Raith Rovers 0 Dumbarton 0
There was immense frustration for Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park yesterday as they failed to hit the net for the fourth game running in the goalless draw with Dumbarton.
There was no lack of effort from the players in the pursuit of the elusive goal but for all their hard work and dominance of possession there was no penetration up front.
Rovers did have chances, with new signing Aidan Connolly impressing, but for long spells they were trying to knock down a brick wall without a sledgehammer - or in other words, a goalscorer.
Mark Stewart - the only recognised first team striker in the squad - returned from illness to lead the attack but the sporadic scorer could not add to his six goals so far this season.
With just one win in their last 10 league matches, Raith are now clinging onto fourth place on goal difference ahead of the visit of fifth-placed Queen of the South next week.
To maintain their interest in the promotion play-offs Raith either need to sign a proven striker this month, or find a way to share goals throughout the team as they were earlier in the season.
The game was preceeded by a minute’s applause for Dumbarton CEO Gilbert Lawrie who passed away suddenly during the week.
Raith lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Stewart up top, Connelly, Craigen and Longridge in behind, with Callachan and Robertson in front of the back four but the system and personell struggled to break down a defensively determined Dumbarton side.
It took Connelly just 12 minutes to show his class as he beat two men out wide with quick feet, before Longridge crossed for Craigen but saw his effort blocked on the six-yard line.
Raith came close to an opener on 19 minutes as McKeown burst into the box to square for Stewart whose sharp effort on the turn was stopped by the outstretched leg of Jamie Ewings.
Craigen then curled a superb effort towards the top corner from 20 yards, missing by just a few inches.
Dumbarton had set up to defend and hit on the break and their first effort on goal on 21 minutes saw Grant Gallagher find space at the edge of the box but he drove across goal and well wide.
The visitors came closer on 25 minutes as Frazer Wright headed Tom Walsh’s corner towards the back post and Callachan was forced to head off the line.
The rest of the half was a tale of frustration for Raith as they continued to pass and probe without hurting the Dumbarton defence.
Raith’s best chance of the match arrived 10 minutes into the second half when Connolly harried Wright into a slip that allowed the debutant to break into the box unchallenged.
His cut back was missed by Stewart but fell for Longridge on the penalty spot, who managed to get his shot away despite a poor first touch, only for Wright to recover to make an amazing goal-line clearance.
The ball fell back to Longridge but again he couldn’t get the ball past Wright on the line - great defending, but a chance that should have been buried.
Another chance fell to Longridge who fired into the side-net when goalkeeper Ewings failed to get distance on a punch, while Callachan let fly with a 30-yard free-kick thunderblot that Ewings tipped over the bar.
Craigen was replaced by Anderson and Megginson replaced a tiring Connolly but for all their attacking intent, Raith simply did not look like scoring and fears grew of a repeat of the Alloa match.
With four minutes left, Megginson’s cut-back was met by Anderson but again the finish lacked real conviction and Ewings was able to block with his legs.
Rovers claimed a last-minute penalty when Stewart out-muscled Wright to go clean through, only to be hauled down before he could get his shot away.
It was a definite penalty kick, which might have got Rovers out of jail, but referee Stephen Finnie somehow failed to spot the contact.
Raith will hope that taking just one point from two home games against the league’s part-time teams will not prove telling come May.
Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Bates, Davidson, Benedictus, McKeown, Longridge, Callachan, Robertson, Craigen (Anderson 65), Stewart, Connolly (Megginson 78), Subs not used: Petrie, McCord, Matthews, Court, Law.
Dumbarton: Ewings, Saunders, Buchanan, Wright, Docherty, Lindsay, Routledge, Gallagher, Walsh (Kirkpatrick 83), Fleming (McCallum 90), Cawley (Taggart 72). Not used: Brown, Waters, Hopkins.
Referee: Stephen Finnie