Rovers couldn’t quite get themselves over the line and into the Play-Offs after Friday night’s 1-1 draw at home to Championship winners, Kilmarnock.
Aidan Connolly’s first half strike, coupled with Ayr United’s first half scoring streak had the terraces of Stark’s Park believing that the impossible could happen, but for Oli Shaw’s second half equaliser to bring everyone back down to earth and draw an end to a remarkable campaign for all.
Rovers came out the blocks fighting and raring to go and could’ve been ahead but for the heroics of Zach Hemming in the Killie net. Twice Matej Poplatnik and Dario Zanatta were played in behind Ash Taylor and into the left hand side of the box, with the Canadian firstly forcing a great stop from the Englishman who got down well to his right to palm the ball round the corner of his left hand post.
Poplatnik would be next to try his luck, doing well to be slipped in behind the Killie backline, cutting in onto his right foot, taking Taylor out of the game and he opted to try and reverse the ball into the bottom left corner but the Killie goalkeeper did well to read the situation and stick out a foot to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Rovers finally would go ahead on the cusp of the half hour mark, after yet another piece of Aidan Connolly magic. The Winger received the ball from Reghan Tumilty on the right wing, cutting in onto his left foot around 25-yards out and he opted to drop his shoulder, taking on the recovering Brad Lyons before opting to let rip from distance, curling firstly towards the far corner but for a wicked deflection off the face of Blair Alston, which decieved Hemming in order to fly into the middle of the goal and send the Rovers into a lead, reducing the goal deficit to 5 thanks to Ayr United’s 2-0 scoreline at the time.
Rovers hopes of a miracle were short lived though, as Killie talisman Oli Shaw levelled things up ten minutes after the restart with a great piece of play, inspired by Kyle Lafferty. Blair Alston picked the ball up in the middle of the Rovers half and played the ball into the feet of Lafferty who was stood on the edge of the box, who did well to hold off Frankie Musonda, returning the ball to his teammate who played a fantastic ball in behind Lafferty for Oli Shaw to spin off of the last man and run in one-on-one against Jamie MacDonald who had fantastically denied him minutes prior, but this time he got the better of his man, lifting the ball over the keeper and into the middle of the goal to restart the party in the away end and all but end the slim hopes of making the Play-Offs.
All the photos from the final game of the season against Killie at Stark’s Park.
Photographs © Tony Fimister & Jim Foy
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after our final game of the season against Kilmarnock FC:
Rovers prepare to step out in front of the Stark’s Park crowd for what could be the final time as we welcome Championship Winners, Kilmarnock to Kirkcaldy for the final League game of the season.
Rovers know that they are in need of some sort of miracle if they are to extend their season into May as they look to overturn an eight goal deficit on fourth place Partick Thistle, but stranger things have happened on the final day of the Championship.
The visitors come into the final day in high spirits after just managing to squeeze past the nation’s sweethearts in the form of Arbroath at Rugby Park last week to snatch the title from their Angus counterparts, a result that has seen them complete a run of four games unbeaten out of five thanks to Blair Alston’s late strike nearly a week ago.
Rovers come into the game in fine spirits themselves, looking to make it three victories on the bounce for the first time this season.
Consecutive away victories against Partick and Hamilton thanks to a Matej Poplatnik strike and a Ben Williamson double have seen John McGlynn’s side come into the tie with the faintest of hopes of making the Play-Offs.
Rovers have found varying amounts of success in the tie this season, having triumphed over the Champions twice at Rugby Park in the League as well as the SPFL Trust Trophy Semi-Final Triumph.
The boys will go into the game confident that they can get a fourth victory over Derek McInnes’ side.
Kilmarnock will go into the tie knowing that they have nothing to prove having lifted the League Title last time out but will be playing for pride as they look to try and get only their second win over the Rovers in four attempts.
But it would be typical of the season that Rovers have had that they do the unthinkable and write themselves into the history books as their quest to reach the Premiership continues.
We would like to remind supporters of both sides to arrive early due to Pratt St being closed on the night, this is due to the anticipated crowd and the vehicles needed for BBC Coverage.
South Stand Turnstiles A & B will have priority access for Season Ticket holders up until half an hour before kick-off.
Rovers Wins: 3 Draws:0 Killie Wins: 1
Raith Rovers: W-W-L-L-W
Raith Rovers: Matej Poplatnik 11, Dario Zanatta 9, Aidan Connolly 7,
Killie: Oli Shaw 13 Kyle Lafferty 6 Callum Hendry 4
Referee: Greg Aitken