Back to square one as Raith concede four at home - again

Joe Cardle shows his disappointment. Raith Rovers v Livingston. Pic: Walter Neilson
Joe Cardle shows his disappointment. Raith Rovers v Livingston. Pic: Walter Neilson
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Raith Rovers 2 Livingston 4

After giving such a good account of themselves against the league leaders in midweek, Raith Rovers tumbled back to square one on Saturday with a dreadful defensive display against Livingston.

Rovers created plenty chances - they had 20 goal attempts - but the problems were once again at the back, with the defence posted missing for four Livingston goals.

It was Rovers’ third 4-2 home defeat in five weeks, and incredibly, the 13th consecutive league game where they failed to score first.

They simply aren’t giving themselves a chance to win games.

Rovers got off to a bad start, something we are becoming accustomed to at Stark’s Park, as they conceded a fourth minute opener.

A free-kick was played to the back post where Craig Sives out-jumped a rather flat-footed Dougie Hill to send a header past Lee Robinson. The ball was going in, but striker Danny Mullen, unmarked, raced in to make sure.

Once again, Rovers had given themselves an uphill battle, and they struggled to get any grip on the game throughout a fairly torrid opening 20 minutes.

However, Kevin Moon got the home side going in the 26th minute with a well struck 20-yard effort that Darren Jamieson pushed past the post.

That sparked a good period of pressure before half-time, but it took Rovers until two minutes into the second half to force the breakthrough.

It was Livingston’s turn to defend poorly as the unmarked John Baird headed home Grant Anderson’s cross from six yards.

The game had swung firmly in Rovers favour, but they shot themselves in the foot, not once but three times, in a crazy five minute spell that saw them concede two goals, and miss a penalty.

Just three minutes after equalising, Raith were caught short-numbered at the back and Joe Cardle, the left winger, somehow found himself defending the right back position. He looked like a fish out of water as he stumbled into the back of Marc McNulty to concede a penalty. The fouled Livi striker took the spot kick himself, and buried it.

Rovers barely had time to recover from that setback before the visitors made it 3-1 thanks to some shambolic marking at a corner kick.

Neither McNulty, who headed the ball down, nor Sives, who swept it home from six yards, had anyone near them.

Rovers were given a chance to get back into the game almost immediately as Cardle went down in the area under Keaghan Jacobs challenge. Spence stepped up to the penalty spot, but Jamieson read his effort to make a superb diving save.

Rovers had chances to take something out of the game but it took them until the 86th minute to get it back to 3-2 as Jason Thomson swept a right-foot shot inside the far post.

Rovers almost grabbed a point in injury time when Baird cracked the crossbar from 20 yards with a brilliant right-foot effort.

However, there was still time for Raith to gift the visitors one more goal as Reece Donaldson stopped, expecting a foul to be given against Mark Burchill, who played on and cut the ball back for McNulty to score a simple tap-in.

Manager Grant Murray was clearly unhappy with his team’s defending as he faced the media afterwards.

“You can’t expect to win games giving away goals like that,” he said. “We’d have to score five to win, and you can’t rely on that.

“The boys are all playing for places in the Ramsdens Cup final, but at the moment we’re not getting consistency from them.”

Raith Rovers: Robinson, Thomson, Booth, Donaldson, Hill, Fox, Anderson (Vaughan 65), Moon (Callachan 45), Spence (Elliot 65), Baird, Cardle. Not used: Smith, Ellis, Mullen, Laidlaw.

Livingston: Jamieson, Denholm (Scott 77), Fordyce, Keaghan Jacobs (Praprotnik 86) Kyle Jacobs, Mampuya, McNulty, Mullen (Burchill 71), Mevelja 6, O’Brien 6, Sives 8. Not used: Lander, Rutherford, Wilkie, Walker.

Referee: Mat Northcroft

Attendance: 1329