Raith Rovers 2 Queen’s Park 0
Good news has been in short supply for those who follow the Spiders in recent weeks. So, despite a disappointing defeat in Fife, let’s try to pick some positives from the chilly trip to the Kingdom.
The good news is that for around 85 of the 90 minutes at Starks Park we more than held our own against our title-challenging opponents. In addition to that, we saw signs of real hope for the future in the determined defensive display of young Lewis McGhee and others. And, as always, the entire team fought from first whistle to last and never stopped trying to get something from the game.
Now for the not so good news. Obviously, the result was a downer, while we also failed to get a meaningful effort on target during the entire afternoon … and we’ve now scored just nine goals in our 14 league outings to date.
It would be fair to say that those who made the journey from Hampden to Kirkcaldy travelled more in hope than expectation, and the Gaffer sprang a few surprises with his line-up, which saw Michael White in goals; a back four of Sean Burns, Lewis Magee, Adam Cummins and Ciaran Summers. Gregor Fotheringham and Conor McVey anchored the midfield, while David Galt, Robbie Leitch and Chris Duff were tasked with supporting James MacLennan. The subs bench was occupied by Luke Donnelly, Dominic Docherty, Anton Brady, Jack Iredale, Willie Mortimer, Luke Whelan and Willie Muir.
Conditions were fine for the kick-off, although the monsoon during the week had left the surface slippy on top (and we realised winter was upon us when our illustrious kit man ditched the shorts for the full club trackie).
If we feared being swept away by our opponents after the Hampden drubbing they dished out to us on our last meeting, the early stages did much to ease those concerns. Queen’s tried to take the game to Raith and Burns got an early sighter following a good break down the right which earned us a free kick. The effort was never going to trouble Smith in the home goal, but at least it gave the visiting fans the opportunity to warm their hands with applause.
Another foul moments later gave Burns the opportunity to whip in an inviting cross which didn’t elude MacLennan by much. We didn’t know it then, but those moments would come to sum up the afternoon for the Spiders … close, but no cigar.
Galt, on his 100th QP outing, had been prominent going forward in the opening minutes, but showed good determination to get back at Spence as Raith began to flex their attacking muscles. Two corners around the 15-minute mark caused alarm in the QP box, but the danger passed when White came to claim the second cross.
The home side were trying to turn the screw and White had to save well from a McKay header before Vaughan spurned the game’s first clear chance by sclaffing his shot after we’d been exposed by a flowing Raith move.
Queen’s dug in again after those scares, but the game became very scrappy for the rest of the first half, with few moments to get the fans on their feet.
The best moment for the Spiders came from another Galt break which ended agonisingly with the ball being scrambled clear after MacLennan just couldn’t get it to come down for a clean strike.
At the other end, White had little to worry about, although Vaughan should have done better with a free-kick from just outside the box that sailed over the top.
It might not have been the prettiest, but there were no complaints in the ranks of the visiting support as referee Roncone brought the first period to a close.
Half time: Raith Rovers 0 Queen’s Park 0
Neither side made any changes at the break, but as might have been expected, it was the home side who came of the traps quicker. Robertson earned a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions. The first was cleared with some ease, but the second sparked pin-ball in the box and Vaughan was once more given the chance to punish us – but failed to hit the target.
The tackles were going in at this point, with neither side holding back. Ten minutes in, Fotheringham produced a cruncher, which to these admittedly biased eyes looked perfectly fair. Unfortunately, Roncone disagreed and showed the midfielder a yellow card.
Both sides made their first change around the hour – former Spider loanee Dario Zanatta coming on for Herron, while Mortimer replaced MacLennan. Young James had certainly earned the generous applause he received after covering almost every blade of grass in his efforts to get Queen’s on the front foot.
However, it was the home sub who made all the difference. With 65 minutes on the clock, Zanatta was on the end of a lightning break by the home side to turn his man and slot home from a tight angle.
Two minutes later, Zanatta was again heavily involved as Raith made it 2-0. This time the sub supplied the ammunition for Spence to head home from almost on the goal line.
Dario might have been the hero in the eyes of the home fans, but was far from so popular with the visitors as he went down rather easily in the build up to the goal and again minutes later as he looked for a penalty. Funny how quickly things change, isn’t it. Last season we would have been screaming for a penalty had Dario gone down in the box. This time the screams suggested he should have been in the book for diving.
Having suffered two hammer blows so quickly, lesser teams might have buckled. The Spiders ain’t at their best just now, but their attitude can’t be questioned as they firstly fought to get back on an even keel … and then looked for a way back into the game.
Gus brought on Brady and Donnelly for Fotheringham and Duff as Queen’s carved out a couple of promising moments, which sadly came to nothing.
Perhaps the day was summed up by a delicious piece of skill from Galt that saw him bursting into the left hand side of the Raith box. His cut-back, however, only found the feet of Murray who was happy to hammer it to safety.
At the other end, Queen’s were vulnerable to the quick Raith counters and one such break after 82 minutes saw White somehow claw away a point-blank effort from Spence to keep the deficit at two.
Neither side could trouble the scorers in the minutes that remained and the final whistle signalled another defeat on the road for the Spiders.
Call your scribe a daft optimist if you wish, but Gulliver genuinely saw grounds for hope in the display. Yes, we’ve got to find a way to score goals or we’ll never win games, but the attitude is right; the work rate is excellent … and some of the build-up was pleasant on the eye. Add to that the promise and maturity shown by some of the youngsters being given their chance by Gus and it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
Having started this reported on a positive note, it’s fitting to try to end it in the same vein. The Supporters Association have produced this wee video to promote the shop. It’s cheesy, but hopefully it will leave you with a wee smile on your face … and maybe even persuade you to plough a few bob into the club coffers by visiting the site. Keep the Faith!