Raith Defeated By Convincing Queens
Raith Rovers failed to build on last week’s victory over Cowdenbeath, after going down to a 2-0 defeat to Queen of the South at Palmerston Park.
Grant Murray made one change from the starting eleven that began last week’s 2-1 win, with a fit again Christian Nadé, taking the place of Martin Scott, who dropped to the bench.
Ominously from a Raith Rovers point of view, John Baird started up front for the hosts, with the former Stark’s Park favourite paired up-top with Gavin Reilly.
This game was presumably picked by BBC Alba as their featured Saturday evening match, because of the thrilling conclusion to the previous meeting between the clubs last month, and Queens start to this one, suggested they were extremely keen on providing further entertainment.
Raith were on the back foot right from the off, when Paul Watson was penalised by referee Stepehen Finnie for obstruction in the second minute. From the set-piece, Ian McShane rolled the ball into the area for Daniel Carmichael, but his shot was blocked on the line by Rory McKeown.
Before the ball could be cleared properly, McShane attempted to curl an effort inside the far post, but saw his effort tipped away by David McGurn.
Queen of the South had certainly started the match in the ascendency, with Carmichael looking sharp down the right-hand-side, while Iain Russell was keeping a close eye on Grant Anderson down the opposite flank.
Queens may have had the upper hand, but while they looked sprightly going forward, they weren’t creating too many clear-cut opportunities. In comparison, Raith’s slow build up play was allowing Queens to keep men behind the ball, and while the wide men of Anderson and Barrie McKay were a useful outlet, they were struggling to provide crosses into the area.
Raith’s first attempt at goal came in the 18th minute, when Nadé fed the ball to McKay, and while the on-loan winger was able to skip past one challenge, his shot from distance, failed to test Zander Clark.
A moment later, Rovers found themselves a goal down, after something of a defensive pallaver. Clark’s clearance downfield was misjudged by Paul Watson, allowing John Baird to head the ball off the Raith defender’s back, and into the forward’s path. As Baird ran towards goal, Ross Perry backed off, allowing Baird to look up, and send his shot into the corner of the net, beyond McGurn, from 20-yards out.
The goal failed to produce too much of a reaction from the Raith players, and they were almost two goals down ten minutes later. Watson was both reprimanded and booked for clattering into Baird, and from the resulting free-kick, Chris Higgins met the cross full-pelt on the volley from inside the area, but his effort crashed wide.
Barrie McKay had Raith’s only other real attempt at goal before half-time, in a period that had seen the home side break at speed between Raith’s lines, while Rovers worryingly struggled to create anything of note.
Although there were no changes during the interval, Grant Murray was forced into making one within moments of the restart, when Elliot hobbled off to be replaced by Mark Stewart.
Within seconds of his introduction, Rovers almost found themselves two down. A free-kick was swung in from Raith’s left-hand-side, and as the ball made its way through the six-yard-box, Mark Durnan somehow managed to toe-poke his effort over the bar from a few yards out.
The second half was proving to be similar to the first, with neither team producing a hat-full of chances, but the home side looking the most assured. Much like the last encounter however, with half-an-hour remaining, the game sparked into life.
Good work again from Carmichael, saw him race towards the bye-line and send in a cross, that Jason Thomson just managed to divert clear, under close scrutiny from Baird. From McShane’s corner, Durnan again had the opportunity to double Queen’s lead, but from close range once more, he mis-timed his header into the synthetic turf and over the bar.
James Fowler’s men almost had reason to rue that miss, as within a minute, Mark Stewart was presented with Rovers first real opportunity. McKay played a through ball past Durnan, allowing Stewart to make use of his pace, but with just Clark to beat, he possibly took the ball too far wide, and his shot smacked off the post and clear.
Raith were at last starting to make headway towards the Queens goal, with Stewart finding space on the left, and Anderson running at pace on the right. Frustratingly however, those ahead, and behind them, were generally static, and the Queens backline were having little problem marking their men, and preventing Raith from playing it through them.
While the home side’s resolute defending was keeping Raith’s attempts to the bare minimum, the same could not be said at the other end. Derek Lyle was brought on as a replacement for Baird with 20 minutes remaining, and just like at Stark’s Park, he almost scored immediately, but his free header was straight into McGurn’s arms.
Rovers were beginning to look bereft of ideas at this point, and with just under quarter-of-an-hour to go, they had McGurn to thank for keeping them in the match. Gavin Reilly was played through into the box, and his shot was palmed away by the goalkeeper, who got down low to his right. His second save was even better however, springing back up and spreading himself, to deny Iain Russell who was following in the rebound.
The save only delayed the clinching strike however, and when it arrived, it left McGurn fuming, and understandably so. Grant Anderson was left two-on-one as Derek Lyle took a throw in, and was helpless to stop Lyle receiving the ball back, and hitting the line. His low cross was good, but it produced no reaction from the Raith defenders, who could only look on, as Gavin Reilly waltzed between both centre-halves unimpeded, to send a shot from close range, in off the bar.
Grant Murray made two late changes, with Ryan Conroy and Martin Scott, replacing Liam Fox and Grant Anderson, but with ten minutes remaining, the game petered out, as Queens ran out the match convincing winners.
Highlights generously supplied by Malcolm Johnson of Qos TV
©Eddie Doig 2014