Defeat in Dumfries leaves Raith marooned in mid-table

Lewis Vaughan's superb goal was not enough to spare Rovers from defeat on Saturday. Pic: FPA
Lewis Vaughan's superb goal was not enough to spare Rovers from defeat on Saturday. Pic: FPA

Queen of the South 2 Raith Rovers 1

Raith Rovers boss Grant Murray admitted it would be “very difficult” to reach the playoffs after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Queen of the South.

Iain Russell put the Doonhamers ahead before Lewis Vaughan scored an outstanding equaliser and just before half time Queens struck again through Gavin Reilly in a fast and free flowing first 45 minutes.

Both sides settled into the game well but Rovers were having the lion’s share of possession and playing some neat football. In the middle of the park Ryan Conroy and Rory McKeown were linking up well.

However Queens had the first shot on target after eight minutes thanks to Mark Millar. The former Falkirk player’s shot was parried away by David McGurn for a corner.

It was from that set-piece the Doonhamers would take the lead in a straightforward fashion.

Millar’s corner floated into the box above everyone except for Iain Russell who was unmarked to tap home a volley from two yards out.

Queens almost went 2-0 up after Kevin Holt missed a free header at the near post, a chance which the Doonhamers would regret after 20 minutes.

The ball bounced around the Queens box and hit Christian Nade, on the hand according to some Queens players, before he popped the ball up to Lewis Vaughan. He unleashed a vicious shot which soared past Zander Clark’s and into the top right corner of the net.

However with seven minutes to go in the first period Queens struck again. Michael Paton fought down the left side of the pitch, having two attempts at a cross blocked. His third attempt popped up off of Craig Barr and looped in the air to find Reilly waiting to pounce. It was a similar distance from Russell’s goal and finished in the same emphatic style.

Rovers had a let-off in the second half when Liam Fox lost possession to Millar who waited and threaded a perfect through ball from the centre circle into the path of Reilly whose shot was saved by McGurn.

Tempers flared at around the hour mark as Martin Scott and Iain Russell clashed with the former picking up a yellow card. Less than 10 minutes later Scott escaped a second yellow after diving into a challenge with Millar as the referee waved play on. Rovers boss Grant Murray subbed Scott for Grant Anderson shortly after.

The second half became a more physical affair as hard tackles were flying in, tempers flared and chances became few and far between.

Derek Lyle came closest with 15 minutes left but his header was over the bar.

The result saw Raith lose to Queens for the third team this season which ended a rough week for the Kirkcaldy side following the midweek Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat in Inverness.

Grant Murray said: “I thought we started reasonably well especially after two heavy long journeys but I thought we came out quite fresh.

“But we switched off for a corner for the second time in five days and ultimately that’s cost us. But we got ourselves back in it with a good goal which Lewis has taken well. I thought we were playing reasonably well and the second half was an uphill battle.

“It’ll be very difficult to make the playoffs I must admit. You get that points gap that Queens have got now it then makes it very difficult but we’ve got a duty to win games of football.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up in midweek and we’ve got to look to pick up as many points as possible and finish the season strongly.”

Queen of the South: Z. Clark, L. Kidd, A, Dowie, K. Holt, D, Carmichael, I. McShane, M. Millar (Pickard, 91), S. McKenna, I. Russell (A. Smith, 85), M. Paton, G. Reilly (Lyle, 64). Not used: J. Atkinson, S. Hooper, C. Mitchell, D. Smith

Raith Rovers: D. McGurn, J. Thomson, P. Watson, L. Fox (M. Stewart, 79), M. Scott (G. Anderson, 69), R. Callachan, R. Conroy, L. Vaughan, R. McKeown, C. Nade, C. Barr. Not used: K. Cuthbert, D. Hill, K. Moon, L. McCroary, R. Matthews.

Referee: Kevin Graham

Attendance: 1656