Raith Made To Pay For Lack of Cutting Edge

Raith Rovers poor form continued today, after an insipid display at Palmerston Park, saw them lose to their hosts Queen of the South, by a single goal.

Manager Grant Murray made just one change from last weeks 0-0 draw with Morton at Cappielow, with captain Jason Thomson returning at right-back, meaning Fraser Mullen dropped to the bench. Also replicated from last weeks scoreless draw was the formation, which featured Calum Elliot as the lone front man.

The game started slowly, although the away side created the better of the early openings. Thomson seemed keen to get forward, and a gallivanting run to the edge of the Queens box, should have seen him get on the end of Elliot's cut-back, but the Raith skipper couldn't adjust himself properly, and the chance was lost.

Liam Fox was the first player to chance his luck, but after eventually controlling the ball, his half-volley disappeared into the home fans behind the goal.

Laidlaw and Donaldson mop up at the back

Despite the numerical advantage in midfield, Raith were seeing far less of the ball than their hosts during the opening period, and the Queens strike tandem of Derek Lyle and Gavin Reilly were both looking lively. Michael Paton was also proving to be a distraction, due to his positioning between the Raith back four and midfield. At times, no-one in the Raith team seemed entirely sure who should be responsible for picking up the midfielder, who was just starting to make things tick for the Doonhamers.

Despite this, it was Raith who should have went in front after 15 minutes. Liam Fox picked out Joe Cardle on the left-hand side, and he teed up Callum Booth, but his shot found the wrong side of the side netting.

Raith almost had cause to rue that miss a minute later. Michael Paton hit his 25-yard free kick on target, but the attempt lacked pace, and as such, Laidlaw's palmed save, back into the 6-yard box took his defenders by surprise. They could only look on, as Iain Russell latched onto the loose ball, but he somehow contrived to miss the target from 6 yards out.

The relief was only temporary however, as the Dumfries side moved ahead on the 23rd minute, after the best move of the game. Chris Mitchell's cross found Derek Lyle, who feathered the ball into Ian McShane's path, who coolly slotted past Laidlaw.

Raith were then dealt a further blow, when Kevin Moon was forced off with an injury. His replacement was Greig Spence, who went up front, alongside Elliot.

Parity was almost restored just after the half-hour mark, after Joe Cardle cut inside, and threaded it to Ross Callachan. The youngster crashed a 30-yard effort at goal, but the ball came off the inside of the post, and ricocheted clear. Callachan then had another attempt drift just over, as Rovers started to enjoy their best spell of the match.

Callachan's shot rebounds off the post.

The last notable attempt of the half came in the 38th minute, and it should have brought Rovers level. Cardle set Grant Anderson through on the right, but as he held off the defender, goalkeeper Zander Clark narrowed the angle, and diverted the wingers effort clear, with his foot.

The Raith players probably felt aggrieved at going in at half-time a goal down, but a combination of bad luck, and bad finishing had contributed to the one goal deficit.

If anything, the second period started even slower than the first, and despite the scoreline, there seemed a real lack of urgency amongst the Raith players, while Queens seemed content to sit in and soak up any pressure that Raith could exert. More often than not however, that pressure came from long balls from Dougie Hill, which was proving meat and drink for the Queens defence.

The first incident came 10 minutes after the restart, when Fox was booked for clattering into Iain Russell. With the free-kick half cleared, Stephen McKenna's side foot half-volley from 30-yards went just wide, although Laidlaw looked to have it covered.

Booth takes on Michael Paton

With 25 minutes remaining, Cardle fed the ball to Booth who had overlapped the left-winger, but his cross was plucked out the air by Clark. It was the first time that the two left-sided players had combined to that effect during the game, something which is in stark contrast to the beginning of the season, when the combination was one of Raith's most effective threats.

While Raith had dominated possession in the second half, theyd failed to fashion a chance from it, and they almost went further behind after 66 minutes. Gavin Reilly ran at the defence, and with players backing off, he had time to find Russell in the box, but for the second time that day, he spurned his opportunity by missing the target.

It took until the 73rd minute for Rovers to create their first chance of the half, and it was one they should have taken. Some good work by Elliot down the right-hand side, allowed him to pick out Cardle, but the ex-Airdrieonians player sent his drive past the post from the edge of the box.

A minute later, Lewis Vaughan replaced Liam Fox, and he was immediately involved in creating a chance for Elliot. Despite the ball coming to him inside the 6-yard box, the forward didn't seem to catch his shot properly, and Mitchell was on-hand to clear the danger.

Dougie Hill jostles with Derek Lyle

Disappointingly, despite there being 15 minutes remaining, that would be Raith's final attempt on goal. Gordon Smith replaced Joe Cardle for the last few moments, and Dougie Hill ventured forward to try to snatch an equaliser, but it never looked like it would materialise. In fact, Queens almost snatched a goal on the breakaway during the dying seconds, but Russell was unceremoniously stopped by Reece Donaldson, who received a deserved caution. Russell's incandescence at being fouled eventually led to a bit of a melee in the middle of the park.

It was the final incident in a poor game, and the result sees Raith slip out of the play-off places, and into fifth. With no goals in the last four games, and only two wins from 10 league matches, manager Grant Murray will be looking for his players to arrest the steep decline in form next week, when managerless Alloa visit Stark's Park.

Words: Shaughan McGuigan Pictures: Eddie Doig


Copyright Eddie Doig


Match highlights generously supplied by Malcolm Johnson of Qos TV

Live Updates

Welcome to a cold but dry Palmerston Park where Raith are looking to do the treble over their hosts.
This could be annoying, someone in the home support has a rattle and a vuvuzela.
Rovers kick off to our left in the main stand.
Elliot releases Booth into the box but is denied by McKenna.
Elliot lays it on for Thomson but he Has a fresh air shot from the edge of the area.
Reilly goes on a solo run which ended courtesy of Moon.
Fox finds himself far up the park and decides to shoot........ into the roof of the stand.
Paton was ready to pull the trigger from the edge of the box until Donaldson made an excellent block.
Home shouts for a penalty as they thought that Reilly was held in the area.
McKenna has Queen's first shot at goal which drifted past Laidlaw's left stick.
Fox from the middle of the park lays the ball to Elliot then onto Booth who fires the ball into the side net.
Paton fires in a free kick from 28 yards, Laidlaw could only palm it in the path of Russell who fires wide of the right post.
Russell intercepts a Booth pass and releases Paton only to see him sky his shot over the bar.
Moon goes off with a knock to his leg.
Moon returns to the field.
Laidlaw comfortably collects a speculative lob from McShane.
Goal Queens.
McShane nips into the 6 yard box and right foots the ball past the diving Laidlaw.
Moon off, Spence on.
To be fair to Queens, they have had the most of the posession and have earned the lead.
Durnan yellow for upending Elliot.
Good work in winning a loose ball by Cardle, he passes to Callachan who rattles the right hand post from 30 yards.
Callachan again, a 30 yarder from the middle goes a yard over the bar.
Booth released by Cardle shoots at the keeper, Spence is bundled off the ball trying to get the rebound.
Thanfully the vuvuzela has remained quiet.
Rovers are pressing, just lacking the final touch.
Paton onto Reilly who shoots low to the right of goal, Laidlaw comfortably saves.
+1 Anderson misses a header from a corner, referee Dallas calls half time.
Lyle down after clash of heads
Donaldson gives away a free and earns a lecture. Easy catch for Laidlaw
Thomson hurt no free Russell runs at the goal but excellent tackle from Donaldson for a corner. Thomson receiving medical attention
Laidlaw claims the corner with Durnan lurking behind
Thomson back on seems ok
Cardle crosses headed away by Holt
Yellow Fox
Paton free headed away by Hill and volleyed not too far away by McKenna
No chances in this half yet
Hill and Reilly do a bit of WWE corner Queens and nothing comes of it
Booth does well to get a cross in and Clark leaps to catch the ball with Spence threatening
Reilly runs with the ball and tees up Russell who shoots across goal. Good chance there
Donaldson displays his newly found confidence to draw Russell into a foul
Yellow Anderson. A free just outside the box on the left. Paton takes and after a bit of a melee Russell blasts over
Elliot has a chance to shoot, delays and his eventual shot is blocked
McShane the goalscorer off. Dzierzawski on
Spence and Elliot free up a bit of space for Cardle and his left foot shot is not too far away
Vaughan on for Fox
Anderson ball to Vaughan who slides the ball into Elliot. The shot cannons off the chest of Mitchell and its cleared
Ball rebounds off the ref and McKenna howitzer past Laidlaw's righthand post
Corner Rovers. Cardle low cross doesnt get beyond the nearest defender
Rovers have upped the tempo since Vaughan came on
Cardle cross headed out for a throw in.
QoS hoofing the ball clear at every opportunity
Anderson low cross out for a throw in
Lyle off Carmichael on
Route one football now with Hill up front. Anderson cross goes out of play
Cardle off Smith on
QoS two corners in succession. Laidlaw hoofs the ball out headed onto Elliot but Clark out in a flash to grab the ball
+1 laidlaw free on halfway line.
+2 Yellow Donaldson for an agricultural hoick at Russell who reacts furiously. Ref restores order
+4 All ovet now. Not a classic and one goal enough to win it for the home team