Rovers Delay Trophy Triumph
The Rovers faced Partick who hoped to wrap up the league title. The Glasgow side having only dropped 3 points in 16 home matches had a large support as they hoped to seal the Championship.
Avoiding the influx of, erm, occasional Jags fans I was accompanied around the pitch to the old stand. Paul Smith was polite enough to talk to the full Raith support at the time, me. He indicated Grant Murray was ill and it turned out several players had been unwell – Grant revealed later on the radio that a couple vomited at half time before carrying on.
Ross Callachan, Eddie Malone and Joe Cardle all came in. Despite the best efforts of a very enthusiastic PA man the Rovers started the better side. In 26 seconds Graham was onto a defensive slip and scampered towards goal, shooting early he hit the side netting just outside the post with keeper Fox beaten. In the third minute Thomson ran forward before feeding Spence who’s shot was half blocked and the Rovers couldn’t get another shot in. In the sixth minute it was the Rovers threatening again with Fox alertly tipping over Thomson’s chip. Thistle looked second best despite a corner and wild effort from Forbes.
In the 12th minute it could have been 0:3 but Spence’s run from halfway ended with a good Fox block at the edge of the box. This was followed by a free kick from Walker and a Raith header hitting the foot of the front post and going wide from a corner. It was the home side, not the Rovers who were looking off colour.
In the 24th Forbes dwelt on the ball in the Raith box as the Rovers defence remained largely untroubled. The 27th minute saw Thistle have their first effort on target – McGurn pushed a shot wide – then Craigen hit a shot past. Erskine volleyed over and Forbes shot from a corner saw McGurn in the way.
Partick had their best chance when Doolan failed to hit the target after McGurn’s hand had helped a cross across goal. The Rovers had a good shout for a penalty when Cardle was bundled to the ground in the box after good play from Callachan. The half ended after McGurn blocked Erskine’s shot after a long ball forward.
Not aware of the illness in the Raith ranks the travelling fans were pleased with the play at the half, but upset they’d not seen two or three of the Rovers chances hit the net.
Thistle could only start the second half better and Erskine’s deflected shot went wide. Callachan sent in a dipping shot from 20 yards which went just over. Craigen skimmed the top of the net then Erskine flopped lamely to the ground having over hit the ball into the box.
In the 56th Callachan and Cardle ran into each other, both falling but showed how the game was going that it was Joe who was quickest to recover to get the ball! Ross Callachan had slotted into the middle and was putting in a great performance, passing well and working hard.
Hill replaced Ellis as Walker took on water. Craigen shot wide as the home team began to get on top. McGurn was quick to claim before an on-rushing Doolan. A good Rovers spell in the middle of the half didn’t see a chance created. Walker was replaced by Stuart Anderson then the lively sub Lawless saw a low past deflected wide with McGurn a spectator.
McGurn was again alert blocking from Lawless and O’Donnell in rapid succession. Cardle was replaced by Grant Anderson as the Rovers understandably tired. Spence did well to play in Graham who’s low drive lacked the pace to worry Fox.
In the 85th minute a ball back in from a Thistle corner was cleared as Rovers dug in. Wide man Anderson was penalising for apparently fouling one of two home men in the 91st minute but McGurn claimed the free kick effort easily.
Fox was chosen as Man of the Match and on another day he could have been beaten early on three times. The Rovers will rightly feel their performances against Thistle should have been better rewarded turning one of the three draws into a win but it show wasn’t to be.
This was a great performance against the Champions elect, and in light of the tummy bug in the Raith camp perhaps the Rovers shouldn’t be described as party poopers. But they were.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig
Photographs copyright Eddie Doig, edited by Tony Fimister