Draw not enough for Raith as winless run stretches to nine

Ross Callachan taken down by ex-Rover Stephen Simmons - Raith Rovers v Alloa Athletic. Pic: Neil Doig.
Ross Callachan taken down by ex-Rover Stephen Simmons - Raith Rovers v Alloa Athletic. Pic: Neil Doig.

Raith Rovers 1 Alloa 1

On a night when they badly needed three points to reignite their season, Raith could only muster a draw against a defence-minded Alloa side.

It was a frustrating night for the paltry crowd of just 978 to endure as Rovers had to come from behind to rescue a point from a match they dominated from start to finish.

It was a backs-to-the-wall performance from the visitors, who left Stark’s Park with the result they came for, but for Raith a draw just isn’t good enough, especially since it’s now nine games without a league win - a quarter of the season.

The players ran themselves into the ground in pursuit of victory and, in the second half especially, played at a tempo that Alloa couldn’t match.

But too many promising moves broke down due to the wrong pass, or a poor touch, and when Rovers did play themselves into dangerous positions, the Alloa defence had the answers.

The positive spin is that Rovers are now unbeaten in two, some confidence is creeping back, and with three home games coming up there is an opportunity to march up the table, and into a Scottish Cup semi-final.

But until the players actually go out and deliver that elusive victory, it’s all ifs, buts and maybes.

Grant Murray made one change from the team that earned a more respectable point in Dumbarton, replacing Donaldson with Hill in the centre of defence.

Rovers bossed the first 20 minutes - the game was being played in the Alloa half - then came the sucker punch.

Robinson attempted an ambitious short kick-out to Anderson, which was easily intercepted, and with the Raith defence off guard, the ball was fed to Ferns 20 yards out and he thumped it past the ‘keeper.

Alloa had barely been in Rovers half, yet they had been handed the opener on a plate.

That setback seemed to deflate Rovers spirit and for the remainder of the half they struggled to re-assert their authority, and when the half-time whistle sounded, it was the cue for the boo boys to give the players an earful.

With defeat unthinkable, Murray was facing one of the biggest half-times of his managerial career, and he would have been relieved with the response.

Rovers came out all guns blazing and captain Jason Thomson set the tempo for the second half with a surging run past four defenders before his cut-back found no takers.

The equaliser was not far away however as from a 53rd minute Cardle corner, Hill rose superbly at the back post to send a looping header back across goal and beyond the reach of ‘keeper Bain.

Waves of Rovers attacks followed, but Alloa withstood some heavy pressure.

Fit-again Elliot replaced Smith, and the sub came closest to finding the net with a goal-bound shot that was blocked by a defender near the line.

As time ran out so did Rovers hopes of a winner - the frustration summed up by Hill trying his luck from fully 40 yards. It was a good hit, but Bain was equal to it.

The result, however, was not the only disappointment. The turn-out was around 400 less than attended a Fife Flyers match taking place at the same time at the other end of town – ice hockey 1, football 0.

Raith Rovers: Robinson, Thomson, Booth, Ellis, Hill, Moon, Anderson, Callachan, Baird, Smith (Elliot 67), Cardle. Not used: Fox, Spence, Donaldson, Mullen, Vaughan, Laidlaw.

Alloa Athletic: Bain, Doyle, Meggatt, Simmons, Gordon, Lindsay, Tiffoney (Caddis 65), McCord, Ferns (Kirk 75), Cawley, Holmes. Not used: Young, Caldwell, Flannigan, Riordan, McDowall.

Attendance: 978

Referee: Alan Muir