Rovers recent failures to defend high balls into the box was highlighted once again with only 2 minutes on the clock when Oakley played the ball out wide to Miller who sent over a cross which was met by the head of King who rose unchallenged to head past Jamie MacDonald for what was almost a carbon copy of Arbroath’s equaliser at Stark’s Park last week.
Following the initial shock of going a goal down Rovers got into their stride and were the better of the two teams but their best chance of the first half was a cross from the right by Aidan Connolly which was met at the back post by Vaughan but his header went past the post.
The second half went much the same as the first and Rovers still looked the more likely to score and were unlucky not to get back on level terms when Lewis Vaughan blasted a thunderbolt off the underside of the bar with Schwake beaten, and minutes later, Ross Millen played the ball down the right to Akio who hit the ball low and hard across the box, and although Schwake in the home goal spilled the initial save, he managed to collect it at the second attempt.
Vaughan had another half chance with a volley from outside the box which went just over and Ethan Ross tried a lob from almost the same spot but again it was just wide.
Rovers were reduced to ten men when Tom Lang, who was already on a yellow for allegedly handling the ball despite it happening only six feet from the assistant referee who showed no reaction, received a second yellow card followed by a red for a nothing challenge on Crawford, and Rovers were further reduced to 9 men when Lang was followed to an early bath by Lewis Vaughan, who had been booked for a challenge in the first half which was no worse than a challenge by Baird which went unpunished minutes earlier, received a second yellow for alleged dissent.
It was never a dirty game by any means but the referee Dan McFarlane, taking charge of his first match in the championship, somehow managed to issue 7 yellows and 2 reds, and one has to question the wisdom of the powers that be for appointing ‘rookie’ referees at the business end of the season when the stakes are so high, not only for teams looking to secure play off places at either end of the table, but players who are playing for new contracts and their livliehoods.
Subs: Green, Blues, Ambrose, Garrity, Gillespie, Crawford
Raith Rovers: MacDonald, Dick, Millen, Connolly, Vaughan, Lang, Ngwenya, Akio, Brown (c), Ross, McGill
Subs: Thomson, McBride, Young, Masson
© Eddie Doig
Ian Murray spoke to RaithTV after today’s game:
Raith Rovers head to Greenock this weekend, and while the home side still have faint hopes of finishing in the top four positions, the visitors only have pride to play for.
Raith’s draw with Arbroath last weekend ended a sequence of three straight defeats, while Morton were also recording their own draw against Dundee, although after seeing a 3-1 lead eventually slip to a 3-3 draw, it very much felt like a loss for Dougie Imrie and his side.
Like Rovers, wins have been hard to find for Morton in recent weeks, with just one win in eight games putting to bed any chance of a title push, and making the chance of reaching the end of season playoffs looking less and less likely.
This will be the teams fifth meeting this term, with the previous meetings suggesting this could be a close affair.
Rovers come out on top in August, with goals from Liam Dick and Aidan Connolly securing a 2-1 win, but it was a different story in October, when an injury time penalty from Grant Gillespie was enough for Morton to grab a 1-0 win.
A penalty shoot out win in December following a 1-1 draw eased Rovers into the Challenge Cup semi finals, and it was another draw at Stark’s Park just before Christmas, with Rovers squandering a two goal lead to draw two each.
Saturday’s match referee will be Dan McFarlane
Morton wins: 66
Raith Rovers wins: 57