Positives for Raith boss despite Tynecastle defeat

Craig Barr closes down Jamie Walker at Tynecastle on Saturday. Pic Greg Macvean
Craig Barr closes down Jamie Walker at Tynecastle on Saturday. Pic Greg Macvean
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Hearts 2 Raith Rovers 1

Raith Rovers manager Grant Murray was able to take positives from Tynecastle on Saturday despite watching his team slip to a fourth successive defeat.

Murray felt that his players were back on their game as they ran league champions Hearts close after delivering poor performances in each of their previous two matches against Cowdenbeath and Rangers.

Murray said: “We can always say we’re disappointed to lose a game of football, but as a manager I’ve got to take positives from every game if I can.

“Out there today the players gave everything - I’ve watched Hearts myself this season and when it goes 2-0 it can go four or five - there’s even a 10-0 in there.

“A lot of people were looking on today’s game and saying there was nothing at stake, but whenever players cross the white line it’s a game of football you want to win.

“And our lads were certainly at it today.”

Murray was also pleased to see striker Calum Elliot notch a rare goal on his return to the starting line-up after his consolation effort ended a long run of 16 months without a league goal.

“He missed a part of the season through injury but, credit to him, he’s got himself back fit,” Murray said.

“He’s had to wait for an opportunity and I thought he done well.

“He was a nuisance up front. He used the ball well, got into good areas and we scored a good goal.

“That’s a massive positive for us because a lot of teams come here and don’t even get a shot at goal.”

The match was played in warm sunny conditions, and that, along with the meaningless nature of the fixture, saw proceedings resemble a pre-season friendly encounter.

But, even with nothing left to play for, an under-performing Hearts side were still too strong for Rovers, who were unable to get a positive result despite looking more up for the game.

Raith defended well in the early stages but the Jambos took the lead on 33 minutes as Osman Sow laid the ball off to Sam Nicholson, who created space in the Raith box to slam a low finish past the diving Kevin Cuthbert.

Raith had a great chance to level on 40 minutes as Mark Stewart’s cross fell to Ryan Conroy at the back post but the winger took too many touches then scooped a poor effort over the bar.

Hearts doubled their advantage 10 minutes after the break as Kevin Moon lost possession to Calum Paterson, who pulled the ball back for Soufian El Hassnaoui to steer a shot past Cuthbert from 18 yards.

Raith pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Barrie McKay picked out Calum Elliot in the box, who side-stepped defender Alim Ozturk then fired past Scott Gallacher for his first league goal in 16 months.

Elliot, like most of his team mates, is out of contract in the summer but judging by his performance at Tynecastle, he is keen to show that, after an injury-plagued two years, he is worthy of a new deal.

Hearts were close to a third when Jamie Walker struck the post while Elliot almost earned a point for Raith with a powerful 30-yard effort that Gallacher pushed over the bar.

Hearts: Gallacher, Paterson, McHattie, Wilson, Ozturk, Gomis, Walker, El Hasnaoui, Nicholson (Keatings 69), Sow (Oliver 69), Anderson (McKirdy 57). Not used: Hamilton, McKay, Zeefuik, McGhee.

Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, McKeown, Watson, Barr, Moon (Fox 62), Callachan, McKay (Vaughan 86), Elliot, Stewart (Nade 81), Conroy. Not used: Hill, Anderson, Scott, McGurn.

Referee: Willie Collum

Attendance: 15,405