Raith Rovers head into another huge home fixture this Tuesday evening, with a match against fellow play-off chasers, Queen of the South, with both teams going into the match on the back of excellent wins

Ray McKinnon’s men saw off the challenge of St. Mirren on Saturday, emerging on top after a seven goal thriller, while Queen of the South defeated Hibernian by a goal to nil last time out.

Queens weekend off meant that Raith extended their lead over the Doonhamers to four points, although James Fowler’s men have now played a game less.

If the two previous encounters this term have been anything to go by, then this clash will be a close one, with Rovers claiming a narrow win and a hard-fought draw so far.

A late, Kyle Benedictus header was all that separated them at Stark’s Park in September, but the teams couldn’t be prised apart back in December, when a Robbie Thomson own-goal nudged Rovers ahead, but was pegged back early in the second-period by Iain Russell in a 1-1 draw. While games between the two are normally close, they rarely end in draws, with December’s the first match to finish all-square between the two since April 2010, a run of 17 matches.

Rovers will be looking to sustain their fine record against teams who sit below them in the table, with just two defeats in 17 so far, however, while goal-scoring hasn’t been a problem over the last few weekends, they may find it tough to replicate that against Queens, a team who have the Championship’s second best defensive record on the road this term, conceding just 11 goals in 11 games.

The recent head-to-head record is almost level, with Raith racking up five wins to Queens four from the last ten meetings.

Tuesday night’s match referee will be Nick Walsh.

Head-to-head League Record at Stark’s Park:

Raith Rovers Wins: 27 | Queen of the South Wins: 16 | Draws: 8

Raith Rovers Goals: 96 | Queen of the South Goals: 56


Current Form:

Raith Rovers: L-D-W-W-L-W

Queen of the South: W-L-W-L-L-W

Top Goal Scorers:

Raith Rovers: Mark Stewart 9 | James Craigen 5 | Ryan Hardie 4

Queen of the South: Derek Lyle 11 | Iain Russell 7


Match Odds:

Raith Rovers: 6/4

Queen of the South: 19/10

Draw: 23/10


Raith Move Clear With Dominant Win

Raith Rovers moved seven points clear in the play-off places, and perhaps just as importantly, made a statement of intent, with a dominant 2-0 win over fifth place Queen of the South.

Ray McKinnon made just one change from Saturday's team, James Craigen starting on the left-hand-side of midfield, with Harry Panayiotou dropping to the bench.

For Queen of the South, Rovers fans would probably have been relieved to see Derek Lyle and Iain Russell omitted from the starting eleven, although both were named amongst the substitutes. The Queens team did include one familiar face, with Ryan Conroy starting in midfield.

Like Saturday, Raith were quick out the blocks, although unlike the win over St. Mirren, the opening chance wasn't taken, with Aiden Connolly dragging a snap-shot from the edge of the box wide of the target.

Despite the bright opening, it wasn't a portent of things to come, with the early stages of the match punctuated by injuries and stoppages, rather than dashing football and chances.

Rory McKeown was the first to require the physio on after a clash of heads, then of more concern, Iain Davidson suffered the same injury, but appeared to be out-cold, and after lengthy treatment, had to make way. Craig Barr was his replacement in the middle of defence. Jason Thomson was then clattered in front of the dug-outs, although thankfully he recovered sufficiently to continue.

After the blood and thunder of the opening period, the game eventually started to cough up some chances, with Raith the main creators.

Mark Stewart was played in by Ryan Hardie, and although he reached the ball just before Robbie Thompson, his touch took the ball wide of the goalkeeper, but just too far ahead to reach before it ran out of play.

The forward wouldn't be denied for long though, as Raith opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, with a chance started and finished by Rovers top goal-scorer.

His ball from the left freed up Hardie on the right-hand-side of the penalty area, and although his chance was blocked, it fell kindly to Stewart who gratefully prodded it into the gaping net from close range.

A moment later, the roles were reversed, with Stewart playing in Hardie, but the youngster was forced slightly too far wide, and his chance was eventually crowded out.

Queens hadn't been seen much in terms of an attacking force, but they should have been level in the 38th minute.

Conroy's corner was swung in towards Cuthbert, and with the keeper struggling to claim, Andy Dowie touched it to back to Callum Tapping, but with plenty time and space, his side foot effort from just outside the box was shanked high over the bar.

If that miss left James Fowler frustrated, then his annoyance would have been exacerbated even further, when Rovers doubled their advantage soon after.

Aiden Connolly's quick feet and directness laid the ground work, feeding Hardie inside the area. His shot appeared to meet the hand of Chris Higgins, and the referee saw the same, pointing to the spot.

James Craigen confidently took the kick, placing it to Thompson's left, with the young keeper electing to dive the other way.

Unsurprisingly, considering how little Queen of the South had created in the first period, the second half started with Derek Lyle and Iain Russell introduced for Callum Tapping and Derek Brownlie.

Right away, their presence appeared to lift the away side, but while they were making inroads into the Raith half, the vast majority of their possession was being played out in front of the Rovers back-four, with little or nothing coming from wide areas, or balls played in behind.

This meant that when Queens attacks were fizzling out, Raith were looking fairly nifty on the break, with the pace of Stewart, Hardie and Connolly a constant cause for concern for Fowler's team.

One such chance occurred in the 50th minute, when Lewis Toshney broke up an attack in the middle of the park, before playing the ball to the Hardie, whose first time lay-off found Connolly in the wide area. He drifted inside before teeing up the onrushing Craigen, but from a good position, the midfielder appeared to be on his heels a little, as he lifted his shot over.

The pattern of the game now seemed set, with Queens seemingly at odds with how to make use of possession, and Raith hitting at pace. Rory McKeown was the next to spring forward, and his deep cross from the left found Stewart at the back post, but his first-time volley was deflected past for a corner.

Raith continued to look the likelier to score, with Connolly sliding a perfect pass through to Hardie, but while he composed himself just as he did at the weekend, his fierce drive was deflected wide by the Queens custodian.

With Rovers turning the screw, Hardie was denied again a few minutes later, when his shot from distance was beaten by the post with an unusual shovel type action from Thompson.

Ray McKinnon then made a flurry of substitutions, with Louis Longridge and Harry Panayiotou coming on for Connolly and Stewart, but the momentum stayed with the home side, with Callachan and Hardie again, both bringing good saves from Thompson.

The comfortable win puts Raith seven points clear of the Doonhamers, although the Dumfries side do have a game in hand. The next fixture in a hectic March is away to Alloa Athletic this Saturday.


Photographs © Tony Fimister 2016



RaithTV spoke with Ray after the 2-0 win against Queens

Live Updates

Welcome to Starks Park for a proverbial six-pointer!
Lovely mild still evening, should be conducive to good football
Nice stuff from Rovers down the right, but Connolly's shot went tamely wide
Callachan and Craigen scramble a Queens free-kick away on the edge of the box
McKeown down for treatment after a clash of heads with Hilson
McKeown is back on
Davidson now down after knocking heads with that man Hilson!
Davidson can't continue, so it's an early sub. Craig Barr is coming on.
Looks a nasty one, the physio and doctor are taking a while and a stretcher is on the way.
Stewart through on goal to chase a great Callachan through ball, Thomson closes him down and he can get round him
Stewart gets his head on a Connolly free kick, saved by Thomson
Pickard escapes with a word in his ear after a shocking late tackle on Thomson
Callachan on the end of a cross field move, he was a little too wide and his shot was blocked for a throw
Thomson with a heavy challenge on Marshall, ref Nick Walsh is in lenient mood and it's just a free kick again
Cuthbert has his first non pass back to deal with, gathering a weak Pickard header
1-0 Rovers! Stewart taps in after Hardie's shot was blocked on the line!
Good chance for Hardie, racing onto Stewart's flick, but his shot is blocked by the retreating defender
Tapping fires miles over as a corner is cleared to him
Two fouls by Pickard on Barr in a minute, not even a word in his ear on either occasion
Yellow card for Hutton, he flattened Connolly as he drove into the box from wide
Penalty to Raith! And a yellow card for Hilson for handball
2-0 Craigen sends Thomson the wrong way!
It was Hardie's shot blocked up high by Hilson
+5 Half time
A very comfortable 45 minutes from Raith. Cuthbert has been a virtual spectator, not too many chances at the other end either but Rovers are dominating the game.
Barr looking very solid beside Benedictus in defence, they've saved Cuthbert from getting his gloves dirty
Word at half time is that Davo is conscious but groggy
QoS sub: Russell on for Tapping
QoS sub: Lyle on for Brownlie
Craigen curls one over after good work from Toshney and Connolly
Driving run down the line by McKeown, Craigen tries a clever twist in the box but the ball runs away from him
Thomson does well to Marshall the ball back to Cuthbert with Russell breathing down his neck
Connolly booked for a trip on Russell
Thomson races out to block a cross, corner to QoS
Russell booked, he took one for the team body-checking Hardie who was breaking midway inside the Raith half
Rovers working really hard to keep the pressure on Queens, more even this half but Cuthbert still hasn't made a save
Final QoS sub: Oliver on for Hilson
Almost a third goal, Craigen broke forward, slotted it through to Hardie but Thomson did well to tip his shot round the post
An absolute piledriver by Hardie, parried wide by Thomson
Panayiotou on for Stewart
Callachan fires 35 yards over from 35 yards!
Longridge on for Connolly
Good run from Longridge he tees it up for Callachan but he scuffs it straight at Thomson
Longridge crosses to Panayiotou, he controls on his chest and the volley is blocked for a corner
From the corner Longridge and Hardie combine, Hardie twists past a defender but Thomson gathers his shot
Callachan named man of the match for a busy performance
Toshney fires just wide with the Queens defence stretched by the Raith front men
+2 Cuthbert's first save of the night, and it's a simple one, Oliver shot straight at him
+3 Kidd booked for a foul on McKeown
+4 Full time
Raith go 7 points clear in 4th place with a tremendously industrious performance. QoS not given a sniff at goal all evening.