Below par Raith snatch victory in last minute

Ross Callachan flies into a challenge with Queens Stephen Dobbie. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Ross Callachan flies into a challenge with Queens Stephen Dobbie. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 1 Queen of the South 0

Raith Rovers had to wait until the 90th minute for their first shot on target, but it was enough to snatch an undeserved victory over Queen of the South in this evening's late kick-off at Stark's Park.

A poor game that would have had Alba viewers reaching for the remote was heading for a goalless draw when Mark Stewart got on the end of substitute Rudi Skacel's cross to steal the three points for the Kirkcaldy men.

After their impressive counter-attacking display at Falkirk the previous week, this was hard to watch at times as the hosts struggled with the basics and were unable to produce any quality whatsoever on a night where almost every forward pass found an opponent.

Fortunately for them, a Queens side without a goal in five league games were unable to take advantage, although the visitors had every right to feel aggrieved with the result as they were by far the better of two poor sides on the night.

Rovers boss Gary Locke said: "I'm not going to spend too much time analysing that game because we're a far better team than we showed tonight..

"The important thing is to win games and I'm delighted but we won't get away with that every week."

Raith did have some good individual performances, particularly in defence where they remained resolute to stay in the game, with Kevin McHattie responsible for several crucial blocks and clearances.

Goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert played his part too with crucial saves, while Chris Johnston, making his first league start for the club after an injury-hit start to his Raith career, was the most creative player on show with several penetrating runs.

Collectively, though, Raith were miles off it.

The teams came out to Thriller, although the game was anything but.

There was an early chance for Queens and Stephen Dobbie should have scored as the ball bounced into his path 12 yards out but he shot straight at Cuthbert who showed good reflexes to claw the ball to safety with one hand.

Queens were sharper to the second balls but the game was descending into a game of head tennis as both sets of players lacked the composure to get the ball down and pick a pass.

The first real sign of life up front for Raith came on 31 minutes as Johnston jinked his way through the Doonhamers defence and his low cross was scrambled clear.

There were loud appeals for a penalty from Queens players two minutes later as ex-Rover Grant Anderson got goal-side of McHattie in the box, who took a risk by nudging him off the ball, but fortunately for the left back, referee Crawford Allan felt the winger went down too easily.

A brilliant short corner routine from the away side almost produced the opener when a low ball was fizzed into the box, and fell to Steven Rigg six yards out, but Cuthbert dived bravely at the feet of the striker to make a superb point-blank block.

There was little improvement in the quality of football after the break but Queens remained the more dominant side with Dobbie heading straight at Cuthbert from the middle of the box, before Chris Higgins sent a looping header just over the bar from a set piece.

On the hour, brilliant skill from McHattie saw him bamboozle the defender on his way to the by-line but his cut back somehow missed three inrushing Rovers players.

Queens were presented with a chance to take the lead with nine minutes left when Jean-Yves M'voto lunged into a challenge on Lyndon Dykes on the edge of the box, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position and earning a yellow card.

Dobbie's powerful strike was heading for the bottom corner until Cuthbert got down to brilliantly push the free-kick past the post.

His opposite number Lee Robinson had only used his gloves once to push a deep cross over his bar in the first half.

However, his second act would be collecting the ball from the back of his net as Raith landed a devastating sucker punch in the last minute.

Rudi Skacel was brought off the bench with two minutes left, and his first involvement saw him cut inside from the right and send a teasing cross into the heart of the Queens box.

Stewart, who barely had a kick all night, managed to escape his markers for the first time, sliding in to guide the ball into the far corner of the net.

To dig out an ugly win while playing so poorly is commendable, but most weeks, Raith will not get away with such a below par performance in this division.

The victory took Raith above Queens into third place in the Championship ahead of next week's big Fife derby at East End Park.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Davidson, McHattie, M'voto, Benedictus, Callachan, Thompson (Skacel 89), Johnston (Roberts 74), Matthews, McManus (Vaughan 65), Stewart. Not used: Lennox, Brennan, Coustrain, Smith.

Booked: McManus, M'voto.

Queen of the South: Robinson, Marshall, Dowie, Brownlie, Higgins, Anderson (Brotherston 61), Dobbie, Rigg, Jacobs, Pickard (Millar 68), Dykes. Not used: Atkinson, Moxon, Bell, Nelson, Fergusson.

Booked: Jacobs

Referee: Crawford Allan

Attendance: 1244