Kirkcaldy team, as a whole, adapted themselves better to the heavy ground, and their forwards lay far up the field, waiting for the long passes from their backs and half-backs. In the closing stages Murray and McNicol played brilliantly for Aberdeen, and, along with Macfarlane, were the outstanding men on the Aberdeen side. Wallace was continually making openings for the Rovers' forwards, and twice at least Bell and Gray, on the left, ought to have scored. The Rovers were full value for their win, but it was a game in which the forwards on both sides were vastly inferior to either the backs or half-backs.
Source: Aberdeen Daily Journal, 9th January 1905